The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines, August 31 Tuesday following operations and exercises in the West Philippine Sea with the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Munro’s crew participated in bilateral operations, professional exchanges, search-and-rescue and communications exercises, small boat operations, multi-vessel maneuvering, and maritime domain awareness drills while at sea.
“As the maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region become increasingly complex, partnering with our Philippine Coast Guard and fisheries counterparts is vital to our shared interest in a free and open maritime environment,” said Munro’s Commanding Officer Capt. Blake Novak.
“We thoroughly enjoyed our Philippine hosts’ professionalism and hospitality, and we look forward to future bilateral operations to further our longstanding relationship.”
The search-and-rescue exercise simulated the agencies’ bilateral response to a vessel in distress. During the exercise, the Munro, PCG, and BFAR practiced searching for the distressed vessel, shipboard firefighting techniques, and recovering and treating persons in the water.
As part of the exercise, members of the PCG joined USCG members aboard Munro as they launched the cutter’s Small Unmanned Aircraft System to aid in the search-and-rescue response. The day’s exercises and operations provided opportunities for each involved agency to learn from each other.
“The success of the joint maritime exercise between the PCG and USCG will not only strengthen international partnerships for immediate response to calamities and disasters but will also ensure that our personnel could effectively perform their mandated functions in countering terrorism and other acts of lawlessness in our country’s waters,” said Admiral George V. Ursabia JR., PCG commandant.
The USCG has a long history of cooperation with the PCG. In 2019, the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf conducted engagements with the PCG as part of its Western Pacific deployment, focusing on search and rescue, maritime security, and law enforcement capabilities.
Munro, a 418-foot national security cutter, departed its homeport of Alameda, California, in July for a months-long deployment to the Western Pacific. Operating under the tactical control of U.S. 7th Fleet, the cutter and crew are engaging in professional exchanges and capacity-building exercises with partner nations and are patrolling and conducting operations as directed.
National security cutters like Munro feature advanced command and control capabilities, aviation support facilities, stern cutter boat launch, and increased endurance for long-range patrols, enabling the crews to disrupt threats to national security further offshore.
“The Coast Guard shares deep and abiding interests with our allies and partners, who, like us, have long endorsed a rules-based international order,” said Vice Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area.
“Partnering with the Philippines to enhance maritime governance, including important missions such as search and rescue and enforcement of fisheries laws and treaties, is essential to the security, stability and prosperity of all nations.”
As both a federal law enforcement agency and an armed force, the USCG is uniquely positioned to conduct defense operations in support of combatant commanders on all seven continents. The service routinely provides forces in joint military operations worldwide, including the deployment of cutters, boats, aircraft, and deployable specialized forces.
Image credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Kevin G. Rivas. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Ethan Dorais, a boatswains mate aboard Coast Guard Cutter Munro, searches for a simulated man overboard with members of the Philippine Coast Guard during a search-and-rescue exercise Aug. 31, 2021, in the West Philippine Sea. The search-and-rescue exercise simulated both agencies’ bilateral response to a vessel in distress.