US warship calls at Subic bay as joint military exercises confirmed

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The USS Fitzgerald. Photo courtesy of the Embassy in Manila

A Navy destroyer has made a port call in Subic Bay as it’s announced that annual US-Philippine war games will go ahead.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, arrived on Saturday, April 1, for minor repairs.

A statement from the Embassy in Manila said the call “highlights the strong community and military connections between the Philippines and the United States.

“The ship’s crew will use the stop to conduct some minor repairs with the assistance of Philippine companies.”

The destroyer arrived at the former naval base as the Philippine and US militaries prepared for the first Balikatan war games under President Duterte, a frequent critic of America who has vowed to pivot his country’s foreign policy more towards China and Russia.

The Balikatan is the biggest of dozens of joint activities between the two allies, who are bound by a Mutual Defence Treaty.

War games under the Aquino administration included joint exercises in the disputed South China Sea. It is believed that this year’s exercises, in April or May, will be firmly land based.

On several occasions the president has threatened to scrap the annual military exercises, however, the army establishment remains strongly pro-American.

Despite verbal attacks against President Obama, the in general and its citizens, the president has said that the Philippines will maintain strong ties with the superpower.