US Navy strike group departs Philippines after completing PHIBLEX

U.S. Navy’s Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG), with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, departed the Philippines after they completed the Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 33, October 12.

This is possibly the last such exercise between the U.S. and the Philippines armed forces after the Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte said that PHIBLEX would be the last military cooperation during his tenure.

The Filipino president also halted joint South China Sea patrols with the U.S., all in a sign of shifting diplomatic relations to China and Russia.

As for the exercise, U.S. Marines trained with their Philippine marine corps counterparts from ships of the BHR ESG. They conducted amphibious landings, live-fire exercises and airborne insertions across Luzon, the country’s largest island.

This year’s exercise saw 1,386 U.S. personnel from five military services learning how to work better together through a series of training events.

Sailors of the BHR ESG and Philippine Navy also exchanged expertise on beach master operations, anti-submarine warfare, beach survey operations, command and control, shipboard operations, and strengthening the two navies’ ability to operate together.

ESG units include flagship amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay, amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.