U.S., Philippine Coast Guards Conduct Joint Search and Rescue Exercise

The Bertholf (left) moves in formation with the PCG vessels Batangas (center) and Kalanggaman during the exercise. (Photos by U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer John Masson)

South China Sea, May 15, 2019 — The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) and vessels from the Philippine Coast Guard conducted joint search-and-rescue exercises on May 14.

The Bertholf, a 418-foot National Security Cutter based in Alameda, California, trained with the Philippine Coast Guard patrol vessels BRP Batangas and BRP Kalanggaman on small boat search-and-rescue tactics during a mock rescue scenario. The Bertholf is currently deployed to the Indo-Pacific and under the operational control of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

Training together strengthens the alliance between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines, one of the most enduring partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region.  The training supports both countries’ commitment to a free and open Pacific, governed by international maritime law to promote peace, security and prosperity of all nations.

“Bertholf completed an at-sea search and rescue exercise today with our counterparts from the Philippine Coast Guard,” said Capt. John J. Driscoll, Bertholf’s commanding officer.  “This engagement proved an excellent opportunity to compare techniques, maintain proficiency and build a friendly relationship amongst professional mariners and coast guards.  Our relationship is critically important as we work together to ensure the ocean remains free and open, with a respect for international law and rules of behavior at sea, and where mariners are safe to carry out their livelihood – whether they’re on a cargo ship or fishing vessel.”

The crew of Bertholf will participate in other joint events with members of the Philippine Coast Guard and Navy during the ship’s Manila port call, including a series of engagements on subjects such as damage control and search and rescue, as well as a variety of sporting and community relations events.  The activities are designed to improve interoperability and strengthen ties between the two countries.

“The U.S. Coast Guard is proud to operate with our Pacific counterparts, and together we are dedicated to enhancing our capabilities and strengthening maritime governance and security while promoting individual sovereignty,” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area.  “This type of engagement gives us a great opportunity to share our experiences and learn from our partners in the Philippine Coast Guard.”