The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - As the US becomes more vocal about the South China Sea conflict to protect its interest for free navigation in the area, yet another of its Navy vessels is set to dock in Manila for what officials term simple replenishment - meaning, there will be no interaction between the Philippine and US navies.
The Philippine Navy on Friday said they were expecting the arrival of the guided missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), due to dock at the South Harbor in Manila on Saturday for a 4-day replenishment activity.
This is the first time this year that a US destroyer of the MIlius' class is visiting the country. It comes amid heightening tension in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), where China is pressing its claims over the Spratly Islands in the South China and the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, off Masinloc, Zambales. China claims most of the West Philippine Sea, ignoring rival claims, for other parts of the area, by Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, and non-active claimants Malaysia and Brunei.
"Yes, the warship will be here (on Saturday) and it will stay at the port from August 18-21. I want to clarify that this is not an official visit and so our Navy will not interact with them. They will be here for replenishment," Navy spokesman Col. Omar Tonsay said Friday.
The US Embassy in Manila said "the ship's visit highlights the strong historic, community and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines."
The warship was commissioned on November 1996 under Commander Daine E. Eisold. Its present skipper is Commander Nicholie Bufkin.
"USS Milius is an ARLEIGH BURKE-class Aegis guided missile destroyer that provides multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities in support of the Nation’s maritime security strategy. Milius can operate independently or as part of aircraft carrier strike groups, surface action groups, expeditionary strike groups, and underway replenishment," according to a Facebook page on the warship.
The warship was named in honor of Navy pilot Captain Paul L. Milius (1928-1968), who died in 1968 when his OP-2E observation plane was hit by anti-aircraft artillery in a mission over Laos.
Earlier this year, two US nuclear-powered submarines visited Subic, Zambales, which used to be the site of the largest US naval base outside the mainland. The Philippine Senate voted in 1991 not to renew the Military Bases Treaty covering Subic and Clark Air Base, along with several other minor facilities.
In recent weeks, however, the US has signaled a "pivot" of its naval forces, revealing plans to move more of them to the Pacific side, a matter publicly protested by China which accused the US of meddling in the maritime row and upping the risk of confrontation.
US officials have said Washington has a stake in ensuring free navigation in the area.