The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) opened the first-ever simultaneous conduct of Maritime Training Activity SAMA-SAMA (MTA SAMA-SAMA) and LUMBAS on Tuesday, October 11. The Chief of Staff of the AFP, Lieutenant General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro presided over the opening ceremony at the Naval Forces Central (NAVFORCEN) in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. Historically, the naval exercises were conducted separately but this year, the joint exercises were held simultaneously. MTA SAMA-SAMA is between the Philippines and the United States while LUMBAS is between the Philippines and Australia.
“This year’s joint exercise shall undoubtedly reinforce the long-standing alliance and friendship among our respective nations while opening broad avenues to complement our joint regional security efforts and advance our maritime capabilities,” Lieutenant General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro said.
Representatives from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, British Navy; Royal Brunei Navy, French Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Malaysian Navy were present as observers and will participate in disaster and humanitarian assistance activities.A total of 742 personnel will join the MTA SAMA-SAMA and LUMBAS 2022 to include the AFP’s Naval Reserve Force. This year’s naval exercise includes capability-enhancement events to address non-traditional concerns such as territorial defense, natural and man-made disasters, terrorism, and transnational crimes. It also aimed at developing warfighting interoperability of participating navies on maritime law enforcement operations, on-shore and at-sea sustainment, air operations, anti-submarine warfare, and humanitarian assistance.
Present in the opening ceremony were Rear Admiral Caesar Bernard Valencia, the Acting Flag Officer-in-Command, Philippine Navy; Commodore Florante Gaguia, Commander of NAVFORCEN; United States Navy Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, Commander of the Seventh Fleet; Australian Commodore Ray Leggatt, Chief of Staff of the Navy Headquarters; Japanese Vice Admiral Tamotsu Matsumoto, Commander of Fleet Air Force; and British Commodore Mike Proudman, Commanding Officer of the HMAS SPEY. The exercises will be conducted in Clark Airbase, Pampanga, and in the different locations in the Visayas Region.