As a signal to an end of joint military exercises between the Philippines and the United States, USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship and flagship of the United States Navy Expeditionary Strike Group Seven leave Subic Bay on Wednesday ahead of two other warships and six supply ships.
Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD-42) and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD-20), dry class cargo ship USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE-9) and fleet replenishment oiler USNS Walter Diehl (T-AO-193) also sailed out of the freeport one after another in the afternoon after the joint marine landing maneuvers Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise (Philblex 33) was cut short ending on Monday instead of the supposed scheduled run until October 12.
According to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), The departure of four other supply ships, USNS Fall River (T-EPF-4), USNS Millinocket (T-EPF-3), USNS
Victorious (T-AGOS-19) and the pathfinder class oceanographic survey ship USNS Bowditch, will be announced later.
The joint military exercises involved 500 Filipino soldiers and 1,400 American troops.
It is not clear if the shortened joint landing exercises was the result of President Duterte’s statement that he will no longer allow future joint military exercises between Filipino and American troops.
Duterte had lately expressed his desire to develop an independent foreign policy and announced he wants US troops to be out in Mindanao.
Duterte was also quoted that he no longer wants the country to participate in joint patrols in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
Meanwhile, Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino, a known advocate of US presence in Subic Bay for its economic benefits to city residents said that he will follow and respect the President’s decision. New SBMA Chairman Martin Diño had no statement yet in relation to the pullout schedule.