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UPDATED: 18:44, May 31, 2007
Philippines, U.S. start annual naval exercise in Mindanao
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The Philippine and the U.S. navies formally opened on Thursday a yearly joint exercise in the southern island of Mindanao.

Dubbed the 2007 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training ( CARAT), the bilateral naval exercise started with an opening ceremony at the Headquarters of Philippine Naval Forces Western Mindanao Officers Club.

The opening ceremony was presided by Rear Admiral Petronilo Magno, the Commander of the Philippine Fleet with Rear Admiral William Burke, Commander, Task Force 73 as the senior U.S. Navy officer in attendance.

"CARAT is a model of interconnectivity between navies that maintains sovereign rights, while taking advantage of the benefits of cooperating naval forces," Burke said at the ceremony.

CARAT is designed to enhance interoperability and to exchange knowledge and skills needed for engaging threat of terrorism and transnational crimes at sea, the Philippine Navy told reporters in a press statement.

The Philippine Navy has organized three patrol ships, three maritime patrol aircrafts, one helicopter, and components of the 1st Marine Brigade for the field training exercise.

The U.S. Navy on the other hand, will be committing three ships, the USS Harper's Ferry, USS Ford and USS Jarrett in the joint exercise.

The Philippine Navy also provided composite members of the Navy Construction Brigade and medical teams for joint activities along with their US Navy counterparts.

The nine-day exercise involves at least 2,000 American and Filipino troops. Their training areas will be in the southern province of Basilan and Zamboanga City in Mindanao.

Source: Xinhua

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