US, Philippine Coast Guards conduct joint search and rescue exercise

May 14, 2019 – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750) and vessels from the Philippine coast guard conducted joint search-and-rescue exercises Tuesday in the South China Sea west of Manila.

The Bertholf, a 418-foot National Security Cutter based in Alameda, California, worked together with the Philippine coast guard vessels Batangas and Kalanggaman on small boat search-and-rescue tactics to effect the mock rescue of a person in the water. The Bertholf is in the midst of a Western Pacific deployment under the tactical control of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

Captain john J. Driscoll, left, enjoys breakfast aboard the Philippine Coast Guard vessel Batangas along with Batangas commanding officer, right foreground, and other officers prior to a search and rescue exercise west of Manila May 14, 2019. Bertholf is conducting a Western Pacific patrol under the tactical control of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer John Masson.

In training with and learning alongside partners in the Philippines on such topics as search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, and small boat tactics, Bertholf’s crew enjoys the benefits of the strong, often personal ties between the countries. The work also strengthens one of the most enduring partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines, and supports both countries’ commitment to a free and open Pacific, governed by international maritime law that promotes 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. This engagement proved an excellent opportunity to compare techniques, maintain proficiency and build a friendly relationship amongst professional mariners and coast guards,” said Capt. John J. Driscoll, Bertholf’s commanding officer. “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 also participate in other joint events with members of the Philippine coast guard during the ship’s Manila port call. The events include a series of engagements on operational subjects such as damage control and search and rescue, as well as a variety of sporting and social events. The activities are designed to improve interoperability and strengthen the 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 U.S. Coast Guard’s Pacific Area. “Today’s exercise is a great opportunity to share our experiences and learn from our partners in the Philippine coast guard.”