US, UK, Japan to kick off submarine hunting drills in Western Pacific
A submarine-hunting exercise featuring warships from the United States, United Kingdom and Japan will begin on Thursday in support of open navigation in the Indo-Pacific region, the US Navy announced in a press release, Trend reports citing Sputnik.
"Focused on anti-submarine warfare, a US Navy P-8A maritime patrol aircraft from the "War Eagles" of Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 will participate in the drills", the release said Tuesday.
The United Kingdom will provide two frigates, and Japan will send a destroyer, maritime patrol aircraft and a submarine to join the US 7th Fleet for the second exercise of its type, the release said. The initial trilateral anti-submarine drill was held in December 2018, according to the release.
"The Royal Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defence Force, and United States Navy all support a free and open Indo-Pacific”, said Capt. Brian Erickson, commander, Task Force Seven Two (CTF 72). “Exercises like this demonstrate our nation's resolve in the region, while improving interoperability, maintaining readiness, and learning best practices from one another”, the release said.
US Indo-Pacific Command chief Adm. Philip Davidson said in a congressional testimony in February, that Chinese militarization of the South China Sea has prompted the United States to begin discussing the possibility of relocating US forces and opening bases in the region.
According to Davidson, Chinese President Xi Jinping had not kept a 2015 promise, made in a White House ceremony with former President Barack Obama, not to militarize the South China Sea, adding that Beijing has since populated a series of islands, some artificially created, in the South China Sea with anti-ship cruise missiles, surface to air missiles and electronic jammers.
According to media reports, the United States frequently sends warships, sometimes with partner nations, through the waterway in what Washington calls freedom of navigation exercises.