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Australia, Japan, Philippine, US navy vessels carry out inaugural South China Sea exercise

A Philippine Navy Jose Rizal-class frigate (topmost), seen here carrying out the first MMCA exercise in the South China Sea on 7 April with (from the front) the US Navy's USS Mobile , the JMSDF's JS Akebono , and the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Warramunga . (Australian Department of Defence)

Naval vessels from four countries have completed an inaugural South China Sea exercise known as the Multilateral Maritime Cooperative Activity (MMCA).

The exercise was carried out on 7 April within Manila's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) disclosed in its official statement on the same day.

Taking part in the exercise were the Philippine Navy's lead Del Pilar-class ship and second Jose Rizal-class frigate BRP Antonio Luna . The former was embarked with an AW109 helicopter while the latter was carrying an AW159 anti-submarine warfare-equipped helicopter.

Also involved were the US Navy's Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Mobile , the Royal Australian Navy's Anzac-class frigate HMAS Warramung a, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's Murasame-class destroyer JS Akebono .

In addition, US Indo-Pacific Command and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) also each deployed a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to the exercise, the AFP revealed.

β€œThe MMCA demonstrated the participating countries' commitment to strengthen regional and international co-operation in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific through interoperability exercises in the maritime domain,” read the AFP statement.

β€œThe participants performed communication exercises, division tactics or officer of the watch manoeuvres, and a photo exercise. These activities were designed to enhance the different forces' abilities to work together effectively in maritime scenarios,” the service added.

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