US warship in PHL for 4-day goodwill visit

August 19, 2012 8:49 am 

By Michaela del Callar

MANILA, Aug. 18 -– A United States guided missile destroyer ship is in the country for a four-day goodwill visit, the US Embassy in Manila said Saturday.

The USS Milius (DDG 69), an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided missile destroyer, is docked at the Manila South Harbor in a visit “that highlights the strong historic, community, and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines,” the embassy said in a statement.

USS Milius, according to the US Pacific Fleet website, provides multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities in support of America’s maritime security strategy.

Milius, it said, can operate independently or as part of aircraft carrier strike groups, surface action groups, expeditionary strike groups, and underway replenishment.

It was named in honor of Navy pilot Captain Paul L. Milius who died while on duty on Feb 27, 1968.

Capt. Milius, then commander, was piloting an OP-2E observation aircraft on an armed reconnaissance mission over Laos when the plane was hit by anti-aircraft artillery fire.

Milius ordered his seven crew members to bail out, choosing to remain at the controls of the badly damaged aircraft. All his crew were rescued.

Just before the aircraft crashed, Milius was believed to have bailed out, but rescuers were unable to locate him. He was declared Missing In Action.

On April 26, 1978, his status was revised to Presumed Killed In Action and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, highest honor bestowed by the US Navy and the second highest medal given for valor.

Recently, the US military has intensified the deployment of its modern fleets of aircraft, ship and submarines to Australia, Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and other Asian countries as part of its ongoing efforts to reassert its presence and clout as an Asia Pacific power after years of preoccupation in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Aside from visits from US forces and other Western allies, Australian troops are expected to increase joint military and humanitarian exercises in the Philippines after the Senate ratified the Status of Forces Agreement between Manila and Canberra last July 24.

Manila has a similar agreement with the United States, called the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA which was ratified in 1999.

Last June, a nuclear-powered US submarine, the USS Louisville (SSN 724) was at the former American naval base in Subic Bay, Zambales – once one of the largest US military installations in the world outside of the American mainland.

Aside from the VFA, the Philippines and the US have a 61-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty or MDT.

Washington has repeatedly pledged to comply with commitments under the MDT that binds the US to help defend the Philippines if it comes under attack from any external force. (PNA)

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