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USS Shiloh joining British, S. Korean ships in 2-day exercise

SEOUL — The USS Shiloh will take part in a two-day naval exercise that begins Sunday with British and South Korean ships south of the Korean peninsula, according to U.S. Forces Korea.

The trilateral exercise is aimed at improving teamwork and interoperability in security cooperation and humanitarian relief operations. It comes on the heels of Operation Damayan, which saw 13,400 U.S. troops help out in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.

American troops ran airfields, purified water, distributed aid and evacuated more than 21,000 people after one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall battered the country’s midsection Nov. 8, killing thousands and leaving many homeless. Sixty-six aircraft and 12 naval vessels participated in the effort.

The exercise also comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region following China’s declaration last month of an air defense zone over islands claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo. The U.S. and Japan have refused to recognize China’s claims to the zone and have conducted their own military flights in the disputed area in response.

The Shiloh, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser with the 7th Fleet, has a crew of approximately 400 sailors and is forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. Also participating in the exercise are South Korea’s Yulgok Yi I, a guided missile destroyer, and the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Daring.

A spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said the exercise is timed to the United Kingdom destroyer’s visit to the region, and has nothing to do with the tensions surrounding China’s newly-claimed air defense zone.

rowland.ashley@stripes.com

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