The Dutch frigate HNLMS Tromp, top, trains with the littoral combat ship USS Mobile and the dry cargo ship USNS Wally Schirra in the South China Sea, May 22, 2024.

The Dutch frigate HNLMS Tromp, top, trains with the littoral combat ship USS Mobile and the dry cargo ship USNS Wally Schirra in the South China Sea, May 22, 2024. (U.S. Navy)

A pair of U.S. Navy ships took advantage of a rare chance to train alongside a Dutch vessel this week in the South China Sea, according to U.S. 7th Fleet.

The littoral combat ship USS Mobile, the dry cargo ship USNS Wally Schirra and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Tromp focused on maneuvers, communications and “routine bilateral surface operations,” fleet spokeswoman Lt. Jamie Moroney told Stars and Stripes by email Thursday.

She declined to say exactly where the training took place, citing operational security concerns.

“The Netherlands is one of our oldest, continuous bilateral relationships, stemming from the 18th century,” Capt. Sean Lewis, commander of Destroyer Squadron 7, said Wednesday in a 7th Fleet news release. “I look forward to any opportunity to work together with partners and allies, especially at sea.”

While Dutch warships regularly work alongside the United States, their presence in the Indo-Pacific is less frequent. Moroney couldn’t immediately verify when a Dutch warship last operated with 7th Fleet.

In 2021, the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen joined the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth’s strike group in the Philippine Sea for drills alongside the carriers USS Ronald Reagan and USS Carl Vinson.

A Netherlands navy spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment Thursday.

“We’re fortunate to work together with allies and to have them provide replenishment to us. Operating together fortifies our existing relationship with our partners from the U.S.,” the Tromp’s skipper, Cmdr. Yvonne van Beusekom, said in 7th Fleet’s release. “We look to continue coordination between our nations to promote regional peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The Tromp embarked March 9 on a six-month mission dubbed Pacific Archer. The mission provides essential experience in operations, maintenance and logistics and demonstrates the Dutch navy’s ability to operate independently worldwide for an extended period, according to a March 7 report from the Curacao Chronicle.

Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot announced in October that a Dutch frigate would sail in the South China Sea this year, the Philippine News Agency reported Oct. 30.

Wednesday’s training occurred the day before China launched a series of exercises around Taiwan in response to the inauguration of the island’s new president, Lai Ching-te, on Monday.

The U.S.-Dutch drill was not in response to any specific event and was a “routine integration” between the U.S. and an ally, Moroney said.

The ships did not encounter other military forces, she added.

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Alex Wilson covers the U.S. Navy and other services from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., he holds a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. He previously covered crime and the military in Key West, Fla., and business in Jacksonville, Fla.

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