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U.S. sailors from the USS Tortuga participate in a search and seizure operation with their Filipino counterparts during training in the South China Sea on Thursday as part of the annual Balikatan exercise.

U.S. sailors from the USS Tortuga participate in a search and seizure operation with their Filipino counterparts during training in the South China Sea on Thursday as part of the annual Balikatan exercise. (Courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

MANILA — U.S. and Philippine sailors conducted search-and-seizure operations late last week, according to a military news release.

Sailors from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga participated in the training Thursday with their Filipino counterparts in the South China Sea as part of the annual Balikatan training exercise.

The training is made up of four phases: detection and surveillance; querying, approaching and stopping the suspect ship; boarding and searching the ship; and the disembarkation and recovery stage.

The Philippine navy’s BRP Dagupan City played the role of the "non-compliant" merchant ship, according to the release, and the BRP Atermio Ricarte and BRP Humabon teamed with the Tortuga for the first two phases of training.

A visit, board, search and seizure team from the Tortuga boarded the Dagupan using a rigid hull inflatable boat early Thursday morning, according to the release.

The exercise afforded the opportunity to share techniques and tactics — a major goal of Balikatan, the release said.

The Tortuga belongs to Amphibious Squadron 11 along with the USS Essex, USS Juneau and USS Harpers Ferry, according the USS Essex Web site. PHIBRON 11 is forward deployed to Sasebo Naval Base, Japan.

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