The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have concluded Exercise Balikatan 2023 (BK23).

A closing ceremony was held in Camp Aguinaldo, Philippines.

Balikatan exercise aims to address challenges related to the Mutual Defense Treaty, counter-terrorism threats, humanitarian support, and disaster response, while strengthening the partnership between the US and the Philippines.

The ARG, composed of USS Makin Island, USS Anchorage, and USS John P. Murtha, participated in various exercises including Combined Joint Logistics Over the Shore.

The Anchorage’s sailors and 1st Reconnaissance, 13th MEU Marines also conducted a Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) exercise on BRP Jose Rizal to demonstrate the strength and readiness of the US Philippine security alliance.

In addition, the Makin Island ARG participated in a group sail alongside Philippine navy ships BRP Jose Rizal, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, and BRP Tarlac in the South China Sea, enhancing communication, techniques, and procedures as well as interoperability.

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The Makin Island ARG and AFP also conducted a sink exercise, successfully capsizing a floating target.

John P Murtha commanding officer captain Doug Langenberg said: “BK23 interactions enabled the opportunity to increase our ability to work shoulder-to-shoulder through bilateral training, supporting local populations, and improving collective capabilities and interoperability.

“Together we are devoted to regional peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.”

As part of the final phase of Balikatan 23, Makin Island carried out an amphibious raid at Brooke’s Point where US Marines were unloaded to conduct live fire exercises and perform long-range coastal defence training.