THE commander of the US Navy's 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral John Bird, is set to arrive Wednesday for a three-day goodwill visit in the country.

Bird will arrive aboard the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) and will be met by the Philippine Navy's BRP-Leopoldo Regis (PG-847) upon its arrival in the vicinity of Corregidor Island around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

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Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, Philippine Navy public affairs director, said the PG-847 will escort LCC-19 up to Pier 13 in South Harbor, Manila where it will dock until its departure on Saturday.

Arevalo said the goodwill visit paves the way for strengthening ties for both countries and to reiterate the commitment in combating terrorism which requires a concerted effort among nations who aspire for peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region.

Arevalo said the goodwill visit also serve as a good venue to discuss with the US counterparts the possibilities for closer linkages such as mutual visits, exchange of subject matter experts and research analysts, and similar activities that would contribute to a mutually beneficial relationship between the Philippine and US armed forces in the area of defense and military research.

“This (goodwill visit) will give opportunity for both navies to learn from one another the best practices in technology and warfare,” Arevalo said.

Slated in the coming days is a shipboard tour and familiarization of students from the Fleet Training Center, Cavite City that will give opportunity for Philippine Navy students to optimize learning aboard state-of-the-art vessels as the navy embarks on its modernization, Arevalo said.

“This (goodwill visit) will acquaint the Philippine Navy with modern technology that would prepare and accustom them for an effective and efficient operation of navy vessels once the Philippine Navy achieves its desired modernized state,” he added.

He said the officers and personnel of both navies are also scheduled to participate in humanitarian projects in Manila with the construction of a day care center in Caloocan City and a visit at the Gawad Kalinga Village in Taguig City.

He said the two navies will also see action during sports activities at NS Jose Francisco, Taguig City.

The USS Blue Ridge is the lead ship of the two Blue Ridge-class command ships of the US Navy, and is the flag ship of the US 7th Fleet.

She is the third Navy ship named after the Blue Ridge Mountains, a range of mountains in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States. (Bong Garcia)