The Indian naval ships that were part of the exercise are currently deployed in the Western Pacific

Continuing with their robust defence and security partnership built over several years, India and Philippines on Monday carried out a maritime partnership exercise in the eastern parts of the South China Sea, which has been rechristened as West Philippine Sea by Manila.

Two ships of the Indian Navy, namely INS Ranvijay (Guided Missile Destroyer, D55) and INS Kora (Guided Missile Corvette, P61), carried out a Maritime Partnership Exercise with BRP Antonio Luna (Frigate, FF 151) of the Philippine Navy, said India's Ministry of Defence.

The joint evolutions conducted during the exercise included several operational manoeuvers and the participating ships of both navies were satisfied with the consolidation of interoperability achieved through this operational interaction at sea, the defence ministry's statement noted.

These Indian naval ships are currently deployed in the Western Pacific with an aim to strengthen maritime security collaboration with partner nations.

The interaction with BRP Antonio Luna was enriching opportunity for the Indian Navy to consolidate its bilateral relations with the Philippine Navy, said the statement.

In compliance with the prevailing pandemic guidelines, the exercise was conducted in contactless manner and all necessary health and safety protocols were strictly observed.

After the exercise, the Indian naval ships are scheduled to call at Manila Port for replenishment.

Both navies remain committed to further strengthening bilateral collaboration in the maritime domain towards a collective aim of ensuring a stable, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific, the defence ministry said.

The maritime exercise between India and Philippines come at a time when China has allegedly fired flares to ward off Philippine intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) patrols in the West Philippine Sea on at least five occasions.

According to the Philippines military’s Western Command, China's assertiveness extended to the use of pyrotechnic signals or flares fired from buildings in occupied West Philippine Sea reefs.