(U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class LA Walker)

Coast Guard Cutter Joins Multinational Drills Near Contested South China Sea Islands

The Coast Guard is taking part in annual training near contentious South China Sea islands involving the U.S. and Philippine navies and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The exercise — Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama — is underway this week on and around Palawan, the Philippine island closest to the Spratly Islands, southwest of Manila, a Navy statement said.

China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia dispute the ownership of the approximately 100 islands and reefs in the Spratly chain. Military forces from these countries occupy about 45 of the islands, according to the CIA World Factbook.

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