The Philippines and the United States began a two-day joint patrol in the South China Sea on Wednesday, amid continuing tensions with China in the disputed waters.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said their second joint patrol this week involved four vessels from the Philippine navy and four US navy vessels that include an aircraft carrier, a cruiser and two destroyers.

Last year the Philippine armed forces increased the maritime surveillance as territorial disputes in the South China Sea continue to strain relations between Manila and Beijing.

The navy vessels of Philippines and the United States conducted a joint sail in parts of the South China Sea with the aim of enhancing maritime cooperation.

According to AFP, the navy vessels of Philippines and the United States will commence the second iteration of the maritime cooperative activity in the West Philippine Sea from January 3 to 4, 2024.

“The two-day bilateral event will conduct passing exercises, communication checks, cross-deck exercises, joint patrols, Officer of the Watch (OW) maneuvers, and fixed-wing flight operations,” the Armed Forces of Philippines said in a statement.

The Philippines deployed four navy vessels, a multi-role helicopter and an anti-submarine warfare capable helicopter, while the US dispatched an aircraft carrier, a cruiser, two destroyers, and multiple combat aircraft.

AFP chief of staff General Romeo Brawner, Jr. said, “The 2nd maritime cooperative activity marks a significant leap in our alliance and interoperability with the United States. It also demonstrates our progress in defense capabilities and development as a world-class armed force, as we carry out our mandate to protect the people and the state.”

“Our alliance is stronger than ever, sending a message to the world. We are advancing a rules-based international order and a free and open Indo-Pacific region in the face of regional challenges,” he added.