MANILA (Nov. 16, 2011) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is greeted by Cmdr. Brian Mutty, commanding officer of the the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) upon her arrival aboard the ship in Manila Bay to sign the Manila Declaration, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. (U.S. Navy photo)

MANILA - The guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) hosted the signing of the Manila Declaration Nov. 16 in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ambassador Harry Thomas, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario and Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin signed the joint declaration onboard Fitzgerald while docked in Manila Bay. The signing was witnessed by a U.S. delegation of senior State and Defense Department Officials along with numerous Philippine elected officials, military leadership and community leaders.

The declaration states "The Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America today commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. On this historic occasion, we reflect on the rich history of our alliance and the continuing relevance of the treaty for peace, security, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. We also reaffirm the treaty as the foundation of our relationship for the next 60 years and beyond."

Fitzgerald was specially selected for this momentous occasion due to her recent experience working with the Philippine Navy. Over the past summer, Fitzgerald transited with BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the flagship of the Philippine Navy, on her maiden voyage across the Pacific. The two ships cross-decked personnel and held training sessions for 16 days on joint maritime operations. By the end of the transit, the officers and crews of both ships achieved new levels of proficiency and partnership.

After the signing of the declaration, Secretary Clinton addressed the attendees and crew, praising the long standing alliance between the two countries and suggested that the bond between the two nations will only continue to increase in importance as Asia continues its rapid growth.

Thanking the ship for hosting the event and their efforts to strengthen the US-Philippine alliance, Secretary Clinton stated "it is great to be aboard a fine ship like the Fitzgerald. I would like to say thank you on behalf of all Americans. The greatest honor of my life has been to work with those who defend our freedom."

Fitzgerald is one of seven destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron fifteen, forward-deployed to Yokosuka Japan and has patrolled the entire western Pacific region this year, sailing to Australia, the Marshall Islands, Guam, Russia, and then Saipan before arriving in Manila.