USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Patriot (MCM 7) sail together through the South China Sea, May 8. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Corbin J. Shea)

PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines - Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Patriot (MCM 7) arrived in Puerto Princesa, Philippines, for a port visit for resupply and routine maintenance purposes, May 9.

Pioneer and Patriot Sailors have had the opportunity to learn about the Filipino culture and engage with the Puerto Princesa community. For many Filipino-American Sailors, visiting the Philippines is a chance to reconnect with their heritage.

“This isn’t just a chance for us to have fun and relax. We have Sailors on board who have family in the Philippines and some were even born here,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Wayland, commanding officer of Pioneer. “So we are personally invested in this country, and it is more than just a pit stop. For some Sailors, it’s a visit home.”

Master Chief Petty Officer Andrew Tyler, command master chief of Pioneer and a Philippine native, said he was excited to be back in the Philippines again and get a chance to see the beautiful island Palawan.

“It is always a great opportunity to be able to go back to the Philippines. There are many regions of the country that are absolutely stunning, and Palawan is one of them,” said Tyler.

Both Pioneer and Patriot are part of Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 and are forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan. They are operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of regional peace and stability.

USS Pioneer (MCM 9) and USS Patriot (MCM 7) approach the pier in Puerto Princesa, May 9. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Corbin J. Shea)