The United States will transfer two ships, US Coast Guard cutter ship and another research vessel, to the Philippine navy to help it navigate and patrol its territorial waters.
The two ships were part of a broader American plan to scale up assistance to naval forces in Southeast Asia, Philippines media reported Tuesday.
The announcement was made during US President Barack Obama's visit to a Philippine Navy vessel, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar in Manila.
"More capable navies, in partnership with the United States, are critical to the security of this region," Obama added.
The president also said he would seek for Congress to approve another $140 million in maritime security aid to Southeast Asia next year.
While China claims more than 80% of the South China Sea, there are overlapping claims from Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The territorial dispute has caused a row between Beijing and Washington, which has refused to recognize Chinese sovereignty claims in the region.
Roughly $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea annually, and China views control of the waters as a key to its rise in economic and military power.