Lorenzana wants to deploy new PH Navy ship to Sulu, Palawan seas

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019   •   263

MANILA, Philippines – If Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had his way, the country’s newly-acquired vessel BRP Conrado Yap will be deployed to Palawan and Sulu seas.

Lorenzana said this on Tuesday on the sidelines of the welcome ceremony for the BRP Conrado Yap, a Pohang-class corvette donated by South Korea, at the Manila South Harbor.

“Kung ako, baka siguro sa Palawan and the Sulu seas,” he said. “It depends on the Navy how soon they can bring that to the south,” he added.

The BRP Conrado Yap arrived in the Philippines several weeks after it was handed over by South Korea during a ceremony at Jinhae Naval Base on August 5. The corvette was used by South Korea from 1987 to 2016 as Republic of Korea Navy ship Chungju (PCC-762).

READ: PH welcomes newly-acquired warship BRP Conrado Yap

The 32-year old warship is regarded as the Philippine Navy’s “most powerful ship” to date because of its torpedo launchers and sonars that are capable of detecting submarine and other potential underwater threats.

The Philippine Navy believes the addition of the heavily armed vessel will provide significant boost to its capability in patrolling and safeguarding the country’s territorial limits.

It will also serve as transition platform in empowering and upgrading Filipino sailors’ knowledge and skills in handling such high-level and advanced equipment/vessel especially with the impending delivery of modern frigates in the next two years, the Philippine Navy added.

The acquisition of the vessel follows the concern raised by the Philippine Military on the series of uncoordinated passage of Chinese warships within the country’s waters, including the Tawi-Tawi’s Sibutu Strait near the Sulu Sea and Palawan.

A diplomatic protest has been filed by Manila on the incursion of Beijing’s vessels.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte also issued a directive requiring all foreign vessels to secure a clearance when passing the Philippine waters. (RRD with details from correspondent Joan Nano)

South Korea’s destroyer, fast combat support ships now in PHL

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Two ships of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) are currently in Manila’s South Harbor for a three-day goodwill visit.

The Philippine Navy welcomed the arrival of the South Korean ships, Munmu the Great (DDH-976) and Hwacheon (AOE-59), classified as destroyer and fast combat support ship, respectively.

The two vessels are part of South Korea’s Cruise Training Task Group comprised of more than 600 navy personnel and around 100 cadets led by its commander, Read Admiral Yang Min Soo.

“The presence of these two Korea Navy vessels and its contingent underscores the continuing efforts of the Philippines and Korea to strengthen the relationship between our governments and navies,” Littoral Combat Force of the Philippine Fleet (PF), Commodore Rey Dela Cruz said during a welcome ceremony held aboard one of the Korean ships.

Yang, for his part, thanked the Philippine Navy for welcoming the Cruise Training Task Group adding that the visit coincided with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Republic of Korea.

He also recognized the Philippine Navy as the “first to dispatch ground forces to support Republic of Korea during the Korean War.”

“ROKN will forever remember the noble sacrifice of PH forces… [the goodwill visit will be the] time to commemorate the war veterans and enhance exchange cooperation with the Philippine Navy,” he said.

During the three-day visit, Yang and his men will have several engagements including confidence building activities with their Filipino counterparts which entail shipboard tour, reciprocal receptions, sports events and joint performances in Luneta Park, Manila.

Yang and his men will also pay courtesy call to Flag Officer in Command, PN, Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad and PF Commander, Rear Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo.

A send-off ceremony with customary Passing Exercise (PASSEX) will cap off said visit, the Philippine Navy said.

The visit is expected to further strengthen the already strong ties between the Philippines and South Korea.

The two nations’ ties dates back to 1949 when the Philippines became the fifth country to recognize the Republic of Korea, and during the Korean War in 1950s when the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea was deployed for the defense of ROK.

PH Navy deploys BRP Ramon Alcaraz for 1st US-Asean naval drills

Robie de Guzman   •   August 30, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Navy (PN) has deployed its Del Pilar-class patrol ship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS16) for the inaugural of Asean-United States Maritime Exercises (AUMX), which will be held on Sept. 2 to 6 at Sattahip, Thailand.

The send-off ceremony for the 200 sailors and marines participating in the drill was held on Thursday at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor.

Representing the PN Flag Officer-in-command was the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Adm. Loumer Bernabe.

“As this demonstrates our capability as well as our commitment to make Southeast Asia secured and progressive and progressive and an opportunity to strengthen close ties with counterparts in our shared efforts to maintain peace and security in the Asean region,” Bernabe said in a statement.

He also reminded departing marines and sailors comprising the Naval Task Group 80.5 “to embody the excellence and high standard of professionalism at all times” and enjoined them “to be at your best while on your mission and take this opportunity as well to learn as much as you can”.

The Philippine Navy said the AUMX 2019 is the first-ever maritime drill between the navies of the ASEAN member states and the United States. It is co-hosted by the Royal Thai Navy and the US Navy.

Operating under the theme “Enhancing Shared Awareness and Interoperability in the Maritime Domain”, this maritime exercise aims to promote maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeded commerce in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law.

Exercise proper will be executed off the eastern waters of Thailand, where sea and air assets, and special operations teams of participating navies will conduct combined maneuvers to address various contingencies at sea.

This naval exercise is a platform on how the PN and other navies in the region can cooperate and work altogether to address shared maritime security priorities through the development of combined operational doctrines, practices and naval tactics.

The PN’s participation in this undertaking is expected to advance its maritime operational capability to multilateral level thereby increasing readiness and interoperability and enabling the nation’s premier maritime force to assert more efficiency in the conduct of its mandated task.

PH Navy finalizing protocol on unauthorized transiting of foreign ships

Marje Pelayo   •   August 29, 2019

Philippine Navy personnel stand in formation alongside BRP Ramon Alcaraz during send-off ceremony in Manila, 29 August 2019. The provisional unit will participate and represent the Philippines in the first-ever ASEAN-US Maritime Exercise in Thailand.

MANILA Philippines – The Philippine Navy (PN) is now finalizing its rules of engagement covering foreign ships that traverse through the Philippine waters.

The said protocol particularly applies to foreign vessels that refuse to respond to notifications by the military and those who refuse to reveal their identifications.

Such rules of engagement were prompted by an order from President Rodrigo Duterte to the Department of National Defense (DND) to deal with friendly or unfriendly manner should foreign ships refuse to secure permission to navigate from the Philippine government.

“Ang concept namin is kapag nakita namin sa monitoring station. If we have ships available, we shadow sabihan natin sa kanila na andito ka sa territorial waters (Our concept is upon notification of their presence in our monitoring station and we have ships available, we shadow. We would notify them that they already entered our territorial waters),” explained Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, the Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy.

Empedrad said they will continue to challenge any vessel who intrudes the country’s territory particularly those that slow down or if they turn off the vessel’s automatic identification system.

The official said that once they have proven that a ship’s transiting is not a case of ‘innocent passage’, they will immediately report the incident which the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) may use as a ground for filing a diplomatic protest.

However, Empedrad worries that the military’s capability would not be enough to secure the Philippines’ territorial waters.

“Ang laki kasi ng waters natin (Our territorial sea is very broad) and we need to modernize the Philippine Navy,” he noted.

“Kulang (ang) barko natin kaya in-enhance natin ‘yong monitoring station natin so we can see ‘yong mga pumapasok (We lack military warships and we need to enhance our monitoring station so we can see who really are intruding),” he added.

A number of unauthorized transiting were reported this year, the latest was the passing of Chinese vessels in Sibuti Strait in Tawi-Tawi when the foreign crewmen refused to identify themselves and even turned off their automatic identification system when challenged by Philippine Navy ships. – MNP (with reports from April Cenedoza)

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