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

Robie de Guzman   •   August 30, 2019   •   702

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 gets new vice commander, chief of staff after Cusi departure

Robie de Guzman   •   October 7, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Navy has installed a new vice commander and chief of staff following the departure of Rear Admiral Allan Ferdinand Cusi to assume his new post as superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

Major General Dante Hidalgo is the new Navy vice commander (VCom) replacing Cusi who was transferred to the top PMA post following the resignation of Lt. Gen. Ronnie Evangelista over the hazing death of Cadet 4th Class Darwin Dormitorio.

Cusi held the VCOM post in acting capacity for a month while serving as the commander of Naval Education, Training and Doctrine Command (NETDC).

Hidalgo and Cusi are both members of the PMA Sinagtala Class of 1986.

Flag Officer in Command, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, presided over the joint turn-over ceremony at the Philippine Navy Headquarters in Manila on Friday.

Hidalgo was the former commander of the Naval Reserve Command.

Meanwhile, Littoral Combat Force commander, Commodore Rey Dela Cruz will now be the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), replacing Rear Admiral Loumer Bernabe who is designated as the new commander of NETDC.

Bernabe and Dela Cruz are mistahs from PMA Hinirang Class of 1987.

The vice commander and the chief of naval staff are two of the highest positions in the Philippine Navy organization next to the Flag officer in command.

The vice commander acts as the principal assistant of the Navy chief in decision-making process and policy formulation and implementation, while the naval staff chief administers all members of Philippine Navy staff in the accomplishment of the respective missions.

In his remarks during the ceremony, Empedrad underscored the importance of the turn-over of duties and responsibilities.

“It is but proper that we put the right person at the right job,” he said, further vouching for these senior officers whose “credibility, credentials, integrity and expertise” make them deserving to occupy their respective posts.

PH Navy acquires 7 new fast attack crafts, amphibious vehicles

Robie de Guzman   •   September 24, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Navy has acquired seven new fast attack crafts and amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) as the government intensifies its counter-terrorism operations.

Among those newly-acquired are three multi-purpose attack craft (MPAC) mark III, four AAV and 22 other utility vehicles.

The Philippine Navy said these units are in addition to the three missile-fitted fast attack craft that ushered the country’s naval force into the missile-age last year.

The MPACs will make up the recently activated 4th Boat Attack Division of the Philippine fleet and will soon be fitted with machine gun and missile systems.

The Philippine Navy said these highly maneuverable platform are designed for fast interdiction of surface targets, quick reaction force and naval special operations.

These are crucial for the conduct of swarming operations and projection of the “anvil” force for coastal defense.

The four AAVs, on the other hand, form part of the recently activated Assault Amphibian Company (76MC) under the Assault Armor Battalion of the Philippine Marine Corps.

“These amphibious landing vehicles allow our Marine Operating Forces to assault any shoreline from decks of Navy ships and provide them with armor protection, surface mobility for amphibious and mechanized operations, communications and maintenance capabilities,” the Philippine Navy said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the 22 multi-purpose utility vehicles consist of the initial batch of acquisition for the re-fleeting program to replace its ageing motor vehicle inventory.

The Philippine Navy said that aside from its usual operational and administrative uses, these new assets may also be employed to transfer cargo in support of combat service support operations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

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.

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