PH welcomes newly-acquired warship BRP Conrado Yap

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019   •   437

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Navy welcomed the arrival of its newly-acquired warship, the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS39), with an official ceremony at the Manila South Harbor on Tuesday.

The warship, commissioned from South Korea, was named after a Filipino soldier who served in the Korean war as part of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea. Yap, a Philippine Army captain, was considered as the most decorated Filipino soldier during the Korean war.

The 32-year old BRP Conrado Yap 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.

“Dati surface lang iyong limitations natin with the underwater capability of BRP Conrado Yap PS39. We’ll be able to see, to detect submarines and other potential threats that we cannot see,” said Captain Marco Buena, who commanded the ship’s maiden crew.

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 ship will partner with the new AgustaWestland 159 helicopters which are also capable of anti-submarine detection.

The corvette was used by South Korea from 1987 to 2016 as Republic of Korea Navy ship Chungju (PCC-762).

It was turned over to the Philippine Navy during a commissioning ceremony held at Jinhae Naval Base in South Korea on August 5.

READ: PH Navy receives, commissions ex-South Korean warship

It set sail towards the Philippines on August 12, escorted by the BRP Davao del Sur (LD602).

While on the way to Manila, the two vessels conducted naval maneuvers and other trainings.

The ships were also shadowed by a Chinese naval vessel, which according to Captain Richard Gonzaga, Commander of Naval Task Group 80.5, was a non-hostile encounter and just a part of a protocol when passing China’s waters.

“‘Yung shadow is dahil nabigyan naman tayo ng abiso dadaan doon. Ang pag-shadow lang ng Chinese vessels, nagtanong lang sila kung kailangan ng assistance or anything which is common naman sa lahat ng navy. Pag sila naman ang dumadaan dito, sinasabi rin natin kung ano iyon…kasi sa atin is always safety iyon,” Gonzaga said.

The Philippines’ acquisition of the corvette was amid tension in the West Philippine Sea and reported incursions of Chinese warships in Sibutu Strait in Tawi-Tawi in the previous months. (RRD with details from correspondent Joan Nano)

South Korean military says North Korea fired two projectiles

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019

Chief of Public Affairs in Joint Chief of Staff (JCS), Kim Joon-Rak

North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles on Tuesday (September 10) morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, hours after a senior diplomat announced Pyongyang would be willing to resume negotiations with the United States later in September.

The “short-range projectiles” were launched from around Kaechon in South Pyongan province at around 7:00 a.m. KST (2200 GMT Monday) towards the east and flew about 330 km (205 miles), according to the JCS.

Tuesday’s launch was the eighth by North Korea since U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met at the heavily militarized border between the two Koreas in June.

The launches came after North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said on Monday (September 9) Pyongyang was willing to have “comprehensive discussions” with the United States in late September at a time and place to be agreed. (Reuters)

(Production: Dogyun Kim, Minwoo Park)

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.

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