PHL, Chinese Coast Guard hold joint maritime drills in Manila

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2020   •   396

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard and Chinese Coast Guard on Wednesday conducted joint maritime drills on search and rescue and combating fire at sea in the waters off the Philippine capital.

In a statement, the PCG said participating Filipino and Chinese personnel were given a scenario involving a vessel that caught fire while transiting Manila waters.

In response, the PCG deployed its 44-meter multi-role response vessel 4401, BRP Tubbataha, while the Chinese team dispatched vessel 5204. Both ships were equipped with water cannons used in firefighting assistance.

Five passengers and eight crew aboard the distressed ship were also rescued using rigid hull inflatable boats with rescue swimmers to aid the victims.

The PCG said the drill allows coast guard personnel to exercise interoperability and strengthen their capabilities in responding to such crises.

The joint maritime drills on search and rescue, and combating fire at sea are part of the week-long activities of Chinese Coast Guard’s port call in Manila.

The visit aims to strengthen understanding, mutual trust, and cooperation between the Philippines and China Coast Guard in a bid to promote maritime security and maritime law enforcement amid the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

PCG probes Panama vessel from China for allegedly violating COVID-19 maritime security measures

Robie de Guzman   •   February 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Friday said it is investigating a cargo vessel that arrived from China for allegedly violating the country’s maritime security measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, the PCG said the captain of Panama-flagged cargo vessel MV Harmony 6 declared false information of its port clearance details when it arrived in the Philippine waters on February 23.

Initial information revealed that the vessel arrived in Changzhou, China on February 13 and left on February 18.

But the ship’s captain, Vietnamese national Luu Van Loi, allegedly declared that it left China on February 10 in order to fit into the 14-day quarantine period being implemented in all Philippine ports in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

His crew also allegedly turned off the ship’s automatic identification system (AIS) from February 19 until its arrival in the country’s waters for its next port call at the Port of Poro Point in La Union.

Under PCG’s port guidelines against coronavirus, vessels that came from any country with reported cases of COVID-19 are required to be quarantined for 14 days from its date of departure to its arrival to the Philippine waters before the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) may conduct health inspection among its crew.

Health inspection is required for the issuance of port clearance.

“However, due to the Captain’s misrepresentation of its date of departure from China, the BOQ team boarded the vessel to conduct the health inspection among its 18 Vietnamese and 5 Indian crew in just six days, instead of the required 14-day quarantine period,” the PCG said.

Through surveillance, the PCG command center and the National Coast Watch Center alerted the port state control group in La Union about the alleged misrepresentation and the turning off of the vessel’s AIS on February 24, a few hours after the BOQ conducted a health inspection on the ship.

The PCG said the vessel has been declared “under temporary detention” at the anchorage area in La Union pending investigation on its alleged violations.

The agency said it will coordinate with the quarantine bureau for the possible filing of criminal charges if MV Harmony 6 will be found guilty of committing violations.

PH inks deal with Japanese firm for procurement of 2 PCG patrol ships

Robie de Guzman   •   February 7, 2020

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade (L) and Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. president and CEO, Koji Okura (R) led the signing of the contract for the supply and delivery of two (2) units of Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRVs) under the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project, Phase II, 7 February 2020.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) on Friday said it has signed a deal with Japanese firm Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. to supply and deliver two units of multi-role response vessels (MRRV) for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade and Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. president and CEO, Koji Okura led the signing of the contract held earlier in the day.

During the ceremony, Tugade said the development, which is under phase II of Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project, is a breakthrough towards the government’s thrust of modernizing and upgrading the country’s maritime protection and border control.

“The modernization of the Philippine Coast Guard has been going fast and quick and very meaningful… The government of Japan has contributed very much, and to which I express my appreciation for your continued support,” he added.

The MRRVs are measuring approximately 94-meters, have a maximum speed of not less than 24 knots and an endurance of not less than 4,000 nautical miles.

The additional patrol vessels are seen to further boost the PCG’s response to maritime incidents in the country’s waters, up to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), such as search and rescue operations, maritime security operations, and marine environmental protection, among others.

“It is a big stride to the development of this country in the context of maritime security and maritime safety,” PCG Commandant Admiral Joel Garcia said.

The new vessels are expected to be delivered to the country by 2022.

President Koji Okura, meanwhile, expressed his intent to continuously work with the Philippine government in delivering various projects, and initiatives.

“We look forward to working with you all, in this important project and we sincerely appreciate your continuous cooperation to make this project successful,” he said.

PPA: Cargo ships from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan may now anchor in Phl ports

Maris Federez   •   February 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has allowed the cargo ships from China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan to anchor in any of the country’s seaports.

PPA general-manager Jay Santiago said the cargoes will not be contaminated with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as viruses die within 10 hours in an external environment as explained by health experts.

“The Bureau of Quarantine has already lifted that measure and we will now allow ships even from China, Hongkong, Macau, Taiwan to directly berth and discharge cargoes at the port of Manila and all other PPA operated ports,” Santiago said.

The official, however, clarified that the crews of the cargo ships will not be allowed to disembark.

Personnel from the Bureau of Quarantine will be the one to board the ship to check on the passengers and ensure that none of them present any symptoms of the 2019-nCoV.

“They will not be allowed to disembark in the Philippines’ port they will be required to stay aboard the ships,” said Santiago.

Meanwhile, three sea vessels from China were not permitted to dock in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the cargo ships arrived in Dumaguete City on Tuesday (Feb. 4) afternoon but the 11 Filipino crews were not allowed to get off as they need to undergo the 14-day quarantine.

The ships are still awaiting the designated quarantine officers who will check on all the crews. — (from the report of Dante Amento) /mbmf

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