Navy’s most modern ship sails to Spratlys

Rappler.com
Bought from the US, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar is under the Naval Forces Command

MANILA, Philippines – BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the Philippine Navy’s largest and most modern ship, was deployed Friday, Dec. 23, 2011, to the West Philippine Sea where it will help protect the country’s maritime interest.

The send-off ceremony at South Harbor, Manila, was presided over by the Navy’s Philippine Fleet commander, Rear Adm. Jose Luis Alano. According to Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay, the ship will be placed under the operational control of the Naval Forces Command, which covers the West Philippine Sea, or South China Sea, as among its area of operations.

“(It) will form part of the Navy’s naval forces operating in the vast West Philippine Sea,” said Tonsay of the ship, which was commissioned and christened during rites attended by President Benigno Aquino III last Dec. 14.

The ship was acquired through the US Foreign Military Sales program, using funds from the Malampaya gas-to-power project.

“Funded by the Department of Energy, the primary mission of PF-15 (Patrol Frigate-15) will be to secure the Malampaya Project while it is also expected to secure the Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea area,” Tonsay said.

“Her sendoff follows about a week of pre-deployment preparations mostly composed of refueling, re-watering, supply replenishment, final cast-off inspections, and deployment and sovereignty patrol planning,” he added.

The Navy spokesman said BRP Gregorio del Pilar will join several other Navy ships deployed in the West Philippine Sea,  including the BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11) – the Navy’s flagship – and BRP Federico Martir (PG 385).

West Philippine Sea hosts the Spratly Islands, a chain of islands and islets believed to be rich in oil and minerals deposits. The Spratys is being claimed in part or on whole by the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunie and Vietnam. – Rappler.com