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SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines – The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) frigate, His Majesty’s Canadian Ship Ottawa (HMCS Ottawa), docked at the Riviera Wharf in Subic Bay, Zambales on Thursday, September 14. Two more Canadian naval ships are set to arrive in the country this month.
David Hartmann, ambassador of Canada to the Philippines, said in a press briefing on Thursday that the increased physical presence of the RCN illustrates the significance of Canada’s commitment to the country.
“The augmented physical presence of the RCN here is a multi-billion dollar commitment. One of these vessels cost approximately $1.5 billion. The fact that we’ll have two naval frigates here deployed full-time is an illustrative demonstration of the significance of Canada’s commitment. It is a significant stance and posture that the government is proud to implement,” said Hartmann.
He also said they are working together with members of the international community to provide support to the Philippines in its territorial defense and integrity over the West Philippine Sea.
“We’ve worked very closely with all the members of the international community who are working together in unison to provide support to the government of the Philippines in the defense of your territorial sovereignty and integrity. Canada’s position on this has been very clear and vocal in support of our partner allies and we will continue to do so,” said Hartmann.
The MV Asterix, an auxiliary supply vessel leased to the RCN, will arrive in Subic Bay on September 16, Saturday to provide replenishment and resupply services to RCN ships. The HMCS Vancouver will arrive in Manila at the end of the month.
Colonel Stewart Taylor, defense attaché of Canada to the Philippines and Indonesia, said the increase in the number of their vessels in the region shows their commitment to enhance and strengthen engagement with their partners.
“We haven’t been to Subic for a while. However, ships have been in the region for decades. This is routine for us. But the fact that we have three ships coming to the region, on a yearly basis, shows a clear demonstration of our commitment to increase engagement and cooperation,” Taylor said.
“There are specific lines of effort that are focused on defense and security and one of them actually is increasing the number of vessels in the region to enhance and strengthen our engagement with our partners here,” he added.
HMCS Ottawa is one of 12 frigates in the RCN with almost 250 sailors, aviators, and soldiers onboard.
HMCS Ottawa traversed the Taiwan Strait from Japan as it headed towards Subic Bay in Zambales where it will be docked until September 19, Tuesday.
Captain Samuel Patchell, commanding officer of the HMCS Ottawa, said no significant challenges were experienced during the trip as all encounters in their transit have been safe and professional. He added that this presence is a commitment to increase security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Through our ongoing engagements in the Indo-Pacific, we are reinforcing partnerships with navies from across the region. I look forward to working closely with the Philippine Navy throughout our visit to Subic Bay. These activities build interoperability between Navies, while reaffirming our shared commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Patchell said. – Rappler.com