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FACT CHECK: No Italian warship sent to West Philippine Sea


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FACT CHECK: No Italian warship sent to West Philippine Sea
The ship in the video is the German frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (F218), which is currently active in the German Navy

Claim: Italy’s strongest warship is in the Philippines to help strengthen the Philippine Navy’s defense against China in the West Philippine Sea. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in a YouTube video that currently has 1,600 views and 59 likes as of writing. It was posted by a channel that has been fact-checked by Rappler multiple times.

The video was posted on July 8, a few days before the seventh anniversary of the Philippines’ historic win against China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

The bottom line: The ship in the video is not an Italian warship, as claimed. A Google reverse image search shows that the vessel is actually the German frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (F218), one of four Brandenburg class frigates commissioned by the German Navy. 

The ship was commissioned in December 1996 and is still in service with the German Navy. 

According to news reports, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was deployed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in January 2023, where it would cover the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and North Atlantic Sea for six months. 

Established in 2014, the VJTF is the “highest-readiness element of NATO’s Response Force.” Its purpose is to respond to major crises immediately and act as a potential warning before a crisis begins.

There are no official news reports from the embassy of Germany in the Philippines nor the Philippine Navy about the deployment of any German vessel to bolster the Philippines’ naval defense. 

Italy and the Philippines: An Italian ship was in the Philippines recently, but it was not the ship shown in the video nor was it intended for deployment to the West Philippine Sea.

According to the Philippine News Agency, the Italian Navy offshore patrol vessel Francesco Morosini was in Manila from July 8 to 11 for a “goodwill visit” and intended to develop defense and security cooperation with the Philippines.

The port call in Manila is part of the ship’s five-month naval campaign in the Indo-Pacific region.

Reiterating Italy’s support for the 2016 Hague ruling that upheld the Philippines’ sovereign rights in parts of the contested South China Sea, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Marco Clemente said the deployment of the ship was “in line with this award.” 

Italy was among the 16 European countries that issued a statement supporting the Philippines and the legally binding arbitral award. The countries said the ruling was “a significant milestone” in contributing to the maintenance of rules-based order and adhering to the international law of the sea.

Multiple false claims: Rappler has fact-checked the YouTube channel that posted the video multiple times. It has repeatedly used clips that were magnified or mirrored for its false claims about military activities:

– Katarina Ruflo/Rappler.com

Katarina Ruflo is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor.

Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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