MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines’ second warship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16), has started its voyage to its new home from Charleston in South Carolina, USA.
“BRP Ramon Alcaraz gets ready for voyage to the #Philippines. Fair winds, blue skies and following seas!” the Philippine Embassy in Washington posted in its Twitter account (@philippineusa) at 9:40 p.m. Monday (Philippine time).
The Philippine embassy also quoted Capt. Ernesto Baldovino, commanding officer of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz as saying, “We have finally embarked on our maiden voyage to our motherland.” It said the warship left South Carolina 10 a.m. Monday (US time).
“Expectations are high but I am sure the men and women of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will live up to those expectations,” he added.
Before departure, the Filipino crew of the warship had “emotional farewells” from the members of the Filipino community in Charleston.
“Filipinos in Charleston served as foster families of officers and crew of Alcaraz during (their) 13-month stay in South Carolina,” the embassy tweeted.
The BRP Ramon Alcaraz is a 378-foot decommissioned US Coast Guard ship that the Philippines acquired last year. It underwent $15.5 million (P620 million) worth of retrofitting and refurbishment. It finished a month of sea trials before making its voyage to the Philippines. It is expected to arrive in the first week of August.
The Hamilton-class weather high endurance cutter had served the US Coast Guard for four decades. It was acquired by the Philippine Navy under the Excess Defense Article Military Assistance Program of the US.
The warship is named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a World War II hero who shot down three enemy aircraft while he was aboard an offshore patrol boat.
The BRP Ramon Alcaraz will join BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the country’s first warship, which was acquired in 2011. It is a 48-year-old Hamilton-class cutter that underwent P450-million refurbishment.