PH to use 2nd vessel from Japan to patrol Panatag Shoal
The Philippine Coast Guard’s new multi-role response vessel (MRRV) from Japan will be deployed to patrol duties to the Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
PCG spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo said the second of 10 MRRVs will arrive on December 8 and will be renamed the BRP Malabrigo.
“A sea trial was conducted the other day together with the Filipino crew, led by the incoming commanding officer. It was successful and she is ready to sail for the Philippines,” Balilo said.
Fleet commander Commodore Elson Hermogino and Lieutenant Commander Geronimo Tuvilla, BRP Malabrigo’s incoming commanding officer, led the inspection of the ship in Japan.
It is the second of 10 MRRVs from Japan and will be commissioned into service right away once it arrives in the country next month.
“It would be deployed to the Panatag Shoal to augment the number of ships deployed there. At the moment there is a quick turnaround of our vessels. Once she arrives, we would have one more vessel to be assigned to the area,” Balilo said.
It was only in recent weeks that the PCG renewed its presence in the area of the Panatag Shoal to “test the waters” given the presence of the Chinese Coast Guard there.
Currently deployed there are the BRP Tubbataha, the PCG’s first MRRV; the BRP Davao del Norte and the BRP Pampanga which is on standby for deployment. Also deployed are three monitoring, control and surveillance vessels.
The Panatag Shoal is 124 nautical miles from Zambales and is within the country’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
After years of not being able to fish there, Filipino fishermen were able to return without any harassment from the Chinese. The Chinese has occupied the Panatag Shoal, a traditional fishing ground, since 2012.
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