PH Navy ship catches fire, delays return from India
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Navy patrol ship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) caught fire Thursday evening (May 7) shortly after it left the port of Cochin, India.
Fire broke out at the main engine room of the ship while it was leaving Indian waters around 8 p.m. (Indian time). The fire lasted for 10 minutes, the Navy said in a statement Friday.
Two enlisted men suffered second degree burns. They will be airlifted to a naval hospital in Cochin, India for “extensive medical attention.”
Onboard engineers are now assessing the extent of the damage to the ship’s main propulsion system to determine whether they will proceed with their voyage or return to India to conduct necessary repairs, the Navy said.
“This unfortunate incident could have been worse if not for the promptness of our PN personnel in responding to the fire incident. We recognize the gallant efforts of our personnel in responding to the emergency situation in spite of the dangers involved. Rest assured that the safety and welfare of our personnel is of paramount importance,” it added.
PS-16 belongs to the Gregorio del Pilar-class, a group of three former Hamilton-class US Coast Guard ships acquired by the Philippine Navy. Its sister ship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, ran aground while on routine patrol in the West Philippine Sea in 2018 and is currently undergoing repair and upgrade.
Before the fire, the PS-16 was en route to the Philippines, together with landing dock vessel BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602).
The ships stopped by India last week to pick up face mask donations and tourists stranded by travel bans spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Philippine government deployed the two ships to Oman last January to help repatriate overseas Filipino workers, who would want to return home following the assassination by the United States of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, which drove tensions close to a full-blown war in the Middle East.
Tensions have eased in recent months and OFWS have opted not to return to the Philippines. The ships, however, were ordered by higher Philippine authorities to stay put. It stayed in Oman for almost three months and finally left on April 21.
The Navy ship considered the mission as a milestone for the service because it included a “historic sail” on the Indian Ocean by Philippine Navy ships, proving it was “now capable to sustain operations across open oceans.”
Edited by TSB
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