Another first: PCG to deploy six ships for US, PH war games

Another first: PCG to deploy six ships in next week’s US, PH war games

/ 02:48 PM April 18, 2024

For the first time, the Philippines Coast Guard (PCG) will deploy six vessels for the expanding Balikatan war games in view of the mounting tensions in the West Philippine Sea. 

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — For the first time, the Philippines Coast Guard (PCG) will deploy six vessels for the expanding Balikatan war games in view of the mounting tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo on Wednesday said four 44-meter multi-role response vessels (MRRVs) and two larger patrol vessels will be deployed in the exercise which will commence next week.


Balilo noted that these vessels “regularly conduct maritime security operations in the country’s exclusive economic zones.”


The PCG regularly deploys these 44-meter MRRVs during the rotation and resupply (Rore) missions in Ayungin Shoal and the humanitarian missions in Scarborough Shoal, which have become the flashpoint of tensions between Manila and Beijing.

Beijing asserts sovereignty in the entire South China Sea, including most of the West Philippine Sea, even if such a claim has been effectively invalidated by a July 2016 international tribunal ruling from a case filed by Manila in 2013.

Drills to help ‘empower’ PCG

A security expert on Thursday said this move would further bolster the capabilities of the “empowered” PCG.

“Open seas like the West Philippine Sea must have more Coast Guard vessels to police the contested water,” Chester Cabalza told in a text message.

“But this should be simulated and rehearsed as a preventive measure to the escalatory maritime insecurity in the South China Sea.”


Cabalza noted that the Rore used to be a military operation “but to lessen the tension, PCG vessels acted as secondary support.”

“This experimental move is an act of empowerment to the white ships,” Cabalza said of the PCG’s role as “secondary support.”

Trilateral patrols

In another first, there will be trilateral patrols between the Philippines, United States and France in the West Philippine Sea, but it is not yet clear if the PCG will participate in this event.

READ: Coast guard teams, newest missile system in PH-US drills

Col. Michael Logico, Balikatan exercise’s executive agent, said the AFP conducts group sails during Balikatan but only inside the 12 nautical mile territorial waters of the country.

“Now we are venturing outwards,” he said in an AFP regular press conference on March 20.

READ: Philippine, US, French navies to sail in West PH Sea for Balikatan

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The PCG could deploy its two 97-meter MRRVs, the biggest vessel in its fleet. This MRRV class, based on Japan’s Kunigami-class design, has a maximum speed of at least 24 knots and an endurance of at least 4,000 nautical miles.

Also the PCG has 10 44-meter MRRVs in its fleet. Also built by Japan, these MRRVs also have a standard cruising speed of 25 knots and a range of 1,500 nautical miles, with features including fire monitors, night vision camera, radio direction finder, a work boat, and the bullet-proof navigational bridge.

TAGS: coast guard, United States, War Games, West Philippine Sea

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