BRP Alcaraz to sail to Tacloban after commissioning rite
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 21, 2013 - 3:08pm

MANILA, Philippines - BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the second warship acquired by the Navy from the US, will be commissioned on Friday and will be sent immediately to typhoon-struck Tacloban City to help in the relief efforts.

The commissioning and christening ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at South Harbor in Manila.

President Aquino, who has been overseeing the humanitarian operations in areas affected by “Yolanda,” is not expected to attend the event.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin will be the guest of honor of the ceremony, which will also be witnessed by the family of Ramon Alcaraz, the war hero after whom the ship was named.

“Immediately after the ceremonies, BRP Alcaraz will embark on her first ever mission, that is humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations for the victims of super typhoon “Yolanda” in Eastern Visayas,” Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Gregory Fabic said.

The ship will specifically be deployed to Tacloban, the area worst-hit by the typhoon.

The vessel will be transporting relief items from different government agencies and non-government organizations.

“BRP Alcaraz will also be ferrying Navy personnel that will be utilized for various relief operations which will include but not limited to clearing operations, medical missions, relief goods distribution, repair and rehabilitation and security augmentation,” Fabic said.

Earlier, Fabic said the commissioning rites for BRP Alcaraz would be “low key” and “simple” as the funds for the event have been allotted for relief efforts.

“[We don’t expect] much fanfare. We will just commission Alcaraz so it can be used for the operations of the Navy,” he said in a previous interview.

Commissioning rites usually involve elaborate rituals and are often witnessed by top officials and dignitaries. Military bands are usually tapped to provide entertainment to the audience. Snacks are often served to guests, who sometimes are treated with a tour of the vessel.

The government acquired the BRP Alcaraz from the US Coast Guard to boost the Navy’s maritime security capabilities.

Manned by 14 officers and 74 enlisted personnel, the ship reached Philippine waters last August 2 via Casiguran, Aurora.

The ship departed from its homeport in Charleston, South Carolina last June 10 and made port visits to San Diego and Honolulu, Hawaii before sailing for its last stopover in Guam. The BRP Alcaraz started sailing for Manila on July 27.

The ship was formally welcomed last Aug. 6 in a ceremony led by the president. The ship arrived in Manila from Subic Wednesday night.

The vessel was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Navy officer who commanded a patrol boat that shot three Japanese aircraft during World War II.

The US Coast Guard used the vessel for drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue, living marine resources protection, and defense readiness.

BRP Alcaraz is the second frigate acquired by the Philippines from the US. The first one is BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which was commissioned by the Navy in 2011.

The government allotted about P450 million to acquire BRP del Pilar and more than P600 million to acquire BRP Alcaraz. The two decades-old vessels were acquired under the US defense excess article program.

ALCARAZ BRP COAST GUARD COMMODORE RAMON ALCARAZ DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN EASTERN VISAYAS FABIC LIEUTENANT COMMANDER GREGORY FABIC NAVY RAMON ALCARAZ
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