Phl's new warship deployed to West Philippine Sea
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - December 12, 2013 - 11:35am

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - After joining the relief operations in Tacloban, the Navy’s most capable ship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz, has been deployed to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to patrol the country’s sovereign waters.

Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Gregory Fabic said the ship would safeguard critical infrastructure in Palawan including the Malampaya gas platform. It will also secure the Kalayaan Island and some parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The ship, which was acquired recently from the United States (US) Coast Guard, arrived in Palawan on Wednesday.

“(BRP Alcaraz) is suited for high seas such as the West Philippine Sea,” Fabic said.

Read: BRP Alcaraz to patrol West Philippine Sea | Alcaraz enters Phl waters

Armed Forces Western Command (WESCOM) Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda said the deployment of BRP Alcaraz to Palawan is part of a “routine mission.”

He said the ship will also secure the Sulu Sea, which is said to be rich in oil. The South Sulu Sea is projected to yield potential oil reserves of 750 million barrels, enough to cover for the country’s daily consumption in seven years.

“It will patrol our sovereign waters,” Deveraturda said.

The BRP Alcaraz was originally intended to secure the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea.

The ship’s maiden mission was in Tacloban, where it joined the relief operations for typhoon victims last month.

The government acquired the ship from the US Coast Guard to improve the Navy’s maritime security capabilities.

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 equipped with a Bushmaster autocannon, a .50 caliber machine gun and M60 light machine gun.

It 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 spent about P450 million to acquire BRP del Pilar and more than P600 million to acquire BRP Alcaraz.

ALCARAZ ARMED FORCES WESTERN COMMAND BRP COAST GUARD COMMODORE RAMON ALCARAZ KALAYAAN ISLAND PALAWAN SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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