2 Philippine Navy ships join Pacific Rim exercise

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
2 Philippine Navy ships join Pacific Rim exercise
The BRP Andres Bonifacio, one of the Philippine Navy’s two biggest ships, sails with vessels from the United States, Japan, India and Singapore to participate in this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii. Image taken from the Philippine Navy’s Facebook page.

MANILA, Philippines — Two of the Philippine Navy’s biggest ships joined the United States, Japanese, Indian and Singaporean navies yesterday in a formation exercise as the vessels sailed as a group to participate in this year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise in Hawaii.

The BRP Davao Del Sur and BRP Andres Bonifacio, with a 700-man contingent, linked up with its counterpart foreign ships while passing through Johnson Atoll, a deserted 1,300-hectare atoll in the North Pacific Ocean located about 750 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii.

An Augusta Westland (AW-109) naval helicopter captured photographs of the Philippine Navy vessels in formation with Japanese ship ISE, Indian navy’s SAHYADRI, US ship William Lawrence and Singapore’s Tenacious as the group sailed to Hawaii to take part in the world’s largest international naval exercise.

The Pentagon had earlier withdrawn its invitation to the Chinese Navy to the RIMPAC in response to Chinese militarization of the South China Sea.

Commodore Jonathan Zata, Navy director for public affairs, said the event at sea was one-of-a-kind and a first for the Philippine Navy.

He said the formation exercise at sea involved linking the ships to form various formations and maneuverings that required all participating ships to communicate efficiently with each other. 

The Philippine Navy contingent and other navies in the group sail are expected to arrive in Honolulu, Hawaii in the next few days.  

Zata said the exercise is scheduled to conclude on Aug. 5, noting that the Navy’s participation in RIMPAC 2018 through the sending of a contingent of its largest ship, a frigate and modern naval helicopter is another milestone both for the Philippine Navy and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to build and enhance relationship with other participating navies. 

“With the vigorous support from the government and its stakeholders through the modernization program, the Philippine Navy now has the capability to send a contingent to RIMPAC 2018 thus, further fulfilling its diplomatic role in keeping peace and stability in the region,” he said. 

The Navy earlier said that participation in this exercise is expected to advance its maritime operational capability to multilateral level thereby increasing readiness and interoperability and enabling the nation’s premier maritime force to be more effective and efficient in the conduct of its mandated task. 

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