The BRP Alcaraz, the second warship acquired by the Philippine government from Washington to help in monitoring the country’s maritime territory, will be arriving on August 3, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.
In a statement, the Philippine Embassy in Washington said that Philippine Consul General to Los Angeles Maria Hellen Barber De La Vega and members of the Filipino community welcomed the arrival of the new Philippine warship at the 52nd US Naval Base in San Diego, California on June 29.
The BRP Alcaraz (PF-16), a Second Hamilton class cutter in Philippine Navy (PN) service and sister ship of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), was acquired by the Philippines under the Excess Defense Article and Military Assistance Program.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar was acquired in August 2011, and was sent last year to the middle of the naval standoff with Chinese vessels in the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).
BRP Alcaraz arrived in San Diego on June 28 at 11 hours after traveling 2,000 nautical miles from Charleston in South Carolina.
The BRP Alcaraz has 14 officers and 74 crew members led by Captain Ernesto Baldovino.
“The ship is capable of conducting patrols for long periods of time and can withstand heavy weather and rough sea conditions,” the statement said.
The Alcaraz was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Philippine Navy officer, who distinguished himself during World War II when the patrol boat he commanded was credited for shooting down three Japanese aircraft.
De La Vega said that BRP Alcaraz is a “fitting acquisition for the AFP’s modernization program, and enhances the naval assets of the country.”
She said that after all the Philippines is an archipelago and therefore the Philippines must attach greater focus and attention to maritime security.
The arrival of the BRP Alcaraz will come amid the ever-increasing territorial tensions between the Philippines and China.
Manila is a long-standing ally of Washington in the Asia Pacific region. It has repeatedly waved its decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) against China’s aggressiveness in the region despite a lack of actual commitment from the United States that it will come to the Philippines’ aid in case armed conflict arises with China.
Beijing has called on both countries to ensure that military ties are focused on maintaining peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and is not meant to contain a growing Chinese military threat.