THE Philippines’ second warship acquisition from the United States, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, has departed Guam and began the final leg of its journey to Manila on Monday.
In a blog post written by a Philippine Navy staff, it said that the crew of Alcaraz spent just one night in Guam and has departed the Naval Base there to reach the Subic Bay port by August 4.
The 378-foot Alcaraz is expected to enter Philippine territory on August 3 where it will be met by another Navy vessel so it can escort the warship “as tradition requires.”
President Benigno Aquino 3rd will be the guest-of-honor during the welcome rites for Alcaraz. The decommissioned vessel from the US Coast Guard is expected to be commissioned in October to the Philippine Navy, and will soon be deployed to protect the country’s exclusive economic zones.
This Hamilton-class cutter is the second acquisition of the Philippine government under the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which sets the provision for Washington to aid Manila in its aim to modernize its armed forces and establish a minimum credible defense posture.
The Philippines’ plan to modernize its army came on the heels of China’s increasing aggressiveness in its claim of the whole West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Beijing last week launched its reorganized coast guard, whose new vessels are said to be equipped with guns and cannons, to better protect its “territories” in the region.
The first Hamilton-class cutter, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, acquired by the Philippines from the United States was welcomed in August 2011. Last year, it was deployed to the Scarborough Shoal, where a two-month naval standoff between Manila and Beijing triggered a year of diplomatic spats regarding their claims on the resource-rich West Philippine Sea.