Japan-made boats to be deployed to disputed sea

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THE Philippine Coast Guard is expecting delivery in September this year of two of the ten multi-role vessels from Japan, which, according to the PCG commander, could be deployed to the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“Actually [the vessels]can be deployed anywhere but the project is about maritime safety improvement project, where they are needed basically for search and rescue and other needs, but if needed to augment [security in the]West Philippine Sea, [they]could be deployed there,” Rear Adm. William Melad told reporters in a chance interview at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City (Metro Manila), on Thursday.

Melad disclosed that ten 44-meter multi-role vessels are on the PCG’s pipeline and two of them are expected to arrive in September, six in 2017 and the rest in 2018.

He said the ships could immediately be deployed to the South China Sea “if it is necessary.


Melad clarified that since the boats are multi-role response vessels (MRRVs) and the PCG’s project is about maritime safety, they could also be used for security patrols elsewhere.

When asked if the ships’ deployment to the contested waterway may contribute to rising tensions in the region, he said the PCG’s decision is always based on the national strategy and policy.

He noted that while the Coast Guard’s mandate is purely law enforcement, it could always contribute to the national effort.

Besides the 10 ships from Japan, Melad said negotiations for bigger sea vessels are ongoing.

“There is a negotiation for bigger vessels but it is not yet clear, it is still under negotiation…the idea is [for boats that are]92 meters, actually we have in our strategic plan, developmental efforts to acquire from 80 or range of from 80- to 125-meter vessels. There is proposal from Japan for assistance for the construction of 92 meter vessels, which [are]actually modelled after what [are]existing in the Japan Coast Guard inventory,” he explained.

FERNAN MARASIGAN

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