PHILIPPINE military and defense officials are set to witness the launching in Indonesia of one of two Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSVs) bought by the Philippine Navy for its humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) operations, a military spokesman disclosed on Friday.

The launching or the removal of the ship from the drydock and allowing it to float at sea for its next stage of testing, according to Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, will be held on Sunday at the PT Pal shipyard in Indonesia.

Padilla said the acquisition of the SSVs is a very important milestone for the Navy because they will increase its capacities for HADR during critical moments.

These ships would be the first of their kind to be operated by the Navy.

“What will we benefit from this SSV? It’s the ability to bring en masse a sizeable number of relief and human assistance and disaster response personnel [to]critical areas that may be hit by disasters. Another is, it’s a stand-alone command and control ship that can coordinate rescue, recovery and retrieval efforts during disasters, as well as, along with the bulk of goods and relief items that can be provided to our citizens,” Padilla explained.

Also, he said, an SSV has the capability to be used as a floating hospital, in case many of health centers and hospitals in provincial areas that may be affected by disasters become unavailable.

It can also be deployed as a command and control ship during contingencies, anywhere in any part of the Philippine archipelago.

After its launching in Indonesia, the first of the ships will be delivered to the Philippines in May this year.

Delivery of the other ship would be in May 2017, he said.

When asked if the ships would be armed, Padilla said, “The SSVs’ weapons system will be solely at the discretion of our Navy, and I think they are preparing for that, at the moment I am not at liberty to divulge any of those arrangements.”


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