THE Philippine Navy (PN) has sent an eight-man contingent to Australia for a joint exercise with their counterparts, the first time since the Senate of the Philippines ratified the Philippine-Australia Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) last year.
Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic on Friday said the Filipinos will participate in Exercise Triton Century 2013 and will witness as well the Australian International Fleet Review, which marks the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy’s first fleet entry into Sydney.
“The Philippine Navy participation is historic as it marks the first contingent from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to travel to Australia and participate in joint exercises since the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement was ratified in 2012,” Fabic said.
He said the Filipino sailors are now on board HMAS Parramatta to participate in boarding activities and to cross train on various systems of the warship.
The HMAS Parramatta is an Anza class frigate. It is weighs around 3,600 short tons with a top speed of 27 knots. The ship is equipped of a single 5-inch gun and point-defense missile system supported by a missile-armed helicopter, among others. Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Jose Luis M Alano said the initiative is a welcome development.
“Filipinos and Australians have much in common, as both countries have sizable maritime borders. We find this a great opportunity for Philippine sailors to work side by side their Australian counterparts and likewise gain significant knowledge, skills and training that would be very crucial in a modernizing navy,” Alano added.
Australia Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell also welcomed the participation of the Filipino sailors in the in the exercise.
”We have a rich defense relationship with the Philippines extending back to the Second World War. While many Filipinos have benefited from education and training in Australia under our Defence Cooperation Program and Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have participated in training in the Philippines, this is the first time Filipinos have participated in an exercise in Australia since the SOVFA was ratified. We look forward to more similar engagement in the future”.
William B. Depasupil