TWO Russian Navy ships led by a guided-missile cruiser arrived in Manila on Thursday for a four-day goodwill visit.
Varyag, a Slava-class guided missile cruiser, was welcomed by Philippine Navy officials as it berthed at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila along with large sea tanker Pechenga.
The Russian Navy contingent is headed by the Varyag commanding officer and concurrent Task Group Commander, Capt. Alexsei Ulyanenko.
Capt. Lued Lincuna, Navy spokesman, said Philippine Navy vessel BRP Rajah Humabon (FF11) rendered customary meeting procedures at the vicinity of Corregidor Island and escorted the vessels to their designated berthing area.
Navy representatives then accorded the visiting navy a welcome ceremony upon arrival followed by a port briefing related to security and health aboard one of the Russian ships.
This was the second time Russian Navy ships arrived in the country this year.
In January, Manila was visited by a large anti-submarine ship of the Pacific fleet, Admiral Tributs, a 6,930-ton Project 1155 Udaloy I-class anti-submarine warfare destroyer originally built for the Soviet Navy, and Boris Butoma, a Chilikin-class fleet replenishment oiler.
Lincuna said the Russian Navy contingent will engage in a series of confidence-building activities with their Filipino counterparts such as courtesy call on the Flag Officer In Command, wreath-laying ceremony, reciprocal receptions, Russian cultural show at Rizal Park (Luneta), goodwill games followed by a boodle fight and shipboard tour that is also open to civilians.
The engagement between the Philippine and Russian navies will culminate with a send-off ceremony and a customary passing exercise between the visiting ships and FF11 at the vicinity of Corregidor Island.
Lincuna said the visit is expected to enhance understanding and cooperation between the Philippine and Russian Navies
President Rodrigo Duterte had said he is considering joint naval exercises with Russia as a move to enhance the two countries’ maritime ties. FERNAN MARASIGAN