THE Philippine Coast Guard's (PCG) second 97-meter multirole response vessel (MRRV) was launched at the Mitsubishi Shimonoseki shipyard in Yamaguchi, Japan, where the ship was lowered to the water for the first time since its construction.

The ship is the second of two MRRVs acquired by the PCG and will be among its largest assets to date.

In his opening remarks, Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade observed how this project has reflected the strong ties between the Philippines and Japan.

Tugade recognized Japan as the Philippines' closest development partner, reinforced by its continued contribution to the Philippine growth story.

He stressed how the MRRV will significantly improve the PCG's response capabilities in maritime search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response operations.

"These new vessels represent a significant step forward in our continuing efforts to modernize the Philippine Coast Guard. Moreover, these vessels, with their modern equipment and capabilities, will safeguard our country's maritime resources and ensure the observance of rule of law in the Philippines' maritime jurisdiction," Tugade said.

The procurement of the MRRV is part of Phase 2 of the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the PCG. Its features include a survivors' room that will accommodate search and rescue victims, six hospital beds to respond to emergencies and a decompression chamber.

The launch of this second vessel reaffirms the two countries' robust maritime cooperation, in a key year as both countries celebrate the 65th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations and a decade of their Strategic Partnership.

The first 97-meter MRRV was launched in July. Both ships will be officially turned over to the Philippines in 2022.