Monday, August 22, 2011

‘BRP Gregorio del Pilar’ makes port

By Victor Reyes
Malaya, Monday, August 22, 2011

THE Navy’s largest and newly acquired ship arrived from the United States yesterday morning and will be formally welcomed by President Aquino tomorrow.

Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama boarded the ship at the Manila Bay anchorage and had lunch (boodle fight) with the 95 officers and men, led by Capt. Alberto Cruz, who sailed the Hamilton cutter from San Francisco on July 18.

Pama said the ship had to undergo "customs, quarantine and immigration" inspection as part of procedures for ships coming from abroad.

After the arrival ceremony on Tuesday, the ship to be named BRP Gregorio del Pilar will undergo dry-docking and repainting. Its color will be changed from white to gray which is the official color of the Navy.

The ship will be deployed at the West Philippine Sea where the country has a vast maritime interest to protect.

The 44-year-old ship was acquired from the US Coast Guard through the US Excess Defense Articles program.

President Aquino, accompanied by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, will lead the formal welcome ceremony for the ship and its crew at the South Harbor. Guests will have the chance to tour the ship.

Pama said the ship will be an "icon to the revival of the capability upgrade of the Philippine Navy."

"This will be a symbol of our seriousness (in upgrading the Navy capability). Because we are a maritime nation, this will jumpstart our revival of our Navy’s capability," he also said.

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