PH's biggest ship off to join war games in Australia
MANILA, Philippines – The country's most capable warship – BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF 16) – sailed to Australia on Sunday, August 17, to participate in war games that the Royal Australian Navy is hosting next week.
The Philippines is one of 12 countries that will participate in the "Kakadu 2014," one of the largest international maritime exercise that happens every 2 years. This year's exercises will be held from August 25 to September 12.
"Philippine Navy's participation is expected to enhance its surface warfare capabilities and interoperability with regional navies. It will also be an opportunity for the Philippine Navy to enhance cooperation, camaraderie, and good working relationship with the participating navies," said Ensign John Windy Abing, Navy public affairs officer, in a statement.
"The Philippine Navy's participation in multilateral exercises is an affirmation of its commitment in collaborating with other navies to promote peace and stability in the maritime region," Abing added.
One of the weakest militaries in Asia, the Philippine Navy is upgrading capabilities and training of personnel to have a "minimum credible defense" posture in the wake of escalating tensions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). (READ: State of PH Navy modernization: 'Golden Days will return)
The team also brought with them one of the brand new naval choppers from Italy.
Up to 180 Philippine Navy personnel led by Philippine Navy Vice Commander Rear Admiral Isabelo Gardor. This is only the 2nd time that the Philippines is participating in the exercises. The Navy joined in 1999 and only sent personnel as observers in the following exercises.
The other countries that will send ships and aircraft this year are Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan and Australia. Seven others, including China, are sending personnel as observers.
Earlier in March, Alcaraz's twin ship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar also sailed to Indonesia to participate in the "Komodo" naval exercises that was participated in by 16 countries. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com