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On BRP Alcaraz, water everywhere but hardly any for bathing


The BRP Ramon Alcaraz is the second Hamilton-class cutter that was acquired by the Philippine Navy under the Foreign Military Sales Program of the United States. The ship was named after Philippine Navy Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a World War II hero who commanded the Philippine Offshore Patrol’s Q-Boat Q-112 Abra which shot down three Japanese aircraft. US EMBASSY PHOTO RELEASE

Isn’t it ironic to have to conserve water when there is so much of it all around you?

A crew member of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the country’s newest warship that is making its way to Subic from the United States, recounts in the ship’s blog how everyone on board has had to  practice “water discipline” throughout their journey.

Sure, they have enough food to last the two-month trip from South Carolina, said Navy Lt. Marineth Riano-Domingo in the ship’s official blog posted on the Philippine Navy website.

“But as for water, it is only based on how much our compartment can take. With more than eight dozen people on board the BRP Ramon Alcaraz and almost two weeks of voyage, and of course a lot of other necessities and equipment operations that need water, we can say that all we have are a few drops of water to spare,” Domingo wrote.

Lt. Commander Gregory Fabic explained in a text message that the Alcaraz took on fresh water supplies at every port call, which means the crew practiced “water discipline that was  good for two weeks per voyage.”

Water discipline

Domingo wrote that practicing water discipline meant the crew at times had to forego baths and use what little water they had left for brushing their teeth and washing their faces.

Domingo likened the practice to “saving for the rainy days.”

“We, as sailors, are trained and familiar with this kind of situation. Just like the Army and the Marines who are on operations and spend most of their time walking up the dangerous mountains of Jolo, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, the sailors aboard ship also have their ways of disciplining themselves on how to maximize the limited resources on board while underway,” she said.

Domingo said that “water discipline is not an imposed rule but an inherent responsibility” of each one on board.

Water is used every single day of the journey, such as for cleaning the stations, she said.

Interesting stories

The Philippine Navy has maintained a blog written by the Navy officers on board, including Domingo, to bring the crew of the Alcaraz closer to the public.

The blog contains the most interesting stories that come up during a sea voyage.

One entry was about Alcaraz’s mess officer, Lt. Douglas Defeles, celebrating his 29th birthday on July 20 for only 45 minutes.

The Alcaraz crossed the International Date Line for the first time on July 20.

“So what happens when we do cross this line? It only tells us that we will not only be changing time zones but we would also be changing dates,” Domingo wrote.

Lost one day

“When we crossed Latitude 18 deg 00.00 deg North and Longitude 180 deg 00.00 deg, we had 20 July 2013 for only 45 minutes then the date changed to 21 July 2013 afterward. It goes to say that we lost one day in essence. Actually, there is nothing so crucial for us on the change of dates, but what about the birthday celebrator of 20 July 2013?” she said.

Defeles still celebrated his birthday aboard ship, posing for the cameras, giving a peace sign, Domingo wrote.

The Alcaraz, the Philippines’ second warship, officially entered Philippine waters on Friday morning after a two-month voyage from the United States. It will receive a grand welcome on Aug. 4 at the Subic Port in ceremonies to be led by President Aquino.

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Tags: BRP Alcatraz , Philippines , water supply

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