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Aquino to welcome new Philippine Navy ship

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09:37 AM August 23rd, 2011

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August 23rd, 2011 09:37 AM

MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III will welcome the newly acquired Philippine Navy vessel, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, in Manila South Harbor, Tuesday.

Photo by Katherine Evangelista/INQUIRER.net

The 378-foot vessel arrived in the Philippines August 21 after several weeks of voyage from Hawaii.

Aquino arrived at the the Manila South Harbor Pier 13 at before 9 a.m.

Aside from Aquino, also welcoming the vessel are Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Navy Flag Officer- in-Command Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, and Philippine Navy Fleet 15 Commanding Officer Captain Alberto Cruz.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a Hamilton class US Coast Guard-Weather High Endurance Cutter, was purchased through the US Excess Defense Act using funds from the Department of Energy’s Malampaya project.

The ship, which can carry up to 180 crew members and was first launched in December 1965, is classified by the Philippine Navy as a surface combatant ship. It is equipped with a helicopter flight deck, a retractable hangar and other facilities to support helicopter operations.

The Philippine Navy has trained 13 officers and 82 enlisted personnel to man the ship.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar was formerly used by the US Coast Guard for drug and illigal migrant interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue operations, maritime resources protection and defense readiness.

The Philippine Navy, meanwhile, will use the multi-mission vessel for maritime security patrols and search and rescue missions.

Specifically, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar will be deployed to air maritime security of the Malampaya project.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar was turned over to the Philippine Navy last May 13 in ceremonies held at Coast Guard Island Alameda, California.

Also present during the ceremonial welcoming are US Ambassador Harry Thomas and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

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