BRP Antonio Luna makes PH proud
MANILA, Philippines — The BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) is sailing home after standing out in the recently concluded Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac), the world’s largest naval war games, ranking third out of 17 participating warships at a gunnery exercise.
The US-led Rimpac in Hawaii ended on Aug. 4 after more than a month of operations training, which included a Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) Rodeo, a naval gunfire accuracy competition where the 2,600-ton BRP Antonio Luna placed third after the US Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay and Mexican Reformador-class frigate ARM Benito Juarez.
Vice Admiral Michael Boyle, Rimpac combined task force commander, announced the winners on the last day of the Rimpac on Aug. 4, according to the Philippine Navy. The NSFS Rodeo, part of the at-sea phase of the exercise held in mid-July, required participating warships to aim at a two-dimensional virtual land target.
Performance reports were provided by the Pacific Missile Range Facility using its computerized evaluation system. The BRP Antonio Luna used its OTO Melara 76-millimeter Super Rapid gun for the exercise, the Navy said.
It was the first time for the South Korean-built frigate to join an international naval exercise overseas since it was commissioned into service in 2021. The 140-man Rimpac contingent was led by Naval Task Group 80.5 commander Capt. Charles Villanueva.
“This achievement manifested that the Philippine Navy is capable of being at par with best navies in the world, which Rimpac 2022 has helped validate by providing resources and environment that permit multinational participants to achieve their individual and collective training objectives,” the Navy said.
The Rimpac, which ran from June 29 to Aug. 4, involved 25,000 personnel, 38 ships, four submarines, nine national land forces and more than 170 aircraft from 26 countries. The drills included amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises.
“By coming together as this group of nations, we’re not just talking about being like-minded, we are demonstrating, we are the manifestation of likeminded nations by sending [and] committing forces and the money that it takes to have us come together here in Hawaii,” Boyle told reporters in a teleconference.
The Rimpac wrapped up as China conducted military drills around Taiwan, which it sees it as its own territory, following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei that infuriated Beijing.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy is also gearing up to host a large-scale multilateral exercise with its counterparts from the United States and Australia that underscores “maritime domain security and interoperability” amid China’s increasingly assertive behavior in regional seas. Japan, the United Kingdom and France will also join as observers.
A planning conference was recently held in Cebu City for the maritime training activity (MTA) Sama Sama-Lumbas, according to the Naval Forces Central. It will be the first time the annual MTA Sama Sama and Lumbas, which the Philippines holds separately with the United States and Australia, will be combined.
MTA Sama Sama-Lumbas will be held in the Visayas region in October and is expected to be the biggest exercise hosted by the Navy this year with almost a thousand participants from the Philippines, United States, Australia, Japan, and France.
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