MANILA The two-ship flotilla of the Philippine Navy, bound for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises off Hawaii, left Cebu along with the Malaysian frigate KD Lekiu Wednesday morning.
The Navy contingent, now called Naval Task Force RIMPAC, is composed of the 7,000-gross-ton strategic sealift vessel BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), the 3,000-gross-ton frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), and an AgustaWestland AW-109 utility helicopter, along with 700 sailors and marines.
It is commanded by Capt. Ernesto Baldovino while Commodore Toribio Adaci will serve as mission head.
"The Philippine Navy is actively participating in RIMPAC for the very first time through sending contingents and its largest ship, a frigate and modern naval helicopter. This will also be an opportunity for the Navy to build and enhance relationship with other navies participating in the exercise through cultural exchanges, sports and similar activities and also engaging the sizeable Filipino community in Hawaii," Navy spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said in a statement.
"The vigorous support from the government and its stakeholders through the modernization program, provided the Philippine Navy with the capability to participate in RIMPAC 2018 further fulfilling its diplomatic role in keeping peace and stability in the region," Lincuna added.
The Filipino ships and the Malaysian craft will link up with the Indonesian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, and Royal Australian Navy for the ASEAN++ Group Sail on their way to RIMPAC 2018.
Lincuna noted that this is the first time the Philippine Navy would deploy naval and air assets to RIMPAC.
RIMPAC 2018 is scheduled on June 27 to August 2.
The Philippine Navy ships left Pier 13, Manila South Harbor for Cebu last June 1 and arrived there Sunday while the KD Lekiu docked there a day later.
Some 30 navies are expected to join this year's RIMPAC. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency