The Philippines received its first of ten coast guard vessels from Japan yesterday to help boost its maritime and law enforcement capabilities.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) formally received the first multi-role response vessel (MRRV), which was named BRP Tubbataha, from the Japanese government after an arrival and blessing ceremony at the Headquarters Coast Guard Ready Force, Pier 13, South Harbor in Manila.
Rear Admiral William Melad, the Philippine coast guard chief, said the delivery would be a boost for the country’s capabilities given the threats it has to face. As I have detailed previously, the Philippine military, one of the weakest in the Asia-Pacific, had begun to invest more significantly and strategically in its capabilities under former president Benigno Aquino III, who was replaced by Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year (See: “The Truth About Philippine Military Modernization and the China Threat“).
“In the past few years, we have all been witness to the growing and evolving challenges the Philippine Coast Guard is facing and the maritime and sea-traveling public has had to face,” Melad was quoted by Japanese media outlets as saying.
The 44-meter vessel departed Japan on August 11, with two PCG officers and ten non-officers abroad, according to a PCG statement. Nine more MRRVs are expected to be delivered by Japan in line with a project called the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project which was awarded to the Japan Marine United Corporation (JMU) last week.
The project is being implemented as an official development assistance (ODA) project, with a tied loan of around 7.4 billion pesos ($409 million) out of the total of 8.8 billion pesos with the rest being sourced from the Philippines. Japan will also supply standard spare parts and tools, crew training, ocean transportation and marine insurance.
According to the PCG, under the project terms, the MRRVs will be used for the PCG for search and rescue operations, assistance in marine environment protection, law enforcement, relief, and transport. They have a standard cruising speed of 25 knots and a range of 1,500 nautical miles.
In addition to these 44-meter MRRVs, Japan and the Philippines are also looking at the transfer of two larger 90-meter MMRVs to Manila. Details were discussed in a meeting between Philippine and Japanese officials during Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to the Southeast Asian state last week.