A PHILLIPINE Navy vessel stopped by Guam during the weekend, receiving a warm welcome from the Filipino community Friday morning until its departure on Sunday.
The ship was recently acquired by the Philippine government and is slated to be the largest and most capable combat vessel of the Philippine Navy. It’s also the first major military acquisition made by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III's administration.
The former United States Coast Guard cutter was turned over to the Philippine Navy and renamed BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) with Captain Alberto Cruz as its first commanding officer.
According to Capt. Cruz, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar began its maiden voyage to the Philippines on July 18, beginning from Coast Guard Island Alameda, California, with stopovers to Hawaii and Guam.
There are 95 crew members on board. “Out of the 95, there are 13 officers, including me,” said Capt. Cruz.
The ship was provided to the Philippine government through an Excess Defense Article (EDA) grant, according to Commander Demetrius “DJ” Haynie, Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group Philippines.
The ex-USCG cutter was decommissioned earlier this year and transferred to the Philippine Navy on May 13.
“The Philippine government used their own funds to purchase it from the U.S.,” said Cdr. Haynie, who took part in the process of procuring the ship. “This is the first of this class, of this type of transfer and it’s been very successful,” he added.
‘First major acquisition’
A certificate of resolution was presented to the crew of BRP Gregorio del Pilar, through Senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr., on behalf of the Legislature.
“This is the first major acquisition under President Aquino,” said Rodriguez. “I think it’s important for me to recognize them with the certificate that commends and recognizes them and of course extends our warm Hafa Adai and welcome.”
Rodriquez added that last month, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled port visit in July 27, where they were well-received by Hawaii’s Filipino Community.