The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the third armed uniformed service of the country, will soon have a new multi-role response vessel (MRRV) to add to its maritime assets, the BRP Melchora Aquino.
The PCG is attached to the Philippines’ Department of Transportation, and is tasked primarily with enforcing laws within Philippine waters, conducting maritime security operations, and safeguarding life.
Known as MRRV-9702, the vessel is currently at Shimonoseki Shipyard in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan and undergoing the last “harbor acceptance test and inspection” by the PCG.
It will depart Japan on May 27 and is expected to arrive in the Philippines next month where it will be commissioned into service.
MRRV-9702 Commanding Officer Coast Guard Commander Patrick Babag said the inspection was important to ensure that the vessel is “fully compliant” with the technical specifications in the contract.
The vessel will be the second 97-meter MRRV of the PCG. The first is the BRP Teresa Magbanua which was commissioned into PCG service on May 2.
The BRP Melchora Aquino was modeled after the Kunigami-class vessel of the Japanese Coast Guard.
The vessel has a speed of 24 knots and with endurance of 4,000 nautical miles.
PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu said the BRP Teresa Magbanua and BRP Melchora Aquino would be used to strengthen maritime security, maritime safety, maritime law enforcement, maritime search and rescue, and marine environmental protection capabilities of the PCG.
The MRRV-9702 was acquired by the Department of Transportation under the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project Phase II, with funds from a loan from the Japan Official Development Assistance (ODA).
The Philippine Coast Guard is the country’s vanguard against the entry of unsafe foreign vessels into the country through its Port State Control.
At present, the Philippine Coast Guard has seven PSC Centers and 15 PSC Divisions throughout the archipelago. The PSC Center in Manila has the bulk of all inspections based on frequency of foreign ship calls.
Under the law, the Philippine Coast Guard is mandated to enforce regulations in accordance with all relevant maritime international conventions, treaties or instruments of which the government is signatory and national laws.
Maritime safety or Marsaf function is designed to help prevent or minimize unnecessary loss of lives and properties at sea.
The seaworthiness of every vessel leaving the port is ensured through the intensified Mandatory Pre-departure Inspection which include the compliance of vessels to safety standards and prevention of vessels from sailing for failure to comply with the standards; conduct of random Emergency Readiness Evaluation and Operational Readiness Evaluation in the ports; conduct of regular vessel safety inspections, and publication of Notice to Mariners, and the implementation and enforcement of navigational rules and designation of sea lanes, among others.