BRP Jose Rizal sails for Hawaii maritime exercise

The Philippine Navy (PN) on Wednesday formally deployed its first missile-frigate, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), for the two-week “Rim of the Pacific” (RIMPAC) naval exercises which will run from August 17 to 31 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In a statement, Navy public affairs office chief, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, said the send-off ceremony for the BRP Jose Rizal and its crew, the Naval Task Group (NTG) 80.5, took place at Alava Wharf in Subic Bay, Zambales.

NTG 80.5 is commanded by Captain Jerry Garrido, Jr., the commanding officer of BRP Jose Rizal, and is complemented by surface, services, and support components.

Also aboard was an AgustaWestland AW-109 “Power” naval helicopter.

Before their departure, NTG 80.5 underwent rigorous health and safety protocols prior to boarding the participating PN vessel in order to ensure the safety of everyone amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Our participation in these exercise marks the beginning of a new era of naval operations as we build up our capabilities for modern warfare,” said PN chief Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, who served as presiding officer and keynote speaker for the send-off ceremony.

BRP Jose Rizal is the PN’s first warship in the inventory that is equipped with multi-dimensional warfare capabilities.

Through this year’s RIMPAC, the PN will be able to simulate and test the capabilities of this newly acquired platform and provide BRP Jose Rizal a venue to test the proficiency of Filipino naval personnel as they integrate into a wider range of operations.

Bacordo also urged the contingent to seize the opportunity to hone their skills and talents as they conduct operations in a joint and combined environment and later share their experiences with their colleagues.

“This will boost your team training and increase your operational readiness. But all of you need to observe safety protocols. In these challenging times, it is imperative to work together, learn together and be safe together,” he added.

In light of safety protocols amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Roxas said exercises will be an at-sea event only.

“To ensure safety of all the contingents from different military forces, shore-based activities are minimized,” she added.

RIMPAC is a United States-led naval exercise hosted by the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet and held biennially.

Described as the world’s premier and largest joint and combined naval exercise, RIMPAC is geared towards building trust and partnership with other navies, understanding the capabilities of other navies and enhancing inter-operability.

“The Navy’s participation in this exercise trumpets its commitment in promoting multi-lateral cooperation leading to the strengthening of relationship and cooperation among regional and extra-regional navies,” Roxas said. PNA.GOV.PH