By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) through the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) yesterday welcomed anew the Royal Australian Navy patrol ships in a ceremony held at the Zamboanga City Pier.
Before the ceremony, the Philippine Navy vessel BRP General Mariano Alvarez led by LCdr Ted C. Cerezo conducted a meeting procedure for entering harbor with the Royal Australian Navy vessels at 3.8 nautical miles Southeast off Tictabon Island, Zamboanga City.
The arrival of the Royal Australian Navy Ships — Her Majesty Australian Ship (HMAS) Albany and Her Majesty Australian Ship Glenelg — marks the start of the 3rd combined maritime security activity between the Philippine Navy and Australian Navy.
The ceremony was graced by the commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao Rear Adm. Rene V. Medina represented by deputy commander for marine operations, Col. Hernanie S Songano with other officers and enlisted personnel from WMC and NFWM along with its partner-stakeholders.
Australian delegates were headed by Lt. Col. Judd Finger, commander of Joint Task Force 629.
Part of the activity is the series of maritime patrols in the sea lines of communications (SLOCs) particularly in the waters of Zampelan, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi. Also, various ship drills aboard PN and RAN vessels will be undertaken for the benefit and readiness of crew on board.
Prior to this, a coordinating/planning conference was held by RAN Joint Task Force 629 with the PN counterparts as preparation for the conduct of the 3rd MSA.
Initially, the PN will be utilizing the following vessels to participate in the maritime patrol: BRP Cebu (PS 28), BRP AnastacioCacayorin (PS 381), BRP Dioscoro Papa (PC 381), BRP Filipino Flojo (PC 386) and BRP Gen Mariano Alvarez. HMAS Albany and HMAS Glenelg, meanwhile, will represent the Royal Australian Navy.
Medina said the joint cooperation and continuous conduct of such activities with other regional navies had helped the government in preventing and ending piracy, kidnappings, and terrorism in the maritime domain.
“The efforts of the military, particularly the engagement of the Fleet-Marine Team in the Western Mindanao, upholds the efforts of the government to maintain a safe maritime environment in Western Mindanao Command’s Area of Responsibility (AOR),” he said