By Roy Mabasa
The USS Chief, an Avenger-class minesweeper that is practically made of wood with fiberglass coating, is currently in Manila to work with the Philippines to strengthen regional security and stability and enhance interoperability.
“The crew of Chief is thrilled at the opportunity to visit Manila,” USS Chief Commanding Officer Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Crayton told a select group of reporters who were invited to tour the highly specialized warship on Wednesday.
Crayton said it was the first time that the ship is visiting the Philippines since its commissioning in 1994. It is the last of the mine countermeasure (MCM) ship to be made under the United States Navy.
“Our camaraderie with the Philippines is one of our most enduring relationships in the Indo-Pacific region. The Filipino people are some of our closest friends, partners, and allies in which we share a connection based on shared sacrifices for democracy, human rights, and strong societal ties,” Crayton said.
While in Manila, the 90 officers and sailors of the USS Chief will have the chance to visit the city and interact with the Filipino community and the Philippine Navy.
One of the sailors of the USS Chief is Filipino-born Culinary Specialist 1stClass Angelo Dano who moved to the US in 2003 at the age of 20.
Dano joined the Navy as an undesignated seaman a few months after arriving in the U.S. to follow his grandfather’s path in life, who retired as a chief storekeeper.
During the media tour of the ship, Crayton said he saw the possibility of the USS Chief interacting with the Philippine military in the future.
“Hopefully so, any opportunities that we have to work together with Philippine Navy, big or small, we definitely want to take that opportunity. It’s all about security and stability of Indo Pacific region,” the US Navy official said.
According to the ship’s specification and capability, the USS Chief is designed to find, classify and destroy moored and bottom mines. MCMs are designed to mask their magnetic and acoustic signatures so they can get close enough to use advanced sonar and remote vehicle systems combined with cable-cutters, magnetic cables, and explosives to safely detonate and dispose of mines in both shallow and deep water.
USS Chief is currently based in Japan’s southernmost port of Sasebo. It is part of Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7 operating in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Chief’s five-day port visit in Manila will end on Thursday, March 21.