By Martin Sadongdong
Two minesweeper vessels in the service of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) dropped anchor at the Port of Manila on Saturday for a three-day goodwill visit.
Japanese Ship (JS) “Bungo” (MST-464), an Uraga-class minesweeper tender; and JS “Takashima” (MSC), a Hirashima-class coastal minesweeper, were accorded a meeting procedure by Philippine Navy (PN)’s BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS35) as they traversed the waters off Corregidor Island before being escorted to their anchorage area at Pier 15, South Harbor.
A minesweeper is a small warship which specializes in removing explosive naval mines to counter the threat it poses on safe shipping.
JS Bungo and Takashima make up the Japanese Navy’s Minesweeper Division III under the leadership of Captain Seiji Ikubo, said Lieutenant Commander Maria Christina Roxas, acting naval public affairs director.
Capt. Mederico R Celso, deputy commander of the Naval Combat Engineering Brigade, led the Philippine delegates who accorded the visiting navy a welcome ceremony upon arrival at the port.
A briefing related to security and health aboard one of the Japanese ships shortly followed between the two navies.
Roxas said Filipino sailors will engage with their Japanese counterparts during a shipboard tour of the two visiting vessels.
She said it will not only serve as a learning experience for them but also an opportunity to enhance the mutual trust between the Philippines and Japan.
A send-off ceremony with customary Passing Exercise (PASSEX) will cap off the said visit.
It was the sixth time that a foreign navy visited the Philippines for a goodwill visit.
Aside from the Japanese Navy, naval vessels from Russia, United States, Indonesia, South Korea, and Spain have visited the country in the past nine months.