PCG’s largest ship detours from France to its first mission: evacuate OFWs in Middle East

Published January 8, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Betheena Unite

The arrival in the country of the Philippine Coast Guard’s largest ship, the BRP Gabriela Silang, has been postponed as it has been ordered to divert its voyage to help in the evacuation of overseas Filipino workers amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran.

(Philippine Coast Guard via Betheena Unite / MANILA BULLETIN)
(Philippine Coast Guard via Betheena Unite / MANILA BULLETIN)

Even before completing its journey from France to the Philippines, and before being officially commissioned under the Coast Guard’s service, the 83.6-meter offshore patrol vessel will carry out its first-ever mission to ferry out Filipinos as a precaution in case hostilities erupt in the Middle East.

Eighteen more crew members will also be deployed to assist aboard the ship.

According to the Coast Guard, BRP Gabriela Silang left Saint-Nazaire, France for its maiden voyage last Dec. 30, 2019 and was scheduled to reach the Philippines on Feb. 10.

However, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade directed the ship to take part in the national government’s preparation to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who may need immediate extrication.

“The arrival of BRP Gabriela Silang is halted for a greater cause,” the secretary said in a statement Wednesday.

Coast Guard commandant Admiral Joel Garcia said, “Currently docked at Malta Freeport, BRP Gabriela Silang and its 35 crew members are now preparing to sail to the Middle East, specifically to Oman or Dubai, to ensure the safety and security of OFWs through ferry missions.

In case of conflict, OFWs will be brought to safer ports where they may be airlifted, as the need arises.”

BRP Gabriela Silang is considered the largest and most advanced aluminum hull offshore patrol vessel in the world to date. It is designed to meet the demanding mandate of the Coast Guard in performing maritime search and rescue in service.

It can ferry approximately 500 people at one time and is more than capable of performing beyond its contractual specification of 20 knots of speed. It has a range of 8,000 nautical miles at 15 knots and an endurance of up to five weeks of operation. It has an excellent sea-keeping ability and maneuverability on top of the great comfort it offers for people onboard.