By Francis Wakefield
The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) through the Philippine Navy welcomed the Royal Australian Navy in Tawi-tawi for the 2nd leg of the 4th Combined PN-RAN Maritime Security Activity, held on Sunday.
Naval Station Juan Magluyan, an organic unit of NFWM facilitated the Arrival and Opening Ceremony of the 4th Combined PN-RAN MSA with the two Royal Australian Navy Patrol Boats – HMAS Ararat and HMAS Wollongong in Batu-bato, Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi.
The said activity was attended by Lt. Col. Judd Finger of the JTG 629 of the Australian Government and Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Muksin A Jasid, Commander, Naval Station Juan Magluyan. They were joined by the officers of NSJM and Commanding officers of PN vessel.
Right after the opening ceremony, fellowship games between the PN and RAN delegates were held followed by a boodle fight which served as a symbol of brotherhood and strong bond between the two navies.
Moreover, series of meeting procedures and maritime patrols in the Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs) particularly in the waters of ZAMPELAN (Zamboanga Peninsula, Lanao) Basilan and Tawi-Tawi were conducted during the Maritime Security Activity. Also, various ship drills aboard PN and RAN vessels were also undertaken for the benefit and readiness of crew on board.
Vessels involved in the maritime patrols under the control of NFWM include BRP Felix Apolinario (PC 395), BRP Anastacio Cacayorin (PC 387), Multipurpose Attack Craft BA 482. On the other hand, HMAS Wollongong and HMAS Ararat were utilized by the Royal Australian Navy.
Prior to this, a Coordinating/Planning Conference was held by the PN with RAN counterparts on June 5, 2018 as preparation for the conduct of the 4th MSA. Likewise, the first leg of the said MSA was held in Naval Forces West Area of Responsibility (NFW AOR) from July 16- 25, 2018.
According to the AFP WestMinCom, the continuous conduct of such activity enhanced the maritime interoperability between the PN and RAN and other regional state navies and to also complement the current operations of the Naval Task Group Basilan and Naval Task Group ZAMPELAN to pre-empt and end piracy, kidnappings and terrorism in the maritime domain.
Also, the efforts of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao is in support to the anti-terrorism and piracy campaign of the government to maintain a safe maritime environment in Western Mindanao Command’s Area of Responsibility (AOR).