By Betheena Unite
Two more French-made patrol boats, which will be fielded for anti-smuggling missions in the country, have arrived at the Port of Subic Thursday, the Philippine Coast Guard announced Friday.
The pair of 24-meter fast patrol boats will complete the four patrol vessels acquired through an agreement between the Philippine Coast Guard and the French ship builder in 2014.
Officials said the vessels will be commissioned to service as BRP Malamawi (FPB 2403) and BRP Kalanggaman (FPB 2404).
According to Capt. Armand Balilo, Coast Guard spokesman, the “primary mission of the boats is to boost the country’s fight against smuggling,” adding that three of the four vessels will be jointly operated by the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Customs.
Two vessels of the same kind were delivered in August and September this year.
According to the Coast Guard, the acquisition of the patrol boats is under the contract signed by the Department of Transportation with maritime technology expert and ship builder OCEA S.A. of France “to strengthen the enforcement in maritime safety and security, and marine environmental protection.”
Similar to the first two patrol vessels, the new fast boats have maximum speed of 28 nautical miles per hour and can carry 12 crew and 16 passengers.
The first French-built boat arrived in Subic in August followed by “BRP Panglao” in September.
Coast Guard also said an 82-meter offshore patrol vessel is scheduled to arrive in August 2019.
Rear Adm. Elson Hermogino, Coast Guard commandant, said the procurement of the vessels includes training, provision of spare parts and technical assistance after the delivery date.
It can be recalled that men from the Coast Guard have been deployed to the Bureau of Customs to assist in the smuggling operations of the bureau for six months.
The Coast Guard is tasked to “assist in the enforcement of laws on fisheries, immigration, tariff and customs, forestry, firearms and explosives, human trafficking, dangerous drugs, and controlled chemicals, transnational crimes, the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and other applicable laws within the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines.”
Prior to this development, the two organizations also signed a pact to jointly carry out anti-smuggling operations using Coast Guard vessels.