By Francis Wakefield
Three Russian Navy vessels — the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleev, the guided missile cruiser Varyag, and the large sea tanker Boris Botuma — docked in Manila on Sunday morning for a five-day goodwill visit.
The Russian Navy contingent is led by its head of mission, Rear Admiral Edward E. Mikhailov, together with the commanding officers of the Admiral Panteleev, Captain Dmitriy A. Tihomirov; the Admiral Varyag, Captain Alexsei U. Ulyanenko; and the Boris Botuma, Sergev Bondar.
Philippine Navy (PN) delegates headed by Commodore Toribio D. Adaci Jr., representing the Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy (FOIC, PN) Vice Adm. Robert A. Empedrad, accorded the visiting navy a welcome ceremony upon arrival followed by a press briefing and health and security briefing aboard Admiral Varyag.
Commander Jonathan V. Zata, the director of the Naval Public Affairs Office, said this is the first visit of the Russian Navy this year and the seventh since 2012.
However, it is the second time for the Admiral Varyag and the Boris Botuma as they visited the country last May 29, 2018, while it is the first visit for the Admiral Panteleev.
Zata said that as in their previous visits, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at Rizal monument after their arrival and a courtesy call onVice Admiral Empedrad.
A series of confidence-building activities with their Philippine Navy counterparts will be conducted such as reciprocal reception, goodwill games followed by a “boodle fight,” and shipboard tour that is also open to civilians.
A send-off ceremony with customary Passing Exercise (PASSEX) will cap their visit on January 11, 2019.
“The visit aims to strengthen the relationship between the two navies. It will further enhance and sustain the promotion of peace, stability, and maritime cooperation of the two countries through naval diplomacy and camaraderie,” Zata said.
On June 9-14, 2018, three Russian Navy vessels – the large anti-submarine ships Admiral Tributs and Admiral Vinogradov, and the large sea tanker Pechenga — arrived in the country on a goodwill visit.