By Francis Wakefield
Two Thailand frigates – the HTMS (His Thai Majesty’s Ship) Naresuan (FFG-421) and Bangpakong (FFG-456) – arrived at Pier 15, South Harbor, Manila on Friday, March 29, 2019, for a four-day goodwill visit to the country.
The Thai delegation is headed by the Deputy Commander of Royal Thai Naval Academy, Rear Adm. Chanint Phadungkiat. Part of the visiting contingent is the RTN Cadet Cruise Training Unit, which is comprised of more than 500 naval cadets.
The customary practice that the Philippine Navy (PN) renders to all visiting navies began with a PN vessel, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF16), meeting the RTN vessels at the vicinity of Corregidor Island and subsequently escorted them to the berthing area.
PN delegates headed by the Commander of Naval Combat Engineering Brigade, Commo. Alberto B. Carlos then accorded the visiting navy a welcome ceremony followed by a presser and port briefing related to health and security aboard one of RTN vessels.
In his statement, Commo. Carlos warmly welcomed the RTN delegation and highlighted the significance of the visit.
“The arrival of our Royal Thai Navy counterparts underscores the continuing efforts to further strengthen the relationship between our governments and navies. This will further enhance and sustain the promotion of peace, stability, and maritime cooperation through naval diplomacy,” Carlos said.
For his part, Rear Adm. Phadungkiat conveyed his appreciation for the warm welcome of the PN and expressed keenness in the scheduled engagements between the two navies during their stay in Manila.
Phadungkiat and the commanding officers of two RTN ships are scheduled to have a courtesy call on the Flag Officer in Command, PN, Vice Adm. Robert A. Empedrad at the PN headquarters in Roxas Blvd., Manila. Also lined up are confidence building engagements between PN and RTN personnel such as shipboard tour, reciprocal receptions and friendly games.
A send-off ceremony will be accorded the ships on their departure on April 2. A designated PN vessel will also conduct Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with the departing vessels.
HTMS Naresuan (FFG-421) and Bangpakong are modified Type 053 frigate. FFG-421has a displacement of 2,985 tons and is capable of reaching a speed of 32 knots.
Captain Jonathan V. Zata, director of Naval Public Affairs Office, said this year’s visit marks the fourth time that RTN ships arrive in the country since 2010 and third time for HTMS Bangpakong which was also here during their goodwill visits in February 2013 and February 2015.
The other visit was the arrival of HTMS Taks in and Chaopraya in March 2010.
Zata said the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries can be traced back to 1940s when the Treaty of Friendship was signed. From then on, relations between the two countries started to strengthen and flourish. Both became founders of SEATO in September 1954 and ASEAN in August 1967.
“This visit translates into sustainment of already strong friendship between the Philippines and its ASEAN partner navy which also benefits both armed forces. The fitting reception bestowed by PN promotes peace and stability and enhances maritime cooperation through naval diplomacy and camaraderie,” Zata said.