By Francis Wakefield
The Philippine Navy (PN) will send a strategic sealift vessel to China to participate for the first time in the Chinese Navy’s fleet review later this month.
The Flag-Officer-in-Command (FOIC) of the Philippine Navy, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, said the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) will join the fleet review to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy.
Empedrad said the Tarlac will depart for Qingdao, China, on April 16 and arrive on April 21.
The ship will have 118 crewmembers and 493 passengers from the Naval Task Group, students from the Naval Education Training and Doctrine Center, and Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets.
The Tarlac is the lead ship of her class of Philippine Navy landing platform docks. She is the second ship to be named after the Philippine province of Tarlac, one of the provinces considered to have significant involvement in the Philippine revolution against Spain.
The ship can accommodate 500 troops and support vehicles and equipment.
Capt. Jonathan V. Zata, director of the Naval Public Affairs Office, said the fleet review will be held on April 23 in the city of Qingdao.
He added that the Philippine Navy’s participation in the Chinese navy’s fleet review is in keeping with President Duterte’s policy of engaging not only with the country’s traditional ally and strategic partners but other countries as well.
“The Navy, through its naval diplomacy role, maintains good relations with other countries’ navies while safeguarding our country’s maritime interests,” Zata said.