Navy receives research ship from US
THE United State formally turned over on Tuesday (US time) the research ship USS
Melville to the Philippines. The ship was christened BRP
Gregorio Vasques (AGR-702) and was assigned to the Navy.
USS Melville was accepted by Navy officials led by Commo. Narciso Vingson Jr., deputy commander of the Philippine Fleet, and former Navy flag Officer in Command and Defense Undersecretary Jesus Millan in San Diego, California.
Capt. Lued Lincuna, Navy public affairs officer, said on Friday that BRP Gregorio Vasquez was already steaming toward the Philippines with 50 crewmen.
The Navy personnel “underwent preparatory training for familiarization and orientation on the operation and maintenance of various equipment aboard said vessel since March this year,” he said.
USS Melville is the third ship to be turned over by the US to the Philippines under its Excess Defense Article (EDA) Program.
Two former US Coast Guard cutters were earlier turned over Navy which has commissioned them into service as BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar is currently the flagship of the Navy.
Melville’s turnover to the country was promised in November last year by US President Barack Obama while he was in Manila for the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
Obama also said a third US Coast Guard cutter, Boutwell, would be given to the Philippines under the EDA.
“The United States intends to grant the high- endurance US Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell to the Philippine Navy, the third ship of its class that we have provided in the past few years. This will provide the Philippines the ability to maintain greater maritime presence and patrols throughout its EEZ [exclusive economic zone],” the US President said at that time.
“We are also in the process of transferring the research vessel R/ V Melville to support naval research and law- enforcement capabilities [of the Philippines],” he added.
Lincuna said AGR-702 would be shared with other government agencies for ocean-related research projects.
“The research vessel will not only provide us capability for hydrographic survey, it will also become a platform for interagency collaboration for partners in the academe and, thus, improve awareness of our sub-surface environment,” Lincuna said.
“Aside from its primary mission, AGR-702 would also be a valuable platform in reviewing our Anti- submarine Warfare Capability. This acquisition also aims to address the issues in terms of marine scientific researches/ surveys and to gather marine scientific data beneficial to naval operations,” he added.
Lincuna said as a government policy that auxiliary research vessels should be named after national scientists, the AGR-702 was named after her namesake Dr. Gregorio Velasquez, a pioneer in Philippine physiology.