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DOTC Secretary Abaya and Ambassador Lopez Lead Keel Laying Ceremony for the First of Ten Multi-Role Response Vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard

6 February 2016.– Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya and Ambassador Manuel M. Lopez led the Philippine Delegation in the Keel Laying and Prayer for Safety Prayer Ceremony for the first of the ten units of the Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRVs) of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

The ceremony was held on 06 February 2016 at the Isogo Works of the Japan Marine United (JMU) shipyard in Yokohama wherein the Shinto priest led in the Anzen-kigan-sai, a traditional Japanese Shinto ceremony to pray for the safe construction of the MRRVs (photo right). During the ceremony, the Shinto priest offered the sacred “Sake” and recited the Shinto prayer for the purification of the building site.

Joining the prayer for safety and keel laying ceremony were ranking officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Director Hirotaka Matsuo of the Second Southeast Asian Division, Southeast and Southwest Asia Affairs Department; other DOTC officials led by Undersecretary Juanito Bucayan, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Philippine Embassy Gilberto Asuque, ranking officials of the PCG led by Rear Admiral Cecil Chen, Commander of the Coast Guard Fleet; executives of the JMU led by Mr. Takashi Kato, Director and Senior Managing Officer; Mr. Yasushi Tanaka, Director-General, South East Asia and Pacific Department of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Minister Josel Ignacio and Mr. Louie Belleza of the Philippine Embassy; Mr. Tatsuo Uchida of the classification society Nippon Kaiji Kyoukai; and Mr. Hiroshi Sekine of the Japan Marine Science, Inc.

After the Shinto prayers, Secretary Abaya and Mr. Kato (photo left) led in the ceremonial welding of a section in the stern section of the first PCG patrol vessel with hull number 4017 that was set at the construction yard of the Isogo Works. The ceremony was concluded with a group photo in front of the stern section of hull 4017 (photo below).

In his remarks at the luncheon following the ceremony, Secretary Abaya said: We appreciate the start of construction of the first vessel and also highlight the full implementation of the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project after many years of hard work and close cooperation.” The Secretary also stressed the importance of the MRRVs for the PCG “to support the men and women of the organization in fulfilling their sworn duties.”

For his part, Director Matsuo read the message of Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Masakazu Hamachi who said the Japanese government is pleased to cooperate with the Philippines in its maritime capacity building as he stressed the importance of continuing the cooperation of Japan and the Philippines in both the software and hardware components of maritime domain awareness.

In offering the toast, Amb. Lopez said the MRRVs is one of the hallmarks of the strong cooperation and friendship of the Philippines and Japan which was highlighted during last week’s successful State Visit to the Philippines of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress.

The construction of the ten patrol boats was financed under a JPY 18.7B loan agreement under Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) administered by the JICA for the purpose of implementing the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). Each patrol vessel has an overall length of 44.5 meters with a crew of 25 PCG officers and enlisted personnel.

On 29 May 2015, DOTC and the JMU Corporation entered into a contract for the construction of the vessels and related services of the Project. Commitment between the two parties was further enhanced with the signing of a Letter of Intent between DOTC and JMU affirming their intention for mutual cooperation and partnership, considering the possibility of pursuing future projects

The first MRRV is scheduled for launching in May 2016 and will be sailing to Manila in August and delivered by September. The first MRRV is scheduled to undergo sea trials on the second and third week of June 2016. PCG officials are also set to undergo training, sea trial and sailing for Manila using the vessel sometime in June/July 2016.

Construction on the second MRRV has also commenced in December 2015 and will be completed and ready for delivery voyage to Manila by the end of December 2016. Succeeding MRRVs will be turned over to the Philippines by the end of August 2018 together with special spare parts for the vessels.

The MRRVs will strengthen the coastal patrol capabilities of the PCG to respond more effectively to maritime incidents and conduct maritime law enforcement activities within the Philippine maritime jurisdiction. END

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