MANILA — The Philippine Navy (PN) could deploy one of its two landing dock vessels, the BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), to help in evacuating overseas Filipino workers should tensions continue to escalate in the Middle East.
“The PN concept of support in the repatriation of affected OFWs in the Middle East, (is) one landing dock and possibly escorted by one Del Pilar (class offshore patrol vessel) if needed (and) will be taken into consideration as part of the PN planning,” PN public affairs office chief Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas said in a message to the Philippine News Agency.
Roxas was responding to questions on what vessels can the Navy deploy should tension between the US and Iran reach a breaking point.
Should there be a pressing need for the ships, Roxas said the PN will recommend the deployment of these two assets.
Earlier, President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to ready all its air and naval assets which could be used in the evacuation of Filipino workers in the Middle East should outright hostilities erupt in the region.
At present, there are two landing dock vessels at the PN inventory and these are the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and its sister ship, the BRP Davao Del Sur, both acquired from Indonesian shipbuilder, PT PAL PERSERO in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
These ships are the largest ships in PN inventory weighing around 7,200 gross tons and measuring 120 meters in length, a width of 21 meters and a draft of five meters. Both landing docks are capable of a cruising speed of 13 knots and a maximum speed of 16 knots and can carry 2,800 tons of cargo.
The vessels also have a minimum operating range of 7,500 nautical miles and can transport 500 troops, two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two landing craft units, and three helicopters.
As this develops, AFP spokesperson Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the planning and tasking for the possible repatriation of Filipinos in the Middle East are crucial and important for the military as this was personally ordered by the President himself.
“That is an important and crucial task for the AFP. It is more than a transport sortie. It is a humanitarian mission dedicated to take from harm’s way our fellow Filipinos and bring them to safety,” he added.
“Notwithstanding the challenges we face to carry that out, we are prepared to embark on that mission not only because it’s our mandate, but it is also in pursuit of the Commander-in-Chief’s directive. In both cases, they are because of care and compassion for our ‘Kababayans,’ ” Arevalo said. Priam Nepomuceno /PNA – NORTHBOUNDASIA.COM