CEBU CITY — The Philippine Navy has embarked on an intensified maritime operation to secure the central Philippine seas through its sail missions to different regions in the Visayas.
Naval Forces Central (Navforcen) public affairs officer, Ensign Maria Amanda Precious Zamuco, said the “Naval Task Group (NTG) 50.1 Stingray” started its operation on Friday (March 1) at the Captain Veloso Pier, Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Lapu-Lapu City.
Zamuco said the fourth “sortie out mission” will end in different ports of call in different regions.
“After series of successful engagements from its previous missions, STINGRAY is ready for more intensified operations as it is equipped with different components that are readily available for the different services that can be rendered for immediate action during the missions,” Zamuco said in a statement.
Under Navforcen’s Naval Task Force 50, “NTG 50.1 Stingray” is a multipurpose task group that can perform both combat and non-combat operations, Zamuco said.
The task group includes fleet of Navy ships intended for maritime patrols and security, she said.
The ships listed for the operations were BRP Ivatan (LC 298) as guide ship, followed by BRP Salvador Abcede (PC 114), BRP Alfredo Peckson (PC 372) and BRP Abraham Campo (PC 396).
Naval Special Operations Unit 5, medical, dental and civil military operations team and Navy reservists as force multipliers are integrated under the task group, she added.
Naval flag officer in command, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, led the activation and first sent-off mission of “NTG 50.1 Stingray” last December 3, 2018 at the Navforcen headquarters in Lapu-Lapu City.
The first leg of the mission included the ports of call to different municipalities in Leyte, while the second leg was in Samar, which included seaborne security for officials who attended the Balangiga Bells turn-over ceremony, she said.
The most recent mission of the task group was in the eastern seaboard, with Naval vessels departing from Lapu-Lapu City and sailed for Catbalogan City, Samar on February 1, she said.
The task group visited Allen and Dalupiri Island in Samar, Naval Biliran, Palompon, Ormoc, Maasin and Limasawa in Leyte, and the island province of Siquijor.
“Naval Forces Central has brought maritime security and territorial defense to greater heights as the Navy ships are no longer deployed individually but as a task group, more effective in projecting force from the sea,” the statement read. “The said task group also serves as a training group for the personnel of the Philippine Navy, law enforcement and local government units.”
The statement also said the Navy is committed to “developing a versatile and adaptive response based on our best available assets and capabilities in dealing with evolving challenges”.
The Central Command, headed by Lt. Gen. Noel Clement through the Naval Forces Central, is always ready “to respond to ensure the safety and security of the people in the Visayas and its nearby communities,” it said.
“We will ensure that there’s always a plan of action for every situation. We will not hesitate to aid our fellow countrymen. Through the establishment of strong partnerships, we will continue to create a maritime environment suitable for our country’s economic growth, development and sustainment,” the statement read.
John Rey Saavedra / PNA – northboundasia.com