The Philippine Navy remains watchful at sea, even on holidays.

 The Philippine Navy remains watchful at sea, even on holidays.

On New Year’s Day, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar anchored off El Nido, Palawan. The ship had completed sea trials and received sudden orders to participate in a three-day maritime cooperative activity (MCA) between the Philippines and the United States. Before heading to the exercise venue, the ship sailed to El Nido to pick up Navy guests and journalists.

The MCA was delayed by one day due to operational requirements from the US side. While waiting, the Del Pilar patrolled the West Philippine Sea. On the third day, only one US Navy destroyer showed up, while other US warships and the aircraft carrier were absent. Despite the cancellations, both countries conducted replenishment at sea and briefly patrolled together. The BRP Rizal did not join the MCA after its engagement with the Korean Navy.

Throughout the joint activity, Chinese warships shadowed the Philippine and US ships. The Philippine ships challenged them, but they claimed to be operating within their jurisdictional area. On the last day of the MCA, more American ships arrived, and Philippine Navy choppers transported officials to witness flight deck operations on the USS Carl Vinson.

Afterward, the Del Pilar returned to El Nido to drop off its guests. The crew started to relax. The ship has been in operation for over five decades, with 44 years under the US Coast Guard. Commander Alan Sonon emphasized the importance of sustaining their presence to strengthen their claim in these waters.

Maritime operations continue regardless of holidays or special occasions.

Mayumi Guelas

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