PH Navy warship Alcaraz off to Australia

By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 18 2014 09:27 AM | Updated as of Aug 18 2014 05:27 PM

MANILA - Philippine Navy warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz left Subic Bay yesterday to join a multilateral naval exercise that will be held in Australia.

A total of 180 Filipino sailors will participate in the Kakadu 2014 war games from Aug. 25 to Sept. 12 at the Northern Australia exercise area.

The Philippine delegation to the exercise was sent off yesterday in a ceremony led by Navy Vice Commander Rear Adm. Isabelo Gador in Subic.

The delegation consists of the crews of BRP Alcaraz and Navy helicopter Augusta Westland PNH431, a medical team, and the exercise directorate members.

Kakadu is the largest international maritime exercise hosted biennially by the Royal Australian Navy. The activity seeks to promote and enhance regional interoperability and cooperation among participants.

Twelve countries have sent representatives to the exercise. Five of them – Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Australia and the Philippines – have ships and aircraft.

The remaining seven countries – Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Thailand, Vanuatu, South Korea and India – will be sending observers.

The exercise will be held amid the territorial row in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and East China Sea.

Both the Philippines and Japan are embroiled in a territorial dispute with China, whose occupation of disputed areas has been stirring tensions in the region.

China claims almost the entire West Philippine Sea while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

It is also claiming the Senkaku Islands in East China Sea, an area that Japan considers as part of its territory.

The Philippine Navy said the exercise would provide an opportunity for participants to enhance cooperation, camaraderie, and good working relationship.

“The Philippine Navy’s participation is expected to enhance its surface warfare capabilities and interoperability with regional navies,” said Ensign John Abing, public affairs officer for Kakadu 2014.