CHARLESTON, South Carolina—More than a year after it was turned over by the United States, the Philippine Navy’s latest acquisition, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz finally sailed for Manila on Monday in a voyage that would take almost two months.
The Alcaraz left shortly before 10 a.m. on Monday, a day after Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. visited the Alcaraz and challenged the crew to live up to the reputation of the World War II hero that the ship was named after.
“We know the expectations are high but I am sure the men and women of the Alcaraz will live up to those expecations,” Captain Ernesto Baldovino, commanding officer of the Alcaraz, said shortly before boarding his vessel.
According to Captain Baldovino, the officers and crew of the Alcaraz are looking forward to their return to the Philippines and perform their duty to protect the country’s maritime domain, particularly in the West Philippine Sea.
Defense and Naval Attache Capt. Elson Aguilar saw off the Alcaraz after simple ceremonies at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center where the vessel had been docked since it was turned over to the Philippines in May 2012.
Present during the send off were members of the Filipino community who have provided a home away from home for the 88 officers and crew of the vessel. Officials of the US Coast Guard were also present during the ceremonies.
The Alcaraz will first stop by Mayport, Florida on Tuesday, before making its way to the Panama Canal. It will make stops in San Diego, Honolulu and Agana before finally arriving in Manila around the first week of August.
The crew spent 13 months in Charleston to train in how to operate what once was the USCGC Dallas, a Hamilton-class Coast Guard cutter, and in overseeing its retrofitting.
Captain Baldovino said the training under the US Coast Guard exposed the crew of the Alcaraz to modern equipment and prepared them for the future upgrading of the country’s naval capabilities. ###