Philippine President Benigno Aquino is to welcome the arrival of the Pacific nation's newest warship at an official ceremony.
Mr. Aquino and other high-ranking official were to inspect the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard cutter (USCGC Hamilton) acquired by the Philippines Navy in May. The 46-year-old ship will be the most capable vessel in a fleet made up of mostly World War II-era ships.
The acquisition is the latest sign of a naval buildup by several countries with competing claims in the South China Sea. China this month conducted sea trials of a refitted aircraft carrier, while Vietnam this week took ownership of a Russian-made guided missile warship. Vietnam acquired a similar Russian-made ship in March.
The Gregorio del Pilar entered the Philippines last week after a month-long voyage from the U.S., and has been undergoing customs, immigration and quarantine inspections in Manila Bay.
The refurbished ship is manned by 95 officers and enlisted personnel. It will perform such missions as drug interdiction, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations. Officials said it will also be deployed to protect the Philippines' natural gas exploration projects in the South China Sea. (VOA News)
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