BRP Gregorio Velasquez to boost PN hydrographic and oceanographic survey capability
MANILA (PNA) -- With the BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702) now in Philippine Navy (PN) inventory, the country will now have the capability for hydrographic and oceanographic survey.
"The ship will provide the PN the capability for hydrographic and oceanographic survey and will also become a platform for inter-agency collaboration partners from the academe and thus improve awareness of our sub-surface environment," Capt. Lued Lincuna, PN spokesperson, told the Philippines News Agency on Friday.
Lincuna said the ship can also perform search-and-retrieval operations and support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
BRP Gregorio Velasquez left Guam on June 2 and arrived at Manila Bay by 11 a.m. last June 8.
The ship left San Diego, California last April 27 after being formally transferred to the PN. She arrived in Guam on May 28.
The BRP Gregorio Velasquez is commanded by Cmdr. Edwin Nera.
Aside from helping map the country's vast maritime domains, the BRP Gregorio Velasquez (formerly the US research vessel Melville) will also help develop the PN's anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability.
"Aside from its primary mission, AGR-702 would also be a valuable platform in reviewing our anti-submarine warfare capability," he said.
Lincuna did not give specifics on this but the PN is in the process of developing its ASW capability after signing a contract to acquire two AW-159 "Wildcat" anti-submarine helicopters with AgustaWestland last March. The contract is worth Php5.360 billion.
These helicopters are expected to be deployed among the PN's large ships which include the two Gregorio Del Pilar-class frigates and incoming two strategic sealift vessels, of which one is expected to be delivered this month, and the BRP Gregorio Velasquez.
Lincuna said the acquisition of the latter ship also aims to address the issues in terms of marine scientific researches/surveys and to gather marine scientific data beneficial to naval operations.
"Also, said vessel will enhance capacity and build capability to support the environmental protection efforts and exploration of the country for economic purpose," he added.
The ship is the country's first oceanographic research vessel.
The BRP Gregorio Velasquez is being manned by a crew of 50 Filipino officers and enlisted personnel who have undergone familiarization and orientation training on various systems of the ship since last March.
"Said vessel is one of the two ships pledged by the President of the United States of America, Barack H. Obama, to be donated to the Philippines during his visit as part of the APEC Leaders Summit last November 2015," Lincuna stressed.
Per policy, auxiliary research vessels are to be named after national scientists, hence her namesake, Dr. Gregorio Velasquez, a pioneer in Philippine physiology.
Dr. Velasquez was elected as academician in 1978 and conferred the honor as National Scientist in 1982.
He was conferred with a Distinguished Science Medal and Diploma of Honor from the Republic of the Philippines (1956), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1956-57), Man of Science, Division of Biological Sciences (1969), World's Who's Who in Sciences (1970) and the Republic of the Philippines Cultural Heritage award (1972).