BRP GABRIELA SILANG. The BRP Gabriela Silang during the Change of Flag Ceremony for the Philippine Coast Guard vessel in France on Thursday (Dec. 19, 2019). The ceremony officially designated the vessel as under the ownership of the Philippines. The vessel is expected to reach Manila on Feb. 10, 2020. (Photo courtesy of PCG)

MANILA -- The Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) newest and largest offshore patrol vessel (OPV) is now officially under the ownership of the country after it flew the Philippine flag for the first time on Thursday.

In a Facebook post on Friday, the PCG said the 83-meter BRP Gabriela Silang, which was built by French shipbuilder OCEA, had its Change of Flag Ceremony that was led by Philippine Ambassador to France Ma. Theresa Lazaro.

“Ambassador Lazaro represented the DOTr (Department of Transportation) and the PCG in the historic event, which marks the first time the OPV will be flying the national flag, and will now be under the official ownership of the Republic of the Philippines,” the post read.

The OPV is scheduled to depart from France on December 30 with its 35-strong personnel and crew from the PCG and is expected to arrive in Manila on Feb. 10, 2020.

Last month, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade approved the provisional acceptance of the OPV through BRP Gabriela Silang’s incoming commanding officer, PCG Commander Alberto Ferre, in the signing of the vessel’s certificate in France.

The BRP Gabriela Silang was commissioned for the PCG by the DOTr. Its design was based on the OPV-270 Mk. II that was first unveiled in Euronaval 2014.

The ship was also the first OPV acquired by the Philippines and the most modern vessel of the PCG. (PNA)