Presidential yacht BRP Ang Pangulo (Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN) announced that it had come up with a plan to convert BRP Ang Pangulo (ACS-25), presidential yacht, into a floating facility for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients.

This came following President Rodrigo R. Duterte's order for the PN to convert the vessel into a medical ship following the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

"Prompted by President and Commander-in-Chief Rodrigo Duterte's desire to utilize the ship, BRP Ang Pangulo (ACS-25), as a floating Covid-19 quarantine facility, the PN devised a feasible plan of converting the Presidential Yacht into a floating quarantine facility dedicated for coronavirus patients," Navy public affairs office chief, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, said in a statement late Saturday.

The ship is currently deployed in Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao to augment the Davao operational base of the Presidential Security Group.

"Initially, plans are made to ensure that the ship is prepared to accommodate persons that are now under monitoring and investigation (PUM/PUI) due to Covid-19," Roxas said.

She added that a total of 28 patients can be accommodated aboard the ship with five medical personnel.

"There are three exclusive compartments that will be prepared for the patients with a temporary division in place. A three-meter distance will be strictly observed between patients. Different entry points will be made for the patients and medical staff," Roxas said.

She added that the ship’s crew will remain aboard even if it is used as a quarantine station as entry points to the crew's billeting area and other compartments from the area of the patients will be sealed off.

"The ACS-25 commanding officer, Commander Marissa Arlene Andres-Martinez is already coordinating with the local AFP (Armed Forces Philippines) units and government hospitals in Davao to support the medical equipment and other essential requirements needed for this floating quarantine facility," Roxas said.

She added the PN is fully committed to support the Bayanihan to Heal as One (Republic Act 11469) initiative by devoting its personnel and resources as it explores all possible means to contain and defeat the spread of the coronavirus disease in the country.

BRP Ang Pangulo was acquired by the Philippine government in 1959. The yacht was first used by President Carlos P. Garcia.

It was built in Japan as part of that country’s war reparations to the Philippines. (PNA)