(Photo courtesy of Philippine Fleet)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN), through the Philippine Fleet, is now assembling a "19-ship humanitarian aid-focused flotilla" that will be deployed in areas severely devastated by Typhoon Odette.

"This relief flotilla consists of seven sealift vessels for the transport of relief goods and locally stranded individuals, two patrol ships for command and control, eight other watercraft as general support vessels. Meanwhile, the Presidential Yacht, BRP Ang Pangulo (AC-S25) has been repurposed as a hospital ship," the Philippine Fleet said in a Facebook post Sunday night.

It added that BRP Tarlac (LD-601), BRP Bacolod City (LS-550), BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), BRP Iwak (LC-289), BRP Agta (LC-290) and BRP Ivatan LC-298) are to be deployed to augment ongoing humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts (HADR) in Cebu, Palawan, and Northern Mindanao specially Surigao, Dinagat and Siargao Islands.

"Already in Cebu are BRP Tausug (LC-295), BRP Enrique Jurado (PC-371), BRP Abraham Campo (PC-396), and ACS-700," it said.

On the other hand, BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702), BRP Hilario Ruiz (PC-378) and BRP Rafael Pargas (PC-379) are already in Northern Mindanao and have completed several relief sorties already.

"ACS-25 will join these ships in the Siargao/Dinagat area. While prepositioned in Palawan already are BRP Mangyan (AC-71), BRP Jose Andrad (PC-370), BRP Carlos Albert (PC-375), and BRP DIoscoro Papa (PC-381)," the post read.

Aside from the ships, the PN also placed four naval aircraft on alert status to provide aerial survey, immediate rescue, and limited transport capabilities of the flotilla.

The naval air component consists of two BN Islander aircraft (NV-312 and NV-314), one Beechcraft King Air (C-90) aircraft (NV-394), and one ship-based AgustaWestland (AW-109) helicopter (NH-430).

These assets are provided by the Cavite City-based Philippine Fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Alberto B. Carlos.

"Aid and other carepacks are presently being loaded aboard AC-S25, LC-289, and LC-290. AC-S25 is scheduled to depart tonight, 19 December 2021, while LC-289 and LC-290 will depart tomorrow (Monday) morning," it said.

PN relief operations in Northern Mindanao, Cebu, and Palawan shall be directed by the current naval operating forces commanders in the area -- Commodore Carlos Sabarre in Naval Forces Eastern Mindanao (Northern Mindanao), Captain Raul Regis PN in Naval Forces Central (Cebu), and Commodore Donn Miraflor in Naval Forces West (Palawan).

BRP Ang Pangulo repurposed as hospital

Meanwhile, the PN has repurposed the Presidential ship, BRP Ang Pangulo (ACS25), into a 10-bed floating hospital and will be utilized by those needing medical attention in typhoon-hit areas in Mindanao.

The ship departed from Pier 13 of Manila South Harbor on Sunday night, taking with it thousands of relief goods earlier hauled by fleet-marine personnel assigned in different PN vessels.

The relief items from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) include 1,000 boxes of family food packs, 300 rolls of laminated sacks, and 1,212 hygiene kits.

BRP Iwak delivers relief goods to Surigao City's typhoon-ravaged areas

The BRP Iwak (LC289) departed Cavite City at 4 a.m. Monday for a humanitarian assistance and disaster response mission to Surigao Port, Surigao City.

Onboard the ship are the relief goods and other cargoes bound for Surigao City, which include 7.8 tons of bottled water from the Office of the Vice President, 142 5-gallon water containers and 4 boxes of bottled water from Naval Task Group National Capital Region, 50 sacks of rice from Jam Pinaroc, 130 pieces of bottled water from Maynilad, and other consolidated assorted relief goods from the different units of the Philippine Fleet and other non-government and private stakeholders.

These well-meaning stakeholders include the Christian Bible Baptist Church, Bliss Restaurant and Pawssion Project Spar.

The cargoes were loaded on Sunday at Sangley Point, Cavite City. (PNA)