BRP Antonio Luna (File photo courtesy of Philippine Navy)

MANILA – The BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), one of the two guided-missile frigates of the Philippine Navy (PN), left its base in Subic Bay, Zambales Wednesday to join this year's edition of the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

RIMPAC, which will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii from June 29 to August 4, is an international maritime exercise led by the United States Navy and is done to promote stability in the Pacific Region.

Navy spokesperson Commander Benjo Negranza, in a media interview, said the ship left Naval Operating Base Subic around 10:30 a.m.

PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Adeluis Bordado and the Naval Task Group (NTG) 80.5 graced the send-off ceremonies for the ship.

He added the ship will make a stopover in Guam for refueling.

"Ang start ng exercise is (June) 29, ang ine-expect namin mga three days before nandun na sya, dadaan pa yan ng Guam, tapos diretso na siya ng Hawaii (The exercise will start on June 29 and we expect the ship will be there three days before that. BRP Antonio Luna will also make a stopover in Guam before proceeding to Hawaii)," Negranza said.

He said the Philippines is participating in the RIMPAC to show its commitment to "regional stability and cooperation and commitment" to allied navies.

Negranza earlier said NTG 80.5 will help develop, maintain, and enhance the Navy’s pursuit of maritime collaboration with its counterparts through the exercise.

"(RIMPAC is) one of the PN’s major International Defense and Security Engagement activities," he added.

The PN's participation in RIMPAC 2022, themed “Capable, Adaptive, Partners,” will be its third in the largest and premier maritime exercise, after its maiden participation in 2018 and its sophomore run in 2020.

This year’s iteration is scheduled to include 26 naval forces all across the world.

In the 2018 RIMPAC, the Navy deployed the offshore patrol vessel, BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17) and the landing dock BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) while on the 2020 iteration of the maritime exercise, the PN sent the country's first missile frigate, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).

Both the BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna are capable of anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare operations.

The contract for the two ships was PHP16 billion and an additional PHP2 billion for weapon systems and munitions. (PNA)