MANILA – The BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), the Philippines' second guided-missile frigate, has arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam in Hawaii on June 25 (local time), ahead of this year's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise slated for June 29 to Aug. 4.
"While entering Pearl Harbor, the Naval Task Group 80.5 contingent and ship's crew manned the rail and rendered a salute to USS Missouri and USS Arizona in honor of World War II fallen heroes," Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson Commander Benjo Negranza said in a statement Monday.
He added that Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam commander Capt. Mark Sohaney welcomed the Philippine contingent to RIMPAC.
"He was accompanied by other RIMPAC coordinators from the Royal Australian Navy and the US Navy," Negranza said.
Capt. Aldrin Doctor, Philippine Navy’s liaison officer to Hawaii, also welcomed the contingent.
"Together with other visitors, they were able to have a ship's tour of BRP Antonio Luna, one of the country’s modern and missile-equipped warships," Negranza said.
Capt. Charles Merric Villanueva, BRP Antonio Luna, commanding officer and Naval Task Group (NTG) 80.5 head, expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome given by Sohaney and Doctor.
The ship and NTG 80.5 left Naval Operating Base Subic last June 8 and arrived in Guam last June 12.
The ship left the island on June 16 for Hawaii.
RIMPAC, considered the world's largest maritime exercise, is held biennially to promote regional stability in the Pacific Region.
Around 25,000 personnel from 26 participating nations are set to join the 28th iteration of RIMPAC which was first conducted in 1971.
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.
The PN's participation in RIMPAC 2022, themed “Capable, Adaptive, Partners,” will be the third after its maiden participation in 2018 and its sophomore run in 2020.
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).
In 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 was spent on weapon systems and munitions. (PNA)