PH, Australia navies eye deeper ties to address security concerns

By Priam Nepomuceno

October 11, 2022, 9:35 am

<p>PN acting flag-officer-in-command Rear Admiral Caesar Bernard Valencia (left) and RAN chief-of-staff Commodore Ray Leggatt (right) <em>(Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy)</em></p>

PN acting flag-officer-in-command Rear Admiral Caesar Bernard Valencia (left) and RAN chief-of-staff Commodore Ray Leggatt (right) (Photo courtesy of Philippine Navy)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy (PN) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have expressed their commitment to enhancing their strategic partnership to further address mutual security concerns.

This as RAN chief-of-staff Commodore Ray Leggatt visited PN acting flag-officer-in-command Rear Admiral Caesar Bernard Valencia at Navy headquarters in Naval Station Jose Andrada, Roxas Boulevard, Manila on Monday.

"The two Navy leaders conveyed optimism on the furtherance of PN-RAN strategic partnership in addressing mutual security challenges through training opportunities and other areas of engagements," PN spokesperson Commander Benjo Negranzana said in a statement Tuesday.

During his courtesy call, Leggatt also gave key insights on the importance of the maritime domain to the prosperity of a maritime nation like the Philippines.

The RAN official's visit came a day before the formal kick-off of the PN-hosted Exercise SAMA-SAMA / LUMBAS 2022 where Australia is among the participants.

"Commodore Leggatt also shared important pointers and observations during his stint as the commander of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 as part of the Combined Maritime Force in the Middle East area of operations for the reference of the PN for its future command of CTF 151," Negranza said.

Leggatt's visit highlighted the strong defense cooperation between the Philippines and Australia toward regional peace and stability.

The RAN earlier helped in the training of crew members of the PN's missile frigate, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) in a three-day qualification training for the fuelling at sea (FAS) evolution.

The FAS or the capability to refuel while at sea is considered one of the hallmarks of a modern Navy.

The three-day training took place at Naval Operating Base Subic last Sept. 27 to 29 with the assistance of the RAN Fleet Training Group.

"Three personnel of RAN led by Lt. Commander Nigel Williams conducted (a) series of lectures and actual drills on the first two days. On the third day, the RAN Sea Training team assessed the actual performance of FF-150 personnel with satisfactory results," BRP Jose Rizal said in a Facebook post.

It also said passing the RAN's FAS qualification is another milestone for the personnel of BRP Jose Rizal as they continue to gain more capability for the PN.

The BRP Jose Rizal and its sister ship, the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), are modern warships capable of surface, sub-surface, air, and electronic warfare using state-of-the-art electronic sensors, long-range missiles, acoustic guided torpedoes, and embarked anti-submarine helicopters.

The BRP Jose Rizal was delivered to the Philippines in May 2020 and commissioned in July of the same year while the BRP Antonio Luna was commissioned on March 19, 2021.

The contract for the two ships was placed at PHP16 billion with another PHP2 billion for weapon systems and munitions.

Scout Rangers, Aussie troops hold combat tracking drills

As this developed, Filipino and Australian troops trained side-by-side in combat tracking operations a key part of the more than two-month-long Exercise "Kasangga" at Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan on Monday, the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) said in a statement Tuesday.

The 3rd Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) troops and their Scout Ranger counterparts participated in a series of combat tracking drills at the camp.

The bilateral training is part of Exercise "Kasangga" which aims to enhance Scout Rangers’ competency in urban operations and at the same time further develop the skills of Australian troops in jungle and mountain operations.

Around 400 Scout Rangers trained side-by-side with nearly a hundred Australian troops during the exercise which is set to wrap up later this month after formally opening on August 22. (PNA)