DOTC orders 10 Japan-made sea vessels
The Department of Transportation and Communications is moving to bolster the Philippine Coast Guard’s capabilities in policing local waters as it placed an order for 10 new Japanese-manufactured multi-role response vessels worth P8.8 billion, a department statement showed.
The DOTC said the order, composed of 10 40-meter-long vessels to be built by Japan Marine United Corp., will be delivered on a staggered basis starting the third quarter of 2016 through the third quarter of 2018.
The DOTC said these would improve the Philippine Coast Guard’s “ability to protect our seas.”
Most of the budget for the order, dubbed the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project, will be funded with a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency worth P7.37 billion, the DOTC said.
Japan Marine United’s winning bid is in the amount of 12.79 billion Japanese Yen, and includes the supply of standard spare parts and tools, crew training, ocean transportation, and marine insurance, the DOTC said. The vessels will have a standard cruising speed of 16 knots, and a range of 1,500 nautical miles.
The department said the new vessels would be deployed across the country, particularly Manila, La Union and Puerto Princesa.
The announcement comes days after reports surfaced that China was ramping up the construction of an airstrip on artificial islands built on disputed waters in the South China Sea, also known as the West Philippine Sea.
Based on maps it published in the 1940s, China is claiming most of the South China Sea, which are said to contain rich gas and oil reserves.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya downplayed the order for more ships as any kind of response to developments in the South China Sea.
“That has long been in the works. That is more to address search and rescue capabilities, maritime domain awareness, disaster response, environmental protection, maritime law enforcement and security,” Abaya said in a text message on Sunday.
In the DOTC’s statement, Abaya said the project “is part of the government’s program to equip our forces with necessary assets to protect the national marine interest.”
Under the project terms, the new vessels will be used for the following roles:
Primary rescue vessels within the PCG Districts’ areas of responsibility (AOR) when the extent of the disaster is beyond the capability of floating assets deployed within the area
Assistance in the control of oil pollution and protection of the marine environment
Enforcement of applicable maritime laws within the designated AOR, particularly relating to illegal fishing and sea patrol
Service as platform for rapid response during relief operations in the area Transport of personnel and logistical support.
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