By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA — The BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702), a research vessel assigned to the Philippine Navy, arrived at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor on Friday after a two-month mission off the seaboards of Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga Del Sur.
The ship, which was designated Naval Task Group (NTG) 80.7 “Survey”, and her crew were welcomed by Fleet-Marine Ready Force head, Commodore Toribio Adaci Jr.
The task group is composed of 100 officers and enlisted personnel headed by Commander Benjo Negranza, skipper of BRP Gregorio Velasquez, Navy spokesperson, Capt. Jonathan Zata, said.
The NTG 80.7 left last March to undertake hydrographic and research in
selected areas in the archipelago to contribute to the continued safe
navigation of naval vessels, as well as bring the Navy closer to
communities in hard-to-reach islands.
“Your arrival from a successful mission underscores your professionalism, dedication, hard work and collective effort. Most importantly, your success bespeaks well of your selfless devotion and unwavering zeal towards the accomplishment of your mission,” Adaci said.
Meanwhile, Negranza said the two-month mission made them better appreciate the important role the Navy plays in protecting and preserving the country’s maritime resources and in keeping in touch with the Philippines’ rich maritime heritage.
The undertaking also highlighted the capacity of the sailor-scientists, who provide the organization competence in the fields of hydrographic research. It further manifests the evolution, development and expansion of the Navy’s capabilities in reaching out even to the archipelago’s remotest island communities.
The BRP Gregorio Velasquez is the sole asset of the Philippine Navy capable of conducting oceanographic and hydrographic survey.
The BRP Gregorio Velasquez (formerly the RV Melville) was one of the two former American ships pledged by then president Barack Obama during his visit to the Philippines during the APEC Leaders’ Summit in November 2015.
The other ship was the USCGC Boutwell, which has been renamed to BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17), and the third Hamilton-class cutter in the service of the Philippine Navy.
The BRP Gregorio Velasquez was commissioned into service in June 2016.(PNA)