The United States is expected to turn over to the Philippines two newly-decommissioned patrol craft under its foreign military sales (FMS) program, ramping up its support to its treaty ally and partner in Southeast Asia.
The Philippine Navy is seen to get hold of the two Cyclone-class “patrol coastal” vessels, USS Monsoon (PC 4) and USS Chinook (PC 9), from the US Navy, following their decommissioning on Tuesday.
The Chinook and Monsoon, the last two of the Cyclone-class ships in the service of the US Navy, were decommissioned by the US Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain after nearly three decades of naval service.
No less than Capt. Anthony Webber, commander of Task Force 55, which oversees the operations of the 5th Fleet’s surface forces, has disclosed the upcoming turnover of the two former warships to the Philippines, as reported by the US Naval Forces Central Command.
“I’m proud of our crews for reaching this milestone and representing our nation and Navy with utmost pride and professionalism. I’m also proud that we are turning over great ships to our Philippine partners,” the Central Command quoted Webber as saying.
The decommissioning of the two former patrol coastal ships was attended by Philippine officials.
In 2011, the Philippines acquired a decommissioned Hamilton-class cutter from the United States Coast Guard and it has since become the Navy’s flagship, operating as BRP Gregorio del Pilar.
The announced delivery of the two patrol craft comes as Manila and Washington are revitalizing their defense and military alliance, which became moribund during the Duterte administration.
Currently, the US and the Philippines are holding the military exercise “Salaknib” in Central Luzon and will be staging the bigger exercise, Balikatan, next month.