Two of the Philippine Navy (PN)'s most capable ships, the landing dock BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and the Del Pilar-class offshore patrol vessel, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), on Tuesday formally started their mission to bring home overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the tensions-hit Middle East.
PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad said each ship has 130 officers and enlisted personnel.
Meanwhile, another 100 personnel consisting of medical, repair and "SEAL" components, will also board the ships and serve as the task force contingent, he added.
The ships and personnel aboard will be sailing from Pier 13, Manila South Harbor. Empedrad said the voyage to the Middle East will last around 16 to 22 days and will be dependent on the ships' speed and the current.
The PN chief added that the vessels will be docking at a safe port in the region. Empedrad also instructed the PN contingent to be "alert" and "safe" and that the "safety of the crew and the ship(s) is always paramount at all times."
Also, the PN chief said that they are making the necessary coordination for refueling, reprovisioning and docking during the course of the mission.
The Navy contingent is expected to reach Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 25 days, with a layover in Sri Lanka for refueling and replenishment.
The deployment of the naval task force is in support to the AFP Joint Task Force Pagpauli mission in the Middle East and in line with the interagency undertaking Oplan Pagbabalik which primary objective is to save lives and ensure the safety of OFWs in Iran, Iraq and other areas in the Middle East through repatriation.
The BRP Davao del Sur and BRP Ramon Alcaraz will serve as sea-based platforms that can provide decent accommodation and necessities for OFWs affected by tensions in the Middle East.
Source: Philippines News Agency