By Priam Nepomuceno

BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) (Screengrab from BRP Jose Rizal FF-150 Facebook page)

MANILA – The Philippine Navy’s (PN) first two guided-missile frigates, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), have conducted their first-ever replenishment-at-sea (RAS) exercise between Filipino warships on March 23-25.

“(The) RAS is a complex and challenging evolution at sea that requires careful planning, precise execution, and effective communication between the vessels involved. The training was facilitated by FF-150 to her fellow frigate led by no less than the flagship’s skipper who ensured that the inspection of RAS equipment, lectures, and training, both in port and at sea, were done correctly and were based on proper and tested procedures,” a post in the BRP Jose Rizal’s Facebook page said over the weekend.

The RAS exercise took place in the waters west of Zambales and was divided into harbor and at-sea phases, it said.

The harbor phase, conducted on March 13-17, covered subject matter expert exchange lectures and a series of actual drills while the at-sea phase, conducted on March 23- 25, held 12 RAS approaches, wherein commanding, executive, and operations officers of the two ships had the chance to take the con.

“The activity culminated with the conduct of actual RAS light line transfer, with BRP Jose Rizal acting as the delivery ship while BRP Antonio Luna performed as the receiving ship,” the post said.

“Besides the success of the light load transfer, the nearest displacement for both ships was at 37 yards. The outstanding performance during the said RAS evolution was a manifestation of the level of preparedness, attention to detail, and teamwork demonstrated by both JRCF (Jose Rizal Class Frigates).”

It noted that the RAS capability of the BRP Jose Rizal was jumpstarted by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Sea Training Group.

The ship had its first RAS-liquid with HMAS Stalwart (A-304) at Naval Forces Central area of responsibility during the “SamaSama/Lumbas” exercises on Oct. 16, 2022.

“It was made possible due to the diligence of Lt. Simon Brown (of the RAN) and company. After the said exercise, the FF-150 Training Team endeavored to impart said acquired knowledge and skills to all PN vessels starting with her sister ship BRP Antonio Luna,” the post read.

It added that the successful conduct of RAS light line transfer between the two capital ships of the PN is another significant milestone in the naval service’s history aside from demonstrating its “eagerness and commitment” to continuously grow and strengthen its capabilities.

New PH flag raised on Mavulis Island

As this developed, the crew of BRP Antonio Luna on April 1 raised a new Philippine flag atop the highest peak of Mavulis Island, Batanes, the country’s northernmost island and first line of defense.

The flag raising was part of the PN’s “Operation Bantay-Layag,” which began on March 31 and will run for a month.

The event was the second ceremony to be held on the island since the pandemic broke out in 2020 with the first flag raising being held in April 2021.

The hoisted flag also symbolizes and asserts sovereignty over the island.

“Among others, FF-151 also assisted the troops in Mavulis in troubleshooting the island’s generator, as well as re-provisioned the troops with food and drinking water,” BRP Antonio Luna acting commanding officer, Commander Jim Aris Alagao, said. (PNA)