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By Raydes B. Barcia

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Legazpi City—In an effort to intensify maritime interoperability in the world’s most disaster prone countries, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the United States Coast Guard will conduct a joint weeklong search and rescue drill in the country.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Loss Carlson joined with Coast Guard Fleet Commander, CG Rear Admiral Charlie Rances as they welcomed the USCG officers and crew participating in the PCG – USCG joint search and rescue exercise this week.

The Cutter (USCGC) Midgett (WMSL-757) seacraft arrived in the waters off Manila Bay today, 30 August 2022 in preparation for the joint maritime exercises to hone disaster preparedness, security and interoperability.

The PCG and USCG personnel will simulate communication exercises, maneuvering, technical demonstrations, flight operations, small boat operations, medical assistance, and resolution within the weeklong maritime drill.

Representing the PCG during the joint SAR exercise will be the 83-meter offshore patrol vessel, BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), BRP Malabrigo (MRRV-4402), BRP Boracay (FPB-2401), and a Coast Guard Aviation Force (CGAF) helicopter.

Rear Admiral Rances said the initiative aimed to address maritime safety challenges by assessing the PCG and USCG’s capability for information exchange and interoperability at sea.

“As we want to maximize this opportunity for growth and development of our human resource, we make sure to capitalize on the subject matter exchange with a focus on search and rescue operations,” Rances said.

“Due to climate change and our archipelagic nature, our country is prone to maritime accidents. Thus, we are striding to minimize loss of lives at sea and prevent sea mishaps,” he said.

While US Amb. Carlson expressed high hopes that the joint SAR exercise will intensify cooperation between the Philippines and the United States, specifically in upholding maritime safety and maritime law enforcement.

“As allies, strengthening our ability to work together in critical areas, such as search and rescue and maritime law enforcement, contributes to advancing our shared goals of a more connected, open, and secure Indo-Pacific,” she said.

“It will also enable us to advance our training in information exchange with the PCG by supporting consultations and demonstrations on vital capabilities, such as shipboard helicopter operations, reviewing its sea procedures, engineering evolutions, and command and control processes. These activities will provide immediate benefits for all participants and help shape the evolution of our cooperative efforts,” the U.S. Ambassador added.

Before the PCG – USCG joint SAR exercise, the men and women of two Coast Guards will participate in the Brigada Eskwela 2022 program at Jose Rizal Elementary School in Tayuman, Tondo, Manila.

This is to assist in providing for the needs of the students and teachers who commenced school year 2022-2023 last week. (Raydes B. Barcia)

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