MANILA – The Naval Task Force (NTF) – 82, which consists of the offshore patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) and landing dock BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), left Port Sultan Qaboos, Muscat in Oman on Tuesday and will make a stop at Port Cochin in India to pick up personnel protective equipment (PPE) before heading home to the Philippines.
“The vessels will make (a) brief stop at Port Cochin, India to pick-up personal protective equipment donated by a foreign private company in coordination with the Office of Civil Defense, the government’s agency that is mandated to consolidate all donations to the national government and the Department of Health in this Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic,” Philippine Navy public affairs office chief, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, said in a press statement late Tuesday.
The ships and their 400-man contingent left Oman after ensuring that no member exhibits Covid-19 symptoms as precautionary measures were earlier beefed up to keep the vessels virus-free.
Roxas said NTF-82 is expected to reach Manila by the third week of May.
The NTF-82 was deployed to the Middle East in February for the possible evacuation of overseas Filipino workers after tensions between the US and Iran erupted early this year.
During the mission, NTF-82 and the contingent led by Marine Col. Noel Beleran made history by becoming the first Filipino naval ships to sail on the Indian Ocean, validating its status as a Navy that is now capable of sustaining operations across oceans; and by making port visits to Sri Lanka and Oman, which reinforced diplomatic ties with these countries.
“Further, the deployment of the contingent fostered national pride for our overseas workers through engagements with Filipino communities there,” Roxas said. (PNA)