MANILA – The Naval Task Force (NTF) 82, which consists of landing dock BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and offshore patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), departed from Cochin, India on Thursday after completing its mission to fetch a donation of 200,000 pieces of face masks.
In a statement on Friday, Navy public affairs office chief, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, said aside from the face masks, the ships are also transporting 18 Filipino tourists stranded in India following the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.
The NTF-82 is expected to arrive in the Philippines by the last week of May.
“Amid the coronavirus scare, the PN medical team, equipped with proper PPE (personal protective equipment), carefully executed the onboarding process of these repatriates, which began with the disinfection of their belongings, thermal scanning, and taking of vital signs. They were pre-determined to be coronavirus negative but still contained in a separate portion of LD-602 under constant monitoring of medical personnel,” Roxas said.
She said the repatriation of the 18 Filipino tourists was coordinated with the defense and armed forces attaché and representatives of the Philippine Embassy in India.
The two ships sailed from Sultan Qaboos, Oman last April 21 and arrived in India on April 29.
They were deployed to Oman last February as a contingency measure should a large evacuation of overseas Filipino workers be needed following tensions between the United and Iran.
The face masks, which were loaded aboard BRP Davao Del Sur, were donated by Paul Dantes of LegalZoc Co., a Filipino donor who sources masks in India.
Roxas earlier said the donation was coordinated with the Office of Civil Defense.
Fire hits BRP Ramon Alcaraz
Meanwhile, the Navy also confirmed that a fire incident transpired onboard BRP Ramon Alcaraz on Thursday night, a few hours after it departed Port of Cochin, India for Manila in convoy with BRP Davao Del Sur.
In a separate statement, Roxas said initial investigation revealed that the fire started at the ship’s main engine room.
“The ship’s rapid response team was able to put out the fire in 10 minutes. The incident incurred two personnel casualties and minor equipment damages,” she said.
Both sailors sustained second-degree burns and will be airlifted to a naval hospital in Cochin, India for extensive medical attention.
She added that onboard engineers are now assessing the damage to the ship’s main propulsion system to determine whether they can proceed with their voyage or return to India to conduct necessary repairs. (IA/PNA)