MANILA – The strategic sealift vessel, BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), has continued its voyage to the Philippines Saturday afternoon alone after its companion ship, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), was forced back to the Port of Cochin, India due to fire that broke out from its main engine room on May 7, the Philippine Navy (PN) said on Sunday.
“BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) continued its voyage back to the Philippines around 2 p.m. of May 9 with (18) Filipino repatriates and 200,000 pieces of donated face masks. LD-602 is expected to arrive at Manila South Harbor on May 23,” said Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, Navy public affairs office chief.
She said BRP Ramon Alcaraz was able to return to the Port of Cochin unassisted and under its power Saturday and now undergoing damage assessment and systems evaluation.
Initial reports said the fire was apparently caused by “lube oil leakage”.
“Based on initial assessment, one of its main engines must undergo necessary repair to ensure the sea worthiness of the ship and safety of its crew prior to its return voyage to the country,” Roxas said.
She added that the ship will stay put in the Port of Cochin to fully restore its operational status with the assistance of the United States Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).
“Coordination is being made with NAVSEA and JUSMAG (Joint US Military Advisory Group) Philippines to work out with the repair requirements needed by the ship,” she said.
Roxas said PS-16 was acquired from the US and still under the technical support program with them.
“Repair and restoration period is pegged at 21 days in consideration of the restraint due to (coronavirus disease 2019) Covid-19 but it may be shortened,” Roxas said.
She said that Fireman Second Class Engineman Alvin Aldecoa is recovering from superficial burns aboard BRP Ramon Alcaraz while Fireman Second Class Machinery Repairman Joemari Bag-o, who suffered second degree burns, was airlifted to a burn treatment facility at the Sanjivani Naval Hospital in INS Southern Naval Command for proper monitoring and medical treatment.
“Both sailors are in stable condition. Their families were already notified of their situation. All other personnel onboard PS-16 are safe and secured,” Roxas said.
Roxas said courses of action are now being undertaken to identify the extent of damage and its corresponding cost to repair.
She added that ship’s extended stay at port for the repair also provides ample time for the recovery of injured sailors, and to complete the hauling of the remaining 800,000 donated face masks.
“The Philippine Navy expresses its gratitude to the Indian Navy and its government for providing the support and assistance needed in this incident,” she said.
Roxas said the swift reaction of PN sailors in this emergency situation bespoke professionalism and skills honed through regular training.
“This incident will not hamper us to do our mandated mission. Rest assured that safety is and always will be the number one priority of the Philippine Navy,” she said.
The two ships, which composed PN Naval Task Force 82, sailed from Sultan Qaboos, Oman last April 21 and arrived in India on April 29.
The government deployed the PN ships in Oman in February as a contingency measure should large evacuation of overseas Filipinos workers be needed following tensions between the United States and Iran. (ia/PNA)