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), joined the country in celebrating its 122nd Independence Day as both ships entered Manila Bay on Friday.

“PS-16 and LD-602 sailed in formation with on-board personnel creating the human formation of figure 122 for a photo exercise captured from the embarked AW-109 naval helicopter, which also conducted flight deck operations,” Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, Navy public affairs office chief, said in a statement.

The two ships are under Joint Task Force “Pagpauli” and were deployed to Oman last February as a contingency measure should a large evacuation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) be needed following tensions between the United States and Iran.

They sailed from Sultan Qaboos, Oman last April 21 and arrived in India on April 29 to fetch a donation of 200,000 pieces of face mask from a Filipino businessman based in the country, as well as 18 Filipino tourists and workers stranded due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The ships sailed from Cochin, India on May 7 but an engine room fire aboard the BRP Ramon Alcaraz and Cyclone Amphan forced the two vessels to suspend their passage home.

They left Cochin on May 27 and arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka on May 29 to pick up 12 stranded Filipino overseas workers and tourists.

The ships left the Port of Colombo midnight of May 31.

“NTF 82 is finally nearing home and expected to be accorded a formal arrival honor at Pier 15 in Manila next week,” Roxas said.

Meanwhile, the 30 Filipino repatriates from India and Sri Lanka had already completed their quarantine period on board the BRP Davao Del Sur, with no one exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19.

Roxas said the repatriates were isolated from the crew and provided by the PN with the necessary interventions, counseling, and physical activities to uplift their morale and well-being during this period.

“The crew will undergo swab testing while the need to have an extended quarantine period is yet to be determined by local health authorities,” she said. (PNA)