The Philippine Navy commissioned two Cyclone-class patrol ships donated by the United States on Monday to enhance its capacity in the face of China’s ongoing “illegal activities” in the South China Sea.
Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci said the vessels, BRP Valentin Diaz and BRP Ladislao Diwa, will be used for coastal patrols, humanitarian support, and disaster relief operations.
The vessels, formerly known as USS Monsoon and USS Chinook, were initially stationed in Bahrain. The U.S. Navy decommissioned the ships on March 28 and transferred them to the Philippines under the Excess Defense Article program.
The two vessels will be integrated into the Philippine Navy’s Alvarez-class patrol ships, which Mr. Adaci said are “essential in maintaining a safe and secure maritime environment” surrounding the country.
The Philippines has intensified its patrols in the South China Sea to counter illegal entry by Chinese vessels into its territorial waters, including resuming joint patrols with the United States and Australia.
Tense Encounter Between Philippine, Chinese Ships
Recently, eight Chinese ships allegedly tried to block two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ships—BRP Cabra and BRP Sindangan—in Ayungin Shoal (also known as the Second Thomas Shoal).
PCG spokesman Commodore Jay Tarriela said the Chinese ships’ actions jeopardized the safety of crew members aboard the PCG vessels and resupply boats. The resupply mission was successful despite the incident, he added.
“The PCG calls upon the [Chinese Coast Guard] and [Chinese Maritime Militia] to immediately cease any illegal activities within the maritime zones of the Philippines,” Mr. Tarriela said in a statement.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said