A new Philippines warship is really just an old US Coast Guard cutter, but it's still a major asset to the country as it pads its fleet amid rumors of a dispute with China.
The ship was renamed Philippine navy frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz. The decommissioned US cutter will only become the country's second largest ship in their small navy force, weighing in at 3,250 tons.
The US. is also planning to give the Philippines part of a former naval base, which they will turn into a military hub. It is a strategic location for the country, and their government has already approved a plan to move military assets further into the South China Sea.
The reason for the new Philippines warship is simple: The country wants to compete against Chinese territorial claims over offshore seas which may contain oil.
Though the Philippines navy is no match for China, both Philippine and US officials have forged a pact to increase the size of the country's military in order to make it more competitive. As it stands the Philippines is regarded as having one of the region's weakest military presences. Still, the U.S. is obligated to aid the Philippines in the event of an external attack due to a defense treaty between the two countries.
Philippine navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano said that the new warship will be put to use right away, and that the military hopes to add a third decommissioned US Coast Guard ship to its fleet.
"It will further intensify our patrolling of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone and our capability to quell any threat and bad elements, respond to search and rescue operations and take care of our marine resources," Aquino told a crowd.
While China has also deployed its own ships in offshore seas, the country's president said that Beijing is simply trying to guard its claims. Additionally, they expressed a desire to open disputed areas to joint economic development with other countries in the region.
The Philippines likes that idea, but says it would have to conform to Philippine law, which might sour the deal.
Do you think the new Philippines warship will help the country become competitive in the region?