Members of Philippine Coast Guard District Northern Mindanao and PCG Search and Rescue vessel BRP Romblon participated in the MIO training with Sailors from the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon in Macajalar Bay, just off the coast of Cagayan de Oro June 23-24.
“The training was very impressive and useful,” said Ensign Johnny Belarmino, engineering officer and boarding team leader of Romblon. “There’s a lot of new techniques and additional knowledge I can impart to my men.”
The training consisted of interdiction (day and night) of a training vessel. The PCG personnel learned boarding techniques,
“The PCG sailors have been extremely enthusiastic to learn new techniques and to discuss what they do and to show us their equipment and procedures. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to see what they can do,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Jennings, fire controlman, a VBSS team member aboard Chung-Hoon.
The goal of the training was to increase the capability of the PCG to help keep coastal areas safe and to prevent terrorist and lawless groups from trafficking people, supplies and weapons freely along coastal regions and the sea. This is a shift from the PCG’s traditional role of search and rescue, to maritime security and law enforcement.
“It’s a big challenge for us,” said Ensign Mary Lou Caoyonan, a PCG officer, “but with the unity and cooperation of different agencies, not just the Coast Guard, other government agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we can maintain the security of our maritime waters.”
The Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands, creating more than 22,000 miles of coastline for the PCG and Philippine Navy to patrol.
“We are happy to support the Philippine Coast Guard’s evolution and efforts to expand its maritime law enforcement role into a multi-mission service,” said Cmdr. Stephen Erb, commanding officer of Chung-Hoon.
U.S. Army Special Forces assigned to the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines facilitated the training between the PCG and U.S. Navy. This level of coordination shows the combined nature of the Philippine and U.S. interaction in the southern Philippines.