For veterans by veterans
Members of Philippine Coast Guard District Northern Mindanao and PCG Search and Rescue vessel BRP Romblon (SAR-3503) participated in the MIO training with Sailors from the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) 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, proper vessel searches, and questioning and handling of suspects. Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) team members from Chung-Hoon conducted training on hand-to-hand combat, tactical cover and movement, and room clearing with the PCG Special Operations Group.
“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 Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) Robert Jennings, 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 (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 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 (JSOTF-P) 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.
The mission of the Philippine Coast Guard is to promote safety of life and property at sea; safeguard the marine environment and resources; enforce all applicable maritime laws; and undertake other activities in support of the mission of the Department of Transportation and Communications.
Chung-Hoon, home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, departed June 1 on its western Pacific deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.