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San Francisco: The Philippine Navy welcomed its latest frigate, the BRP Andres Bonifacio, during a transfer ceremony held at the US Coast Guard Headquarters in Alameda, California last July 21.

The BRP Andres Bonifacio, a Gregorio Del Pilar class frigate, was formerly the US Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, and was transferred to the Philippine Navy under the Excess Defense Articles program.  Rear Admiral Joseph M. Vojvodich, the Assistant Commandant for Acquisition and Chief Acquisition Officer of the US Coast Guard and Rear Admiral Bayani Gaerlan, Commander Philippine Fleet, signed the documents that formalized the transfer of the ship.

After being christened the BRP Andres Bonifacio, the ship was commissioned into the Philippine Navy. Capt. Brendo J. Casaclang subsequently assumed his command of the frigate and the Philippine Navy crew assumed their duties on the ship. Mrs. Lucille Tamayo-Gaerlan, wife of Rear Admiral Gaerlan and the sponsor of the commissioning, led the traditional smashing of wine against the ship’s hull.

In his remarks, Rear Admiral Vojvodich said the Boutwell would “continue to execute vital maritime missions for the Republic of the Philippines; an important ally, as a trading partner, and a compatriot in the struggle to preserve freedom of the seas, protect life at sea, and combat global terror.”

“As maritime nations, the Philippines and the United States are united by the common goals for safety, security and maritime governance. The partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy and Philippine Navy is emblematic of the strong bond between the two countries,” he added.

Rear Admiral Gaerlan, in his remarks, said the BRP Andres Bonifacio and other assets shall continue to strengthen and boost the Philippine Navy’s posture and credibility alongside with addressing the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ core security concerns such territorial integrity, maritime security, natural and man-made disasters and even internal security.

“The Andres Bonifacio’s capabilities would also be significant in responding to various non-traditional maritime threats such as maritime terrorism smuggling, illegal fishing, human and drug trafficking,” he said.

The Boutwell is the third high-endurance Coast Guard cutter that was transferred to the Philippine government through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) Program. The two other decommissioned cutters were the USCGC Hamilton, now the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, and the USCGC Dallas, now the BRP Ramon Alcaraz. END.

US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Joseph M. Vojvodich and Philippine Navy Rear Admiral Bayani Gaerlan sign the document officially transferring the USCG Boutwell to the Philippine Navy

Rear Admiral Bayani Gaerlan, Deputy Consul General Jaime Ascalon and the newly commissioned BRP Andres Bonifacio (photo by Gemma Nemenzo)