U.S. Navy gives Philippines research vessel

SAN DIEGO – After 46 years of service to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, the R/V Melville, one of the most well-traveled and well known oceanographic research vessels in the world, will now serve the Philippines.

Facilitated by the U.S. Navy, the transfer of the vessel to the Philippine Navy was celebrated in a commissioning and baptism ceremony.

“The transfer of the vessel Melville to the U.S. I think signifies not only the shared commitment of the Philippines furthering scientific research, but also our shared values of enhancing security of our common people,” Philippine Consul General to Los Angeles Leo Herrera Lim said.

Appearing in the 1976 King Kong movie, the vessel has led numerous ocean research studies throughout the world, and was even given to the Philippines by the U.S. Military as an excess defense article.

Ready to do research and exploration, it may be used for gathering information that may someday aid in on-going territorial disputes, specifically in the South China Sea.

“We need to study the underwater domain we have, mapping our territorial issues as well as assisting other governments,” Department of National Defense Undersecretary Jesus Milan said.

While it is not meant for combat, the vessel, which has been renamed to BRP Gregorio Velasquez after the Filipino scientist, will be used by both the military and the private sector.

“It will serve as a platform for scientific research, making those functions as well as humanitarian assistance and rescue efforts,” Milan said. “These are the capabilities this vessel will provide.”

Last November, the White House announced that the 279-foot research vessel, along with the USCGC Boutwell, were part of the U.S. Military’s effort to help the Philippines maintain its maritime presence and patrols in its own waters.

For Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander of the Navy’s Third Fleet, transferring the vessel reminded her of multiple tours of duty in the Philippines.

“I was probably in Manila over a dozen times, then Cebu, Palawan and Subic. Then I had command of the USS Bataan, so I have a lot of connections to the Philippines,” Tyson said. “Because of the connections I’ve had to the Philippine Navy, it’s really an honor for me to be here today.”

USCGC Boutwell, which is docked a few yards away, will also be transferred to the Philippines soon.Boutwell

Docked at the San Diego Naval Base, the vessel is scheduled to embark for the Philippines on Thursday and is expected to arrive at the Philippine Navy home port in Subic by late June ready for duty.

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  • Amboy
    29 April 2016 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    The Phil Navy can use it in giving protection to our local fisherman in Scarborough Shoal… Thanks uncle Sam for the vessel and for the joint US/phil patrol group in the South China Sea…