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The Philippine Navy has formally commissioned into service the 46-year-old US Navy ship to be used for hydrographic surveys and marine scientific research and exploration.
The BRP Gregorio Velasquez was formally turned over by the US Navy to the Philippine Navy last Tuesday in christening and commissioning ceremonies held in San Diego, California. The vessel is expected to arrive in the country in June.
She was formerly the R/V Melville (T-AGOR-14) which was operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She was pledged to the Philippines last year.
The 279-feet-long research vessel appeared in the 1976 movie “King Kong” because of its hypoid propulsion drive at that time, which allowed it to move sideways.
As a policy, the Navy names its auxiliary research vessels after national scientists. Dr. Gregorio Velasquez, after whom the ship was named, was a pioneer in Philippine physiology and was named a National Scientist in 1982.
Navy spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said the ship was due to arrive in the Philippines by the third week of June after setting sail from California on Friday.
The Navy official said the research vessel would be used for hydrographic surveys and marine scientific research and exploration.
“Also, it will enhance our capacity and build our capability to support the environmental protection efforts and exploration of the country for economic purposes,” he said.
Platform for collaboration
“It will also become a platform for interagency collaboration for partners in the academe and thus improve awareness of our subsurface environment,” Lincuna stressed.
In November last year, US President Barack Obama pledged to donate the R/V Melville and the US Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell (WHEC-719) to the Philippine Navy as excess defense articles.
Commodore Narciso Vingson, deputy commander of the Philippine Fleet and defense undersecretary Jesus Millan, a former Navy flag officer in command, received the vessel.