BRP Jose Rizal (Philippine Navy photo)
MANILA – All 125 personnel aboard missile-frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), which participated in this year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises, have tested negative for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Their swab (RT-PCR) results were released over the weekend. All of them tested negative for Covid-19,” Philippine Navy public affairs office chief Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas said during an interview with Philippine News Agency (PNA) Monday.
Swab samples from the contingent were taken on Sept. 24 or a full day after they dropped anchor off Subic Bay, Zambales.
The BRP Jose Rizal was not allowed to dock at the Alava Wharf until the results of the swab tests were out, adding that the ship only docked at the pier Sunday.
“The contingent is now just observing mandatory quarantine as part of the health and safety protocols (for Covid-19),” Roxas said.
“They are now on standby for the arrival ceremony which is (tentatively) scheduled for Oct. 2 (in South Harbor, Manila),” she added.
Before its arrival in Subic Bay on Sept. 23, the ship and the naval personnel conducted “passing exercise” (PASSEX) off the islands of Northern Luzon last September 22.
“Its passage through Naval Forces Northern Luzon’s area of responsibility is deemed to be monumental and symbolic as it was able to show the Philippine flag and assert naval presence particularly in the strategic waters off Batag Island, Benham Rise and Fuga Island,” Roxas said.
When conducting the exercise off Fuga Island, BRP Jose Rizal was met by World War II-era patrol corvette BRP Quezon. The PASSEX was complemented by a flight of two Philippine Air Force FA-50 jet aircraft that made a low pass over BRP Jose Rizal at an altitude of 300 feet.
BRP Jose Rizal left Guam last Sept. 18 after a two-day refueling and provisioning stop, arriving on the island on Sept. 16.
The ship left Pearl Harbor, Hawaii last Sept. 4 after its successful participation in the biennial RIMPAC naval exercises last August.
BRP Jose Rizal is the first Navy vessel capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare operations. (PNA)