THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) successfully conducted a two-day joint search and rescue (SAR) exercise over the weekend off Mariveles, Bataan.

The PCG said there were also a series of sea-phase demonstrations to conclude the port visit of USCG Cutter (USCGC) Midgett, which arrived in Manila on August 30. USCG Cutter Midgett is the fourth USCG vessel that visited the Philippines, following USCGC Waesche in 2012, USCGC Bertholf in 2019 and USCGC Munro in 2021.

Photo from Philippine Coast Guard FB page
Photo from Philippine Coast Guard FB page

The two-day at-sea drills involved communication exercises, maneuvering drills, photo exercises, decoding messages through flag hoisting, flashing exercises, publication exercises, small boat operations, boarding operations, SAR exercises and medical assistance.

During the second day of the joint exercise, the PCG's 83-meter offshore patrol vessel, BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301), responded to a distress call from a simulated cargo vessel, BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702).

Meanwhile, USCGC Midgett, which was transiting in the vicinity, was requested to render assistance.

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Moreover, BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) deployed its rigid-hulled inflatable boat to rescue the remaining survivors out of the water and turn them over for medical assessment.

Participating PCG vessels also performed their regular anti-piracy exercise.

Two teams of the PCG's Law Enforcement Afloat Detachment (LEAD) did evidence preservation, investigation and case build-up to establish the offenders' orderly prosecution and conviction.

PCG Commandant Admiral Artemio Abu said piracy is a high sea and universal crime where cooperation among Coast Guard counterparts is crucial to achieving success.

With this in mind, Abu said members of the PCG LEAD teams trained with the help of the USCG, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and the Japan Coast Guard to ensure the proper execution of visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) during anti-piracy operations.