Lorenzana says new Coast Guard vessel to shuttle Filipinos from Iran or Iraq to Qatar
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) will be used to shuttle Filipinos from Iran or Iraq to Qatar.
"We will hold them (the crew of BRP Gabriela Silang) there for a while. We will use it as a shuttle, from Iran or Iraq to Qatar, and vice versa," Lorenzana said Wednesday.
"We will use it to gather our people there (Qatar) and then from there we can maybe charter a plane or charter our ships to bring them home," he added.
The PCG said Wednesday BRP Gabriela Silang, the 83.6-meter Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) with 35 crew members, is docked at Malta Freeport.
BRP Gabriela Silang, the Coast Guard's first OPV, was commissioned in France last year.
The vessel was scheduled to arrive in the country on February 10, 2020 after it left Saint-Nazaire, France for its maiden voyage on December 30 2019.
But the Coast Guard was directed to assist the repatriation of Filipinos in the Middle East.
Capt. Arman Balilo, PCG spokesman, said the OPV can ferry approximately 500 people at one time and is more than capable to perform beyond its contractual specification of 20 knots of speed.
"It has a range of 8000 nautical miles at 15 knots and an endurance of up to five weeks of operation," he said. Robina Asido/DMS