Philippines

Milestone: PH Navy ship docks on Pag-asa Island for 1st time

MANILA, Philippines—A Philippine Navy ship berthed on Pag-asa Island (Thitu) in the West Philippine Sea for the first time since the Philippines occupied the island to assert sovereignty over it.

BRP Ivatan (LC-298) docked at the port on the island, which is in the final stages of construction, last May 13, said Lt. Maivi Neri, acting public affairs officer of Naval Forces West.

This makes it “the first ever PN vessel that berthed thereat.” She couldn’t say, however, when the beaching ramp would be finished.

BRP Ivatan was on Pag-asa Island for a resupply and troop rotation mission at the Philippine-occupied detachments in the West Philippine Sea.

The ship returned to Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on Sunday, May 17, after weeks of sailing in the West Philippine Sea, part of the Philippine- claimed waters in the disputed South China Sea.

For many years, those who needed to go to Pag-asa by ship had to ride a small boat first to get to the island because of the absence of a harbor.

Large vessels have to anchor as far as 7 kilometers away from the shore because of the absence of a dock. Smaller boats are used to unload people and goods on the island.

Pag-asa is inhabited by about a hundred Filipino civilians and hosts a small military garrison.

In 2017, the Philippine government announced plans for the construction of a beaching ramp or a port on Pag-asa Island to enable ships to deliver construction materials for the building and repair of facilities.

Analysts believe that the repair and construction work on the island is the reason Chinese militia boats have maintained constant presence nearby since 2018.

Edited by TSB

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