AFP wants faster boats during resupply missions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 7) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is considering using faster boats for resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre, the Philippine outpost on Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

When asked by lawmakers whether the country had any vessels that could travel at faster speeds, AFP Western Command Chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos told the Special Committee on the WPS of the House of Representatives on Tuesday that boats for resupply missions should ideally have a cruising speed of 15 knots.

Philippine Coast Guard Spokesperson on the WPS Commodore Jay Tarriela said the PCG’s vessels, which escort the boats used for resupply missions, can reach a cruising speed of up to 25 knots.

"The ideal speed for us is 15 so we’re looking for platforms that can go 15 knots at least with a drop that can enter the shore," he said.

One knot is equivalent to 1.852 kilometers per hour.

However, he said the speed of the PCG’s vessels must be adjusted to that of the indigenous boat chartered to carry supplies.

"On the part of the Philippine Coast Guard, our vessels can run as fast as 22-25 knots. However since our primary mission is to provide security escort to the chartered boat, we have to adjust our slow speed so that we can be able to pace with the chartered boat," Tarriela said.

During the hearing, officials of the AFP and PCG declined to disclose details of their plans to address China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea.

Last month, Chinese vessels collided with the Unaiza May 2, one of the boats contracted for the resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre.

As of October 31, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Marcos administration has lodged 124 diplomatic protests against China over its actions in the West Philippine Sea.