THE first-ever International Fleet Review scheduled next month in the country — which will involve Navy superpowers US, Japan, and China — has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re sending notice now to the different navies that we are going to postpone indefinitely the conduct of the International Fleet Review,” Navy chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said in a phone interview Sunday.
The fleet review was set for May 21. It is part of the Western Pacific Navy Symposium (WPNS), which will also be hosted by the Navy from May 19 to 21, said Lt. Cmdr. Maria Christina Roxas, Navy public affairs officer.
“The rapid increase in cases worldwide, which also affects 21 WPNS member countries and eight observer states, compelled the PN to defer the historic convergence of navy chiefs and warships in the country especially now that the Philippines is under the state of public health emergency,” said Roxas.
Bacordo said 17 countries have confirmed participation in the naval exercise, including the US, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea, and Malaysia.
“It (international fleet review) was supposed to be the first-ever international fleet review that the Philippine Navy will host and also for the Philippines, it will be the first time that we will have so many international ships, international military assets, within our territory simultaneously,” said Bacordo.
Bacordo said the Philippine Navy was supposed to deploy BRP Jose Rizal as the Philippine Navy lead ship during the review.
The ship, one of two frigates being constructed by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea for P18 billion under the AFP’s modernization program, is scheduled for delivery early next month. Bacordo said the arrival of BRP Rizal may be delayed also due to the COVID-19.