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BRP Gabriela Silang is dressed for the change of flag ceremony at the Port of Saint Nazaire at France’s western Atlantic coast.

SAINT NAZAIRE, 18 December 2019—After successfully completing weeks of sea-trials, the newly-minted BRP Gabriela Silang of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) finally donned the Philippine flag at ceremonies held at the shipyard of the French shipbuilder OCEA, S.A. at the port city of Saint Nazaire on 18 December 2019.

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Philippine flag is hoisted for the first time at BRP Gabriela Silang’s mast (left). PCG crew looks on as change of flag ceremony takes place.

Ambassador Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro and Commercial Counsellor Froilan Emil Pamintuan attended the ceremony with top officials of the Prefectural Government of Saint Nazaire and Regional Council of Pays de la Loire and other guest also gracing the historic event.

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Amb. Ma. Theresa Lazaro (center) is joined by Mme. Florence Beuvelet,, Regional Councilor of Pays de la Loire (right) and Michel Bergue, Sub-Prefect of Saint-Nazaire.

Touted as the largest aluminum-hull ship in the world todate, the 84-meter offshore patrol vessel (OPV) is a vital part of the Philippine Ports and Coast Guard Capability Development Project. The BRP Gabriela Silang will be joining the four other 24-meter fast patrol boats which were already delivered by OCEA to the Philippines in 2018. The OPV has a helideck and hangar. As the first PCG ship with a diesel-electric engine, the ship can sail for up to 22 days without refueling and carries up to 40 crew members, 26 other passengers, and 35 survivors.

Led by Commander Alberto Ferre, PCG and supported by his 37-member Filipino PCG crew, the BRP Gabriela Silang is scheduled to begin its historic voyage from France by the end of December and arrive in the Philippines in early February.

“I am sure that she will valiantly take her place, like the pioneering Filipina heroine she is named after, in helping secure the maritime domain of the more than 7,600 islands that make up the Philippines,” declared Ambassador Lazaro.

Department of Transportation (DoT) Secretary Arthur Tugade visited France and OCEA in the early spring of 2017 which paved the way for closer cooperation between DoTR and OCEA to further develop the maritime industry in the Philippines. OCEA has successfully established its branch office in the Philippines in 2018 and has begun operations this year.

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Ambassador Lazaro signs guestbook aboard BRP Gabriela Silang.

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Ambassador Lazaro, French officials join PCG crew at the helipad of BRP Gabriela Silang.