The two Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) donated by the Australian Navy have been formally renamed to Barkong Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Ivatan (AT-298) and Batak (AT-299) during the acceptance ceremony held August 11 at the Philippine Navy headquarters compound in Manila.

The Navy also displayed its two newly acquired Agusta Westland 109 helicopters.

Outgoing Navy chief Vice Admiral Jesus Millan led the christening of the naval and air assets.

Millan is bowing out of the service for reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56. He will be replaced by Rear Admiral Caesar Taccad in change-of-command rites on mid-Monday afternoon, which will be attended by President Aquino.

The Navy said BRP Ivatan and BRP Batak were named in honor of the two distinct ethnic groups from Batanes and Palawan, respectively.

Millan said the two vessels constitute a significant boost to the Navy’s transport capability for personnel, equipment and disaster response missions.

“They will also be useful in transporting troops from one operational area to another,” Millan said.

As for the helicopters, the Navy originally planned for the acquisition of the much bigger AW139, but the model ordered became the AW109.

The helicopters are armed with caliber 50 machine guns and 2.75-inch rockets, and further equipped with maritime air surveillance capability, amphibious air support operations and weather search radar and forward looking infrared systems, enhancing the Navy’s maritime air surveillance and close air support capabilities for ground troops.

“These new assets are manifestations of our Navy’s optimum readiness to perform its tasks and the ability to adapt vis-a-vis the emergent operating environment. This special occasion likewise signifies the assurance from your Navy of renewed strength and vigor in accomplishing our mandates,” Millan said.