Where Can You Find Kalinga – Apayao and Benguet? At Sea Of Course!

The mountaineer in me is always intrigued by the sea. That’s why I enjoy novels like Mutiny on the Bounty and movies such as Pirates of the Carribean. There’s something about the sea that is mysterious and inviting. So I consider it a blessing when I have to take a long trip by boat to the Visayas or Mindanao rather than the shorter one-two hour/s plane ride. Nothing beats watching the sea change its color to different shades of green or blue, the quietness of the breeze, the salty air, the white waves that roll on and on, and those flying/jumping fishes. Huh, I’m getting carried away here. But you know, maybe the sea is home for us mountain people. After all, if the history taught us in school is correct, didn’t our ancestors travel by boat from Malaysia/Indonesia. So maybe there’s a seafarer deep in our souls that long for the sea and that sometimes, the sea is calling us home. Ha ha, like the elves in the Lord of the Rings you know.

In any case, the sea is home for two ships named after two Cordillera provinces — the BRP Kalinga-Apayao and the BRP Benguet. For some reason the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) decided to name its amphibious warfare ships after Philippine provinces. Since the AFP doesn’t have as much amphibious ships as there are provinces, we should consider it an honor that these two ships are so named.

Here are photos of our ships (well they named it after us so let’s call them our ships). The one on the left is BRP Benguet while the one on the right and on the bottom is BRP Kalinga-Apayao.

Not very modern looking at all huh? Yeah but what do we expect? We’re third world you know. For those interested in ship lore, the BRP Kalinga Apayao actually used to be the South Vietnamese ship Can Tho which used to be the USS Garrett County. Its history is described in this website: “Ex-USS Garrett County (LST-786). Transferred to Vietnam in 23 April 1971. Escaped Vietnam in 1975. Was laid up in Subic after the fall of Vietnam and acquired by the Philippine Navy in 1977. Funding was approved and the ship was programmed to undergo an extensive refit in 2003/04. This has however been put on hold with the funds going towards the deposit for future acquisitions.” Interesting? Of course, any story about escaping from Vietnam is definitely interesting.

What about BRP Benguet? The ship was also acquired from the U.S. Navy but its past life has not been as dramatic. However, it has interesting exploits in recent times as it figured in a number of encounters against Chinese forces. In 2002, it ran aground in the Spratley Islands and the Chinese have accused the Philippine Navy of doing this on purpose to establish another point of presence in the disputed area. Lighten up China, the ship is old so it can run aground anytime it wants.

So there you have it, our ships sailing the Philippine seas, protecting our territory and serving as the nation’s defense against the mighty Chinese who, by the way, are monitoring us. The ships are obviously old but what can we do. Having Kalinga-Apayao and Benguet guarding our sealanes, no matter how ancient they may be, is better than nothing. I think they are more reliable than a politician guarding the integrity of the ballot box.

2 thoughts on “Where Can You Find Kalinga – Apayao and Benguet? At Sea Of Course!”

  1. interesting post. i didn’t know we had ‘hand me down’ ships. 😀 we’d probably be in trouble if we had to use those ships in battle, given that they seem so old and decrepit. that pretty much sums up the precarious stability (or instability) of the philippines.

  2. Hi Wil,
    Yup, you’re right. Actually, much of the Phil military’s equipment/ammo are hand-me-downs whose “lives” are extended to the point of endangering men and women in the service.

    Its scary really, Philippine Air Force planes have been crashing in recent years and they can’t pinpoint a specific cause as to why this is happening. I think its mainly because these planes are really old.

    Thanks.

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