MANILA, Philippines – A day after it was named M/V Amazing Grace by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), the country's biggest humanitarian and disaster response ship was commissioned by President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila.
"With the launching of this ship, we join the PRC in embracing the culture of volunteerism and selflessness. May this inspire us to come together and reach out to anyone who may need aid and comfort," Duterte said in his speech during the commissioning ceremony on Tuesday, May 9.
The ship is a one-of-a-kind multi-role vessel that can be converted from a barge into a twin-hulled ship, capable of beaching or rolling up to the shore in shallow waters. This will allow the PRC to unload life-saving equipment and vehicles without the need for a deep water port.
Originally called the M/V Susitna, the ship was built in Alaska for the US Navy as a prototype. It was later converted into a ferry but was never used.
According to PRC Chairman and Senator Richard Gordon, the Red Cross acquired the ship at a substantial discount. One of the most hi-tech ships ever built, it costs US$1.75 million.
"I'm glad Amazing Grace is what the Red Cross is all about. It's not the name of a person. It's the name of a value, of an effort, of an energy, of a cause that drives people to do great things without being asked to," Gordon earlier said when the ship's name was revealed.
The commissioning of M/V Amazing Grace marks a milestone for PRC, which celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2017.
When Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the Philippines in 2013, the PRC realized the need to set up an emergency command center, and the need to be able to transport goods quickly across the archipelago.
"Through this, the PRC would be able to complement government forces in providing immediate relief assistance during emergency and crisis situations," Duterte said.
The new Red Cross ship can function as a mobile command center, cargo transport, and evacuation ship. – Rappler.com