Ambassador Philippe J. Lhuillier calls on Admiral José Carlos Torrado Saldanha Lopes (left), Chief of Naval Staff of the Portuguese Navy on April 16, 2013 at the Navy Headquarters in Lisbon. Also in the photo is Rear Admiral José Luis Branco Seabra de Melo, his Chief of Staff.
Ambassador Philippe J. Lhuillier paid a courtesy call to Admiral José Carlos Torrado Saldanha Lopes, Chief of Naval Staff of the Marinha Portuguesa (Portuguese Navy) on April 16, 2013 at the Navy Headquarters in Lisbon.
During the meeting, Ambassador Lhuillier said that the Philippines and Portugal share the same interest to protect and preserve its extensive maritime jurisdiction. As an archipelagic country with a coast line of more than 36,000 kilometers, the Philippines carries the huge task of managing and maximizing the use of its vast marine resources. Admiral Lopes agreed with the Ambassador and acknowledged that the Navy covers an area of responsibility that is 63 times its land territory presenting a huge challenge for the 11,000-strong Navy.
The Ambassador conveyed the gratitude of the Philippine government for the assistance provided by the Navy and the Air Force during medical evacuations at sea of injured and seriously-ill Filipino seafarers, mostly from chemical tankers and cargo ships transiting the waters off the Portuguese coast. Every year, the Philippine Embassy receives a number of reports about Filipino seafarers evacuated to the islands of the Açores and Madeira for emergency reasons.
Ambassador Lhuillier credits the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centers (MRCC Lisboa and Delgada) for the timely reporting of maritime incidents involving Filipino nationals which enables the Embassy to react quickly and to provide the necessary assistance for the Filipino crew and up-to-date information for their families in the Philippines.
Admiral Lopes responded favorably to the proposal of the Ambassador to establish linkage between the Portuguese Navy and the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard through exchange visits and technical cooperation in the fields of search and rescue operations and marine environmental protection. The Ambassador also invited the Admiral to consider the possibility of sending a cadet to study in the Philippine Military Academy.
After their meeting, a briefing presentation on the organization, mission, and functions of the Portuguese Navy was given by the Navy staff. Also present during the briefing was Rear Admiral José Luis Branco Seabra de Melo, Chief of Staff of Admiral Lopes and Third Secretary and Vice Consul Rogelio Villanueva, Jr. who was a former Navy and Coast Guard Officer.
Admiral Melo highlighted the dual character of the Portuguese Navy as having both military and civilian functions. Under its unique organizational setup, the Navy includes the Fleet, Maritime Police, Hydrographic Institute, Maritime Department, and the Naval Academy with the Chief of Naval Staff serving as head of both the Navy and the National Maritime Authority.
The Ambassador was informed that the Portuguese Navy’s frigate NRP Alvares Cabral will be the flagship of the Operation Atalanta of the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) created to combat acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia and escort ships under the UN´s World Food Program and the AMISOM from April to August this year. Ambassador Lhuillier mentioned that the Philippines gives great importance to the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia due to the frequent cases of Filipino seafarers being held captives by pirates. In support of this, the Philippine Navy has deployed a Liaison Officer to the Combined Task Force based in Manama, Bahrain.
The Ambassador thanked the Navy leadership for the warm welcome accorded to him and expressed hope that the visit made will provide the impetus for greater collaboration between the uniformed services of both countries.
Ambassador Philippe J. Lhuillier poses with key Navy officers after the briefing presented by the Navy staff. Joining him is Third Secretary and Vice Consul Rogelio Villanueva, Jr.