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The Philippine Navy’s new missile-frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) is preparing to set sail for the biannual Rim of The Pacific Exercise off the coast of Hawaii. This comes after two crew members of the Rizal tested positive for COVID-19, the Philippine Navy says. The two sailors are currently undergoing treatment and quarantine in Quezon City.
The Philippine Navy tested the rest of the crew on Sunday, along with other personnel set to sail for RIMPAC. The Rizal, with a crew of about 100 sailors, is scheduled to depart for Hawaii on Wednesday.
“Aside from the two personnel from FF-150 that were (earlier) confirmed to be positive (for COVID-19), all (crew members) got negative results,” Philippine Navy spokeswoman Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas told the Philippine News Agency on Thursday.
This is the Rizal’s first voyage, making RIMPAC its “shakedown cruise” as the crew tests the ship. The biannual exercise is the world’s largest naval exercise, but due to the pandemic is being scaled back in both size and duration.
The exercise will also take place entirely at sea — there will be no amphibious landings or shore leave for participating troops. Ships will come ashore only for fueling and maintenance.
This year’s RIMPAC is scheduled from Aug. 17 to Aug. 31.
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Kevin Knodell covers the military and veterans in Hawaii and the greater Pacific for Civil Beat as a corps member for Report For America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms.