The American flag came off the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas for the last time Tuesday, with its new owner saying the vessel will help ensure stability in a part of the globe vital to U.S. interests.
In a ceremony meant to highlight decades of cooperation and friendship, the Dallas officially left American service behind to join the Philippine navy.
The boat’s new name is the Ramon Alcaraz, to honor a Filipino naval officer who captained a torpedo boat in some of the earliest engagements with the Japanese during World War II.
Accepting the ship on behalf of the Philippine government, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa stressed the acquisition should not be seen as a threat to Pacific neighbors.
“Many might speculate on the timing of this acquisition because (of) our territorial disputes with China,” he said in prepared remarks during the dockside ceremony in North Charleston.
But he said the goal is to use the ship, and hopefully a third later from the U.S., to develop the Malampaya Gas Projects.
Beyond foreign affairs, Tuesday’s ceremony was the ending step in the Dallas’ 45-year U.S. career, which in recent times was heavy on drug interdiction missions in the Caribbean.
Most of her crew is leaving Charleston, or already has left, for other assignments. About 50 personnel are staying behind to help train and advise the takeover Filipino crew.
“I hope she will serve the Philippines as faithfully and capably as she has served the United States of America,” Coast Guard Rear Adm. John H. Korn said.