The amphibious assault vehicles making their way to Maratapi Beach in Barangay Cabayugan from BRP Davao del Sur (LD 602) for a ship-to-shore troop deployment demonstration on November 3. (Palawan News photo)

Two amphibious assault vehicles of the Armed Forces of the Philippines demonstrated their land and water warfare and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities yesterday, setting off from a landing dock ship anchored in the waters of Oyster Bay to a beach in Cabayugan village.

Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, commander of the Western Command (Wescom), explained that the military vehicles, two of eight in the country, are specifically intended for use by marines and other amphibious forces to transport troops and equipment from ships to shore during amphibious assaults and operations.

Amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs), he emphasized, are capable of operating both in water and on land, making them versatile assets not only for expeditionary warfare but also for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR), such as search and rescue in flooded areas, transport of relief supplies, evacuation of residents from disaster-prone areas, and others.

Carlos said the operations of the AAVs, which are newly acquired vehicles of the Philippine Marine Corps, are synchronized with the 3rd Marine Brigade’s (3MBde) Marine Battalion Landing Team-9 (MBLT-9), incorporating its specialized unit known as the Marine Amphibious Ready Unit (MARU), as well as the Philippine Navy’s landing dock BRP Davao del Sur (LD 602).

As part of the training and demonstration of proficiency landings that took place near Puerto Princesa, he saw firsthand how well they worked together. The main goal was to improve the province’s defenses and make sure that they were ready to help with disaster relief and recovery efforts in the area.

“Nagsama sama sila ngayon dito sa Western Command, and we want to make sure that they can interoperate with each other. The design is for us to conduct an amphibious operation—these are the tools we need. Ito nga, kailangan mag training sila para nagkakaintindihan sila,” he said.

“Very complex operation yong amphibious operation—coordination with the barko and the launching of the AAV. Nakita natin, they are really working properly; they are working closely with each other, and we’re happy with the results. Maayos naman yong na conduct natin na amphibious operation, we followed all the procedures, and this is just the start of more training activities like this in the Western Command,” Carlos added.

Early on November 3, Carlos convened a briefing session with key military personnel, including Naval Forces West commander Commodore Alan Javier, 3MBde deputy commander Colonel Wilfredo Manalang, BRP Davao del Sur skipper Commander Marco Sandalo, MBLT-9’s 1Lt. Carlos Alingcayon, and other officials.

The briefing served as a crucial preparatory step before the AAVs embarked from BRP Davao del Sur for Maratapi Beach in Barangay Cabayugan.

During the briefing, the focus was on detailing the ship-to-shore deployment procedures for AAVs, with the primary objective of ensuring the utmost safety and operational effectiveness. Carlos said it’s important to emphasize that such operations represent an integral and indispensable facet of amphibious military maneuvers.

The AAVs transported a total of 42 troops and six crew members from MBLT-9, with one of them carrying Carlos for a ship-to-shore landing lasting approximately 25 to 30 minutes.

As they approach the designated beach, where waves crash near the shore, operators take on the challenging task of navigating through the surf zone safely.

Upon reaching the beach, supported by aerial assistance, Marines disembark one by one from the AAVs, forming an organized formation as they make their way towards the shore. The approach is conducted with the safeguards of naval and air support to ensure the area’s security against potential enemy threats.

Subsequently, troops and equipment quickly escaped the AAVs to establish a beachhead. This phase’s speed and precision are critical for keeping the element of surprise and efficiently securing the landing location.

“This exercise is geared towards interoperability in sustaining our readiness to address any contingencies. Yong mga tropa natin, nagtra-train din sila on different aspects for handling kapag meron tayong HADR and yong mga security elements,” Manalang said.

Carlos added that having the AAVs in Palawan and personally experiencing the training now provides Wescom with several “possibilities” on how to maximize their use, especially in HADR.

“Having this capability in Palawan, in the Western Command, we can focus first on HADR, kapag mangkaroon tayo ng bagyo or any emergency here since this is a very versatile equipment that we can use to launch operations from the sea,” he said.