Last April, R/V Melville was renamed as BRP Gregorio Velasquez after National Scientist (NS) Gregorio T. Velasquez, who is recognized for his pioneer scientific studies of the biology, ecology and uses of Philippine algae.

NS Velasquez was selected as one of the first academicians of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) in 1978 and was conferred the rank and title of National Scientist in 1983. He founded the Algological Society of the Philippines, which is now called the Phycological Society of the Philippines, in 1956.

Built in 1969, the 279-foot vessel was operated by Scripps Oceanographyas part of the University-National Laboratory System (UNOLS) to conduct general oceanographic research functions.It is equipped with permanent scientific equipment such as multibeam, sub-bottom profiler, magnetometer, gravity meter, an acoustic Doppler current profiler and an underway data system, which can support a wide range of activities across every discipline of oceanography.

BRP Gregorio Velasquez was turned over to the Philippine Navy by the US government as promised by US President Barack Obama during his APEC visit in the country last year. It is expected to render services for oceanographic and environmental research. The naval ship will be used to study the Benham Rise, a minerals- and natural gas- rich region located in the Philippine Sea, about 250 km east of the northern coastline of Isabela in northern Luzon. ~Ana Loren B. Durana