The Philippines on Thursday formally received one of 10 Japanese patrol vessels provided by an official development assistance loan to improve Manila's maritime capabilities amid its territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.

The 44-meter multi-role response vessel, which will be named BRP Tubbataha and assigned to the Philippine Coast Guard, was built by Japan Marine United Corp. in Yokohama and funded by a 7.3 billion peso ($158 million) loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The Philippine government is contributing 1.4 billion pesos to the 10-vessel project, which is expected to be completed in 2018.

"In the past few years, we have all been witness to the growing and evolving challenges that the Philippine Coast Guard is facing, and the maritime community and the sea-traveling public also had to face. Who could forget the devastation and horror brought about by Super Typhoon Yolanda?" asked Rear Adm. William Melad, the coast guard chief, at the ceremony to welcome the BRP Tubbataha. Yolanda, known elsewhere as Typhoon Haiyan, claimed more than 6,300 lives in the Philippines in 2013.