New PH Navy chief vows ‘proper upkeep’ of new ships, assets

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Newly-appointed Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command, Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo J. Bacordo on Monday said he will work to ensure the sustainability and fighting form of the new ships and platforms the Navy is acquiring as part of its modernization thrust.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, Bacordo said materiel and facilities are needed for the maintenance of the PN’s vessels and platforms.

“Before the arrival of these new assets, we (must) prepare for the materiel and facility requirements of these vessels and platforms so that we’ll be ensured that in 10, 20 years’ time, they are still operational and (in) fighting form,” Bacordo said when asked on what will be his thrust as new PN’s highest ranking officer.

In the pipeline for the PN are the two missile-armed Jose Rizal-class frigates which are expected to be delivered by May and September this year.

Still awaiting approval is the acquisition of six offshore patrol vessels and eight fast-attack interdictor craft-missile and two corvettes.

Bacordo said the maintenance and upkeep facilities are needed to ensure that the Navy’s ships and platforms won’t be rundown like the other assets of the PN due to the lack of maintenance.

He was referring to the Navy’s patrol interdiction craft armed with the 30mm Emerlec guns and the three 76mm Oto-Melara automatic cannon-equipped Jacinto-class patrol vessels acquired in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively. Those weapons deteriorated due to a lack of maintenance.

Another example, he said, is the three Gregorio Del Pilar-class offshore patrol vessels which were equipped with two marine gas turbines each which allows the ships to run faster and with less noise.

And due to lack of upkeep, only two of the six gas turbines are still operational, Bacordo said.

Bacordo said these issues would have been avoided had the PN invested also on acquiring dry-docks, special tools, equipment, and skills that would allow its personnel to perform intermediate, depot-level maintenance on its assets and port or harbor facilities for its larger vessels.

To address the problem, Bacordo vowed to work hard to ensure that the PN will have the capabilities to maintain well its military materials and equipment during his tenure.

“In order to do, we have to have a change in mindset. For me, that is the biggest challenge. Changing the mindset of every sailors and marines from that of a ‘legacy navy’ to that of a modern navy,” Bacordo said.

“This means that old systems that are counter-productive will be removed. You to have to think modern and do modern. Among the things that we have to remove are temporary solutions,” he added.

Bacordo cited as an example the habit of fixing leaky pipes aboard ship by wrapping the hole with rubber strips rather than removing the pipe and determining whether there is rust inside and replacing it with new ones.

He said this temporary solution mentality is not needed when operating equipment or platforms worth billions of pesos.

As new PN chief, Bacordo said he will also allow naval officers to specialize in their chosen fields rather than emphasizing on the career track that will eventually lead to the command of a naval ship.

“Let these people specialized also in their respective areas. Give them space in the organization. Give them room also so they will have their respective careers as personnel officers, as logisticians, as communications officers, (as weapons officers, electronics, information system officers),” he added.

Bacordo, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1987, replaced outgoing PN chief Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, who formally retired from the service Monday (Feb. 3) after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Empedrad is a member of the PMA Class of 1986 and served as PN chief since December 2017.

Besides being the Philippine Fleet commander since April 2019, the new PN chief also served as head of the Naval Sea Systems Command and Naval Forces Southern Luzon among others. PNA.GOV.PH