Arrival of 2 frigates to ease PHL Navy patrol missions

The Philippine Navy (PN) will be in a more comfortable position to carry out its patrol mandate once the two missile-armed frigates, currently being constructed by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), gets delivered in two years’ time.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made the statement Friday when asked whether the Navy has sufficient assets to perform its duties, as several of its most capable ships are slated for periodic maintenance and upgrades.

This includes its flagship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), which is still awaiting its replacement propellers following its grounding at the Hasa-Hasa Shoal on August 29 last year.

The ship is expected to become available for patrol duties by the end of the year.

“Hindi naman sabay sabay na pupunta sa repair dock ‘yang mga yan. Scheduling lang yan (These ships will not be repaired all at the same time. It is a matter of scheduling). In two years’ time, when we get our two frigates, we will be more comfortable,” he said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

HHI is expected to deliver the first ship by 2020 and the second by 2021.

The Philippines and HHI signed a PHP16-billion contract for two missile-armed frigates, with another PHP2 billion set aside for its weapon systems and munition.

When asked whether the defense department is planning to acquire additional Hamilton-class cutters from the US, which are being decommissioned and replaced with newer vessels, Lorenzana said the Philippines will wait first for the US to offer the ships to the country.

“No, we are not. We will await their offer and study if the acquisition is in line with our PN modernization,” he added.

The Hamilton-class cutters were converted by the PN into the frigates, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16), and BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17). PNA