Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) divers are now assessing the condition of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15) which ran aground off Hasa-Hasa (international name Half-Moon) Shoal) on Wednesday.
This, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato in a message to the Philippine News Agency Saturday.
“May divers ang PCG from MRRV 4407 (BRP Sindangan) na tumutulong sa assessment ng condition ng pagkasadsad para maplano nang mabuti ang approach sa pag-retrieve (There are divers from PCG from MRRV 4407 who are now helping in the assessing the condition of the ship in order to properly plan the retrieval approach). So, while waiting for the tugboats and other PCG and Navy platforms to arrive, surface and underwater assessments are being done to come up with the right plan of retrieval,” he added.
Also, an inter-agency task force, named Joint Task Force “Goyong”, under the leadership of Commodore Rommel Galang, was activated thay includes the PCG, Navy, and Air Force. Galang is the current commander of Naval Forces West, Detoyato said.
“Commodore Rommel Galang is the on-site commander. He was flown in by the PN’s AugustaWestland AW-109 naval helicopter. He will manage, supervise and direct the retrieval operations. He was formerly assigned with the Naval Sea Systems Command,” he said.
“He was flown in so that the captain of FF-15 (BRP Gregorio Del Pilar) can concentrate on the day-to-day operations of FF-15 and the safety and security of his ship,” he added.
Initial reports indicated that the grounded frigate is recoverable, Detoyato said.
BRP Sindangan (MRRV 4407) arrived in the area 11 a.m. Friday and will be joined by the BRP Cabra (MRRV 4409) anytime soon to render any assistance needed that might be needed by the grounded BRP Gregorio Del Pilar especially should there be a need to remove non-essential personnel to lighten the ship.
BRP Nestor Reinoso (PG-380) is also on hand to provide help, he said.
Detoyato earlier said two tugboats left Batangas, one on Thursday and one on Friday, to help in the recovery operations.
The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is one of three Hamilton-class cutters acquired by the PN from the United States Coard Guard and converted into frigates. These ships have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.
They have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and has a sea and loiter time of 45 days and armed with a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25mm and 20mm light cannons and .50 caliber machineguns.