A major dockyard repair awaits Philippine Navy (PN) flagship BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15) once she is pulled clear from Hasa-Hasa (international name Half-Moon) Shoal after the grounding that resulted in the detachment of her starboard (right) propeller from the shaft.
This was disclosed by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato in an interview with reporters Monday.
The detachment of the starboard propeller was discovered by Coast Guard divers aboard BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) and Naval Special Operations Group aboard the grounded frigate during initial assessment dives conducted over the weekend.
Detoyato said the detached propeller was recovered by the divers and is repairable.
Also, the assessment dives indicated that the hull of BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is intact.
“The hull is intact, there is no leaking,” Detoyato added.
Possible methods on how to extract the ship from Hasa-Hasa Shoal will be determined once the two tugs contracted from the Batangas-based Malayan Towage and Salvage Corporation arrived in the area.
M/T Vigilant and M/T Trabajador are expected in the area Monday. They were initially expected Sunday but were slowed down by the need to refuel.
Batangas to Hasa-Hasa Shoal is over 800 kilometers, Detoyato added.
Aside from the Coast Guard’s BRP Sindangan and Navy’s BRP Nestor Reinoso (PG-380), the BRP Benguet (LT-507), a landing ship, is now on-scene to help in the possible off-loading of non-essential equipment and personnel to lighten the ship in preparation for extrication.
Tide and wind conditions will be factored in during the retrieval operations.
The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is one of three Hamilton-class cutters acquired by the PN from the United States Coast 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.
These vessels have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and have 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 machine guns.