Navy eyes inclusion of Del Pilar frigates in ‘force package’ to Libya

The Philippine Navy (PN) said it is looking at the possibility of including its Gregorio Del Pilar-class frigates (formerly the US Coast Guard Hamilton cutters) in the force package it is preparing in response to the kidnapping of three Filipino overseas workers in Libya last July 6.

“Your Navy now has the capabilities that we can deploy in response to PRRD’s (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) directive. The force package being firmed up can include our Del Pilar-class frigates all in support to the lead agency handling the situation in Libya,” PN spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata said Monday.

Zata made this remark when asked on whether the said ships, which have long-range capabilities, are being eyed for possible deployment to Libya should the Chief Executive give the green light for their sailing.

Duterte earlier said he is considering the deployment of a Navy frigate in response to the kidnapping of Filipino workers in the North African country, an action which was earlier done by the South Korean government.

The Del Pilar class-frigates consist of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-11), BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) and BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17). 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 has a sea and loiter time of 45 days. Earlier, the PN announced that it preparing the appropriate force package in response to the kidnapping of three Filipino overseas workers and a South Korean national in Libya last month.

“Pursuant to the directive of the Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the Philippine Navy composed of Fleet-Marine component is planning for the appropriate force package as response to the kidnapping of three Filipinos along with one South Korean national in Libya,” Zata said in a statement over the weekend.

Initially, the PN has directed its liaison officer, Capt. Donn Miraflor, who is attached to the Combined Maritime Forces based in Bahrain, to coordinate with Boy Melicor, the Charge d’Affaires in Tripoli, Libya.

“Based on the preliminary information he gathered this morning (Saturday) the Libyan authorities have been exerting all efforts for the past month to ascertain the identity of the perpetrators and for the recovery of the kidnapped nationals,” Zata added.

“As your PN completes the facts on the ground, it is also preparing for the deployment of a Naval Task Group to assist the Department of Foreign Affairs in the situation in Libya,” Zata added. PNA