Navy readies protocols, personnel for use of new assets

To ensure the proper use and maintenance of all of its incoming assets, Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad is now busy establishing protocols and technical working groups (TWGs) to ensure that Filipino naval officers are capable of operating such equipment.

He made this statement during an interview with the military-run radio station DWDD on Wednesday.

“(I) focused on personnel on how to maintain and sustain doctrines, protocols. Halimbawa, sinong puputok ng (For example, who will fire the) missiles? Sino puputok ng (Who will fire the) torpedo? Wala kaming (We don’t have) doctrines on that aspect. So we created a lot of TWGs para magtrabaho sa bawat aspeto (to work on every aspect) (of modern warship operations) because our frigates (are) worth PHP8 billion each, ‘yung (the) helicopter na may (with) torpedoes is worth PHP2.75 billion, so we are talking of billions of equipment na kung hindi (tama ang) handling ng organization eh mawa-waste lang natin, masisira lang (that may be ruined or go to waste if not handled properly by the organization),” he added.

The PN is expecting the delivery of its first-missile firing frigate by 2020. The second frigate is expected to be delivered in 2021.

These ships are capable of neutralizing an air, surface and subsurface threat; and are worth PHP18 billion including the weapons and munitions.

Also, Empedrad stressed that equipment modernization should be parallel with the upgrade of the personnel tasked to man and operate it.

“Dapat parallel ung preparation (The preparation must be parallel). What we have been doing in the past is kuha lang tayo ng kuha ng equipment and then sinisira din natin (we just acquire equipment and then we ruin it),” he added.

In line with this, the PN chief said that they need a lot of money now for base development to house these incoming assets.

“We need a lot of budget to fund our programs like base support development, one of our bases in Sangley (Cavite City), we need around PHP11 million for its renovation. These cost millions and we need storage for our missiles and torpedoes and the study that we made shows that developing these sites requires PHP7 billion. So we need a lot of funds to support the upgrade of our capabilities,” he added.

Possible missiles and torpedoes sites for the PN include Caballo Island near Corregidor in Manila Bay, Subic Bay in Zambales, and Cebu.

Multiple sites are needed as the Navy cannot afford to put all its missiles and torpedoes in one place as one strike could eliminate all of these weapons in an instant.

“So we cannot put our missiles and torpedoes in one place kasi pag tinira, wala na (if all these are hit by one strike, they will be gone). We have to distribute them strategically,” Empedrad said. PNA