Navy retires WWII-era BRP Rajah Humabon from service

After 38 years of service, the Philippine Navy (PN) has formally retired its oldest warship, the BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11), one of the last World War II-era warships still in active service, during short ceremonies in Sangley Point, Cavite Thursday morning. This was confirmed by Philippine Fleet spokesperson Lt. Sahirul Taib in a message Thursday.

The retirement of BRP Rajah Humabon is in-line with the Navy’s Strategic Sail Plan of “moving to legacy vessels to more and capable and modern vessels,” he added.

The Navy is awaiting the completion and delivery of two missile-armed frigates from South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. The contract is worth PHP18 billion, including weapon systems and munitions, with the delivery of the first ship expected by 2020.

Once commissioned in Philippine service, the frigates will give the Philippine Navy an anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine and electronic warfare capability.

The decommissioning is also in line with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s directive to retire the Navy’s remaining World War II-era warships due to their old age which also requires expensive maintenance.

“Yes, my directive is to fast track the decommissioning of World War II vintage ships. They are old and uneconomical to maintain,” Lorenzana added.

Prior to the arrival of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15) in 2011, BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) in 2013, and BRP Andrés Bonifacio (FF-17) in 2016, BRP Rajah Humabon together with the three Jacinto-class patrol vessels (former Royal Navy’s Peacock class patrol ships) served as the backbone of the PN.

It also served as ceremonial ship welcoming arriving foreign warships in Manila Bay. BRP Rajah Humabon started life as the US Navy destroyer escort, the USS Atherton (DE-169), in 1943. PNA