The Philippine Navy is expected to receive in March its first two anti-submarine helicopters and four out of eight amphibious assault vehicles it has ordered for the Marine Corps.
This was disclosed by PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad during a chance interview shortly after the New Year’s Call at the AFP Commissioned Officers’ Club in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the PN flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), which ran aground off Hasa-Hasa Shoal last August, is expected to be available for operations before the end of 2019.
This was confirmed by Empedrad, who said: “We need to get the propellers from the US because these were the ones that were damaged. It will be available by yearend. If the delivery of the propellers is hastened, we will be able to fix these immediately.
“The determining factor of the replacement work is the availability of the propellers.”
For the moment, the patrol and other duties of Del Pilar are being carried by its two sister ships, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) and BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17).
He said: “Our personnel will be going there for) training by January...If the training ends by March or April, we will have something to use,.
Also, the South Korean ship will be coming to the PN with intact guns and sonar detection systems, which are needed badly by the Navy, are included in the transfer, he added.
Del Pilar ran aground off Hasa-Hasa Shoal on Aug. 29 of last year. The ship was pulled clear from Hasa-Hasa Shoal last Sept. 3 and towed to Subic Bay, Zambales on Sept. 7.
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 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.