THE Philippine Navy will officially took possession of its its third Hamilton-class cutter on Thursday after it commissioned the United States Coast Guard Cutter “Boutwell” and renamed it Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas “Andres Bonifacio.”
Commander Marineth Domingo, acting chief of the Navy public affairs office, said the Bonifacio was commissioned at the OSCG base in Alameda, California in a ceremony witnessed by Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Bayani Gaerlan and Offshore Combat Force commander Commodore Robert Emperad.
The crew of the Bonifacio, led by Capt. Brendo Casaclang, will undergo training for three months before its maiden voyage to the Philippines in October. The vessel is expected to arrive in November.
Before its transfer to the Philippine Navy, the Boutwell served in the US Coast Guard for 48 years and was only decommissioned last March.
It is the country’s third Hamilton-class cutter after the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, both donated by the United States under its Excess Defence Articles program.
“They will be primarily important for the Philippine Navy’s maritime security and sovereignty patrols in line with our mandate to protect the people and the state,” Domingo said.
The Hamilton-class cutter was the largest class of vessel in the United States Coast Guard until it was replaced by the National Security Cutter, aside from the Polar-class icebreakers.
The cutters are powered by two diesel engines and two gas turbines and have controllable-pitch propellers. They are equipped with a helicopter flight deck, retractable hangar, and the facilities to support helicopter deployment.
Domingo did not indicate if the ship still had its navigation and weapons systems upon its transfer, but the Del Pilar and Alcaraz were both transfered bare, spurring the Armed Forces of the Philippines to undertake contracts with several international weapons suppliers.
Domingo said the acquisition of the Bonifacio will boost the Navy’s assets after the delivery of a brand-new sealift vessel from Indonesia, now called the BRP Tarlac, the first of its class. The country also acquired five new landing crafts from Australia last year.