Salvage teams preparing to refloat PH Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar
Salvage teams are gearing up for preparations to refloat the stricken Philippine Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“As per experts’ assessment, our local team can successfully extricate Del Pilar from her current situation having taken into account technical matters like tide and current, the force required to remove from her position…” military spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo told reporters on Monday.
“Our team, headed by Commodore Rommel Galang, is confident that it can complete its mission in due time,” Arevalo said.
Galang has been designated to lead Task Force Goyong that supervises the retrieval operations of the stranded warship.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a former US Coast Guard cutter and the lead ship of her class, ran aground on Wednesday night in the vicinity of Hasa-Hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal) while on routine patrol.
No one was hurt from the incident but the damage was largely in the starboard propeller and slightly in the port propeller. “The hull of the vessel is intact,” Arevalo said.
Two tugboats from a privately-owned firm — M/T Trabahador and M/T Vigilant — have arrived on Monday to help extricate the warship. The salvage master and salvage supervisor of SMIT Salvage and Towing were aboard del Pilar as of 9 a.m.
Navy ships BRP Benguet (LS-507) and BRP Nestor Reinoso (PC-380) are currently on scene to assist in the operations and provide provisions to the personnel of the stranded ship.
Del Pilar’s sistership, BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17), is currently on its way toward the stranded vessel, Arevalo said.
Air assets from the Air Force and Navy continue to conduct aerial patrols.
The salvage operations to refloat the vessel may begin at 4:00 p.m. on Monday or at 4:00 a.m. the next day, depending on the high tide, Arevalo said. /vvp
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