Philippine Navy’s brand new warship commissioned
SUBIC BAY—The Philippine Navy on Friday (July 10) commissioned its first brand new warship in recent years, a key shift in the long-time practice of acquiring hand-me-down vessels from allies.
President Rodrigo Duterte presided over the handover, christening and commissioning ceremony held at Alava Pier in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, but doing so online to heed health protocol that is in force because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) is the first of two multi-role frigates built by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries for the Philippine Navy. The Philippine government had signed a deal in 2016 for two frigates for P16 billion.
“This ship represents the advancement and a welcome addition to the Philippine Fleet, being the first missile-capable frigate of the Philippine Navy,” said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Navy Chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said the ship, which carries the name of Philippine hero Jose Rizal, represents “love of country and fiery dedication to protect freedom and sovereignty.”
He described the acquisition as “a great milestone and accomplishment of the defense sector in decades.”
Lorenzana’s wife, Editha, swung a bottle of wine into the ship for good fortune in its voyages.
Other dignitaries at the ceremony included the ambassador of South Korea, top defense and military officials. Descendants of Dr. Jose Rizal were also invited to the event.
The BRP Jose Rizal, skippered by Capt. Jerry Garrido, will be deployed to the Rim of the Pacific exercises in Hawaii next month.
Launched in May 2019 in Ulsan, South Korea, the 2,600-ton, 107.5-meter warship is capable of anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine and electronic warfare. The second ship, the future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), is set for delivery in the next six months.
The process to acquire the two new ships wasn’t smooth sailing, however. The selection of combat management systems and the involvement of Malacanang in some of the documents related to the frigate deal drew national attention and even prompted the Senate and House of Representatives to conduct hearings.
Prior to the commissioning of BRP Jose Rizal, the Philippine Navy’s most capable warships were second hand vessels— the BRP Conrado Yap, a Pohang-class corvette donated by South Korea and the three Del Pilar-class vessels, all former US Coast Guard cutters.
In the next few years, Bacordo said the Philippine Navy is looking into acquiring more brand new sea assets, including offshore patrol vessels, corvettes, submarines, tactical combat vehicles, shore-based anti-ship missile systems, and shore-based air defense systems, to strengthen its fleet.
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