PH Navy’s 2nd brand new, missile-capable frigate docks in Manila
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Navy on Friday formally welcomed its second brand new missile-capable frigate, which would be christened BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151).
The warship recently finished its quarantine period in Subic Bay after arriving from the Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea last February 9.
Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, the guest of honor at the arrival ceremony, joined Navy officials and other guests in welcoming the ship at Pier 13 in South Harbor.
Luna, the second and final ship of Rizal-class frigates, is scheduled to be commissioned sometime in March. It will join its sister-ship BRP Jose-Rizal (FF-150), which entered service in July 2020.
Capt. Charles Merric Villanueva, commanding officer of Luna, said he was proud to command and bring home one of the Navy’s most modern warships to date.
“It’s an honor for me. It’s an honor for my team. We are ready to perform the missions required of us in tandem with BRP Jose Rizal,” he said.
“Setting foot in Philippine waters, it gives you that pride that at last, we have achieved some of our objective of having a modernized and strong capable Navy,” he added.
The ship will be the second Navy vessel to be named after Antonio Luna, a Filipino army general who fought during the Philippine-American war.
The previous BRP Heneral Antonio Luna, an Emilio Aguinaldo-class patrol gunboat, was retired in 2016, after serving for 17 years.
Luna’s delivery marked a step nearer the conclusion of the Navy’s program to acquire its first purpose-built multi-role frigates, capable of surface, sub-surface, air, and electronic warfare.
Before Rizal and Luna came, the Navy’s most capable warships were hand-me-downs. These were former Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), and former US Coast Guard cutters Del Pilar-class ships BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15), BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), and BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17).
The Philippine government had signed a deal with HHI, a South Korean shipbuilder, in October 2016 for two multi-role frigates worth P16 billion, the Navy’s biggest implemented project so far. Another P2 billion is set aside for weapon systems and munitions, with most of it expected to be delivered early next year.
The frigate acquisition project, however, had been fraught with controversies. One of the contentious issues had been the selection of the frigates’ combat management systems. But the South Korean government eventually intervened in the end to settle the issue.
After the ship’s commissioning, it will undergo original equipment manufacturer training that could take months before it goes on full-scale deployment.
Navy chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said the Rizal-class warships will be sent to conduct sovereignty patrols and show the flag missions, among others, around the archipelago, including the West Philippine Sea and Benham Rise.
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