Red-carpet welcome for the Philippine ‘newer’ warship

THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is laying down on Tuesday a red-carpet welcome for its relatively new and biggest warship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which is expected to boost the navy’s maritime capability.

Del Pilar, a former US Coast Guard Hamilton Class Cutter, have arrived and made anchorage at Manila Bay early morning Sunday following a nearly month long sea-voyage from its former home in San Francisco, California.

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is expected to be the guest of honor for the arrival ceremonies for BRP Gregorio del Pilar at Pier 13 of the Manila South Harbor with top defense and military officials also attending.

The of 115 meter long, BRP del Pilar, formerly known as USS Hamilton, will be the biggest warship to commissioned in the Philippine Navy and will soon become the flagship of the Philippine Fleet, the navy said in a statement.

BRP Del Pilar, which was acquired for P450 million under the US foreign military sales (FMS), is manned by 13 officers and 82 enlisted men, is expected to boost the country’s maritime patrol capability.

AFP spokesman, Commodore Miguel Jose Rodriguez said earlier that the relative newer ship for the navy will be used in wide array of mission, such as maritime patrol, efforcement of marime laws and protection of maritime resources.

“Her (del Pilar) is highly flexible depending on the operational plan, but she will help a lot in the protection of our offshore resources by increase maritime domain awareness and added response capability,” Rodriguez told defense reporters in an earlier interview.

Del Pilar will replace as flagship, the BRP Rajah Humabon, a vintage World War II destroyer escort and will join and lead the Philippine fleet, composed mostly of patrol vessels and small patrol boats.

Top military officials said the newer ship will also help in protecting the country’s maritime interests, including Spratly’s, the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea believed to be rich in mineral deposits.

The said region of islets and atolls, some 300 kilometers of Palawan is being claimed in part or wholly by the several other countries namely, the Philippines, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

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