45-year-old US ship for transfer to Philippine Navy has defectsBy Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines—The next Hamilton ship from the United States expected by the Philippine Navy to be transferred by end of May this year experienced defects before its last patrol with the US Coast Guard.
The 45-year-old ship, scheduled to be decommissioned in March, was due for return to its homeport in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday morning (US time) after completing a 94-day patrol.
“Through most of this more than 90-day patrol we have focused on simply getting underway and staying underway; a greater feat than one may think. After four decades of service, Dallas’ equipment failures have impacted our ability to perform missions on a daily basis and throughout this patrol the crew has worked through some amazing challenges,” wrote Captain Jim Munro, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Dallas, in his farewell message to the ship as posted in the US Coast Guard website Tuesday (US time).
“During months of preparation, a hole was cut in Dallas’ hull and a main diesel engine block was replaced. The crew then worked to pull together systems that were dormant during a long in-port period and breathed life back into them. They fought through a flurry of last-minute equipment casualties and the material challenges of an old ship were felt immediately as we experienced problems with the reduction gear lubrication systems,” he added.
“After diverting to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for repairs, we were back underway. A long stint of operations followed, 30 days worth, and it felt good to get that under our belt, especially as two go-fast interdictions occurred in that intense period,” he also said.
During the three-month patrol of Dallas, one of the “most capable cutters stationed on the East Coast,” the crew made one marijuana seizure and one cocaine drug interdiction. The ship also transferred detainees suspected of attempting to smuggle drugs into the U.S., to various law enforcement agencies. The cutter made a stop in Cartagena, Colombia, and several visits to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the US Coast Guard said.
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense Public Affairs posted in its Facebook account Wednesday confirming that the ship is retiring but it did not acknowledge that the ship will join the Navy asset.
“Though there will be additional Hamilton class ships scheduled to join our fleet, much of the public’s enthusiasm especially modernization buffs believe that the next sister ship for “Gorio” would be the soon-to-be decommissioned US Coast Guard Dallas. The ship is indeed retiring from service and without final confirmation yet that this ship will join our Navy, you can read its ‘final logs’ and stories of its remaining voyages in the USCG. Again, let us all wait for the official announcement.”
But last week, Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said he has already received the formal letter of offer on the Hamilton Class Cutter US Coast Guard Dallas.
“Kung masusunod yung schedule, bago matapos and taon, dalawa na yung Secretary Class natin. Maaring May (If the schedule will be followed, before the end of the year we will have two Secretary Class vessels),” Pama told reporters after the Philippine Military Academy Homecoming.
The United States Congress formally approved the transfer of the Dallas to the Philippines on February 10 this year.