The Philippines may have to wait until April next year to deploy its second warship, even as tensions triggered by conflicting ownership claims over islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) are expected to escalate.
Philippine Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama on Sunday said the scheduled commissioning of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will be delayed as the Hamilton-class cutter was still undergoing repairs and refitting in Charleston, South Carolina.
The 45-year-old frigate was formally acquired for P450 million by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from the US Coast Guard on May 22 as part of the US government’s military assistance program for the Philippines.
“The repairs are going on so most probably [the BRP Alcaraz] will arrive in the country in late March or early April next year,” Pama told reporters in a phone interview.
Cause is engine installation
He said the delay was caused mainly by the installation of a new main engine on the 3,250-ton warship, which was initially scheduled to sail from the United States last May.
“That’s why we are taking this opportunity for our personnel to undergo more training,” he said.
Asked if the ship would patrol the country’s coastline in the West Philippine Sea, he said “it will be deployed wherever it may be needed.”
In his State of the Nation Address in July, President Aquino announced the BRP Alcaraz would be sailing from the United States in January 2013 as part of the much-needed upgrade in war material for the AFP.
“We are not sending paper boats out to the sea. Now our 36,000 kilometers of coastline will be patrolled by more modern ships,” the President had said, referring to the decades-old vessel which the US Coast Guard decommissioned on March 30.
Formerly the USCGC Dallas, the AFP’s second frigate was named after the late Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a World War II hero who commanded the Q-boat Abra, which shot down three Japanese aircraft.
Like its sister ship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the BRP Alcaraz was classified as a high-endurance cutter built in 1968. Marlon Ramos
Originally posted: 6:34 pm | Sunday, December 2nd, 2012