Sunday, January 23, 2011

Navy soon to get its largest vessel ever

By Victor Reyes
Malaya, Monday, 24 January 2011

The Navy is in the process of acquiring a Hamilton class US Coast Guard cutter, a high-endurance ship which will be the Navy’s largest vessel if the acquisition under the Foreign Military Sales of the US Department of Defense pushes through.

Rear Adm. Alexander Pama, Navy chief, did not say at what price the vessel would be acquired. He said details are still being discussed.

Pama said the vessel might be delivered this year.

He said discussions are also ongoing for the acquisition of other US ships.

Navy spokesman Capt. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said former Navy chief Rear Adm. Danilo Cortez inspected the cutter during a visit to US last November. Cortez retired early this month.

The cutter will be the first in the inventory of the Navy whose modernization program is being delayed by lack of funds.

Pama said the vessel is expected to boost the Navy’s capability, particularly in the conduct of patrol in the high seas and in search and rescue operations during disasters.

Twelve High Endurance Cutters (WHEC) were introduced in the US Coast Guard inventory in the 1960s. The first of the class was the Hamilton (WHEC-715) commissioned in 1967.

According to the US Coast Guard website, the 378-foot WHEC class is the largest of cutters, aside from three major icebreakers, ever built for the US Coast Guard.

These are equipped with a helicopter flight deck, retractable hangar, and facilities to support helicopter deployment.

The largest surface combatant ship of the Navy now is the destroyer escort BRP Rajah Humabon which is 308 feet long.

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