Sunday, May 22, 2011

Navy to deploy 2 gunboats, supply ship for anti-terror operations

By Jaime Laude
Philippine Star, Sunday, May 22, 2011

Manila, Philippines - The Navy will deploy two gunboats and a supply ship for anti-terror security operations in the Sulu Sea next week.

Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama would officially send off BRP Manuel Gomez, BRP Emilio Liwanag and BRP Dagupan City to show its commitment to upgrade its capability.

The deployment of the gunboats and supply ship will coincide with the Navy’s 113th anniversary celebration at its headquarters in Roxas Boulevard, Manila.

Tonsay said the gunboats would be deployed under the Fleet-Marine concept, the Navy’s program devoted to fighting terror in several areas of Western Mindanao.

“They will be bringing in supplies and logistics to our units in Western Mindanao. Included in their mission is the conduct of maritime security patrols,” Tonsay said.

Cmdr. Kenneth Tingabngab of the Navy’s Modernization Office said the two gunboats were acquired from South Korea and were upgraded in Navotas City.

He said the Philippine government paid only $100 for each ship as these were practically donated by South Korea as a goodwill measure.

“By letting the local firms undertake the upgrade, we can generate jobs and promote the local shipyard industry,” Tingabngab said.

The 110-foot tall patrol killer mediums were manufactured in the 1980s and primarily for patrolling and interdiction.

The upgrade involved the refurbishment of the ships’ guns, engines, generators, sensors and communication items. The Navy has six patrol killer mediums in its inventory.

Tingabngab said they are also expecting the delivery of a locally manufactured landing craft utility in August.

Philippine Iron Construction and Marine Works in Misamis Oriental manufactured the 51-meter craft, which cost P178 million.

“Tapping the local industry has advantages. We encourage the local firms to upgrade and we create employment,” Tingabngab said.

The Navy also expects the delivery of three multi-purpose attack craft worth P276 million in December.

“These (multi-purpose attack crafts) can be used for special operations. We already have three of them in the inventory and we will add three more,” Tingabngab said.

He said the Navy’s modernization efforts would boost the morale of troops.

“It brings confidence to the people if they are well-equipped. They will also have a fighting edge,” Tingabngab said.

Other Navy projects to be implemented this year are the one-ton troop carrier (P45,999), two-ton troop and cargo carrier (P80,499), the upgrade of Jacinto class patrol vessel (P353.65 million) and configuration of a 20W radio (P231 million).

The Navy is searching for ways to upgrade its capability as it cannot rely solely on its yearly budget, which is usually allotted for salaries and operational expenses.

It has bared plans to solicit assistance from private firms and individuals who want to help in improving its capabilities. -With Alexis Romero

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