Monday, May 16, 2011

Philippine Navy to welcome new flagship this year

By Jell E. Guzman
Philippine Information Agency, Monday, May 16, 2011

MANILA, May 16 (PIA) – The Philippine Navy will soon be saying goodbye to its 1943-built flagship “BRP Rajah Humabon” and will say hello to the former United States’ Coast Guard vessel “Hamilton.”

The United States Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (USCGC Hamilton WHEC-715) is a weather high endurance cutter (vessel) that was sold under the United States Navy Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and was transferred to the Philippine Navy.

According to the Philippine Navy, the new vessel which was formally turned over to the Philippine government, Friday, May 13 will be named “BRP Gregorio del Pilar” (PF-15) and will be the Navy’s new flagship.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia Jr. received the vessel on behalf of the Philippine Navy together with Philippine Military Attaché to Washington Navy Captain Antonio Habulan, as representative of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The newly-acquired vessel will be the largest in the inventory of the Philippine Navy and will be deployed to patrol Philippine territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Navy’s Public Affairs Office said the USCGC Hamilton is 378 feet long and 42 feet wide, and the largest ever built for the US Coast Guard commissioned in 1967. The vessel was also used during the Vietnam war in the 1970s.

At present, the vessel is docked at the US Coast Guard facility in Alameda, California. Its maiden crew from the Philippine Fleet headed by Captain Alberto Cruz are also currently in the United States undergoing onboard familiarization training prior sailing to the Philippines in August this year.

The Cutter is armed with a 76mm gun mount controlled by an MK92 Fire Control System. The vessel was designed to take on long range search and rescue operations, oceanographic research and law enforcement - defense operations. Its hangar and flight deck are also capable of handling helicopter operations. (PN-PAO/RJB/JEG-PIA-NCR)

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