Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ex-cutter is Navy's newest ship

By Elena L Aben
Manila Bulletin, Saturday, July 16,2011

MANILA, Philippines — A Hamilton-class cutter of the United States Coast Guard will set sail from San Francisco, California, USA for the Philippines on July 18 to begin its new life as a ship of the Philippine Navy.

Philippine Navy Flag Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Alexander Pama will join the send-off for the ship, which will be christened BRP Gregorio del Pilar, for her three-week voyage to the Philippines.

Pama said the send-off will signal the last leg of activities for Gregorio del Pilar in the US before it heads for the country.

“All preparations have been made for this long trip home as the actual send-off takes place on July 18, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.,” said Pama who will be flying to the US for the activity.

The ship was turned over to the Philippine government last May 13 during turnover rites attended by Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia Jr., US Coast Guard Pacific Area and Defense Force West Commander, Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown; and Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attache to the US, Navy Captain Antonio A. Habulan Jr. Aside from Pama, Philippine Deputy General Consul to San Francisco Wilfredo Santos will also attend the send-off for the Gregorio del Pilar.

The Navy’s spokesman, Col. Omar Tonsay, said the cutter was acquired through the United States Excess Defense Act (EDA) using Department of Energy Malampaya Project funds.

The ship will stop over in Hawaii and Guam for replenishment before continuing on to the Philippines.

Gregorio del Pilar was largely used by the US Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue, living marine resources protection, and defense readiness.

The Philippine Navy intends to use the multi-mission vessel for maritime security patrols and search and rescue.

More specifically, it will be deployed to aid in maritime security in the Malampaya Project west of Palawan, an area where there are several oil exploration projects.

The ship was specifically designated as a Weather High Endurance Cutter (WHEC). In the Philippines, it will be re-classified as a Surface Combatant Ship with a “Type Code” of “P” for Patrol and is further classified as a Frigate with a “Type Code” of “F”, hence the designation of “PF”.

Pama said the ship is powered by combined diesel engines and gas turbines and equipped with a helicopter flight deck, a retractable hangar, and facilities to support helicopter operations.

The Gregorio del Pilar measures 378 feet from bow to stern and has a displacement (Full Load) of 3,390 tons.

It has a maximum speed of 26 knots and a range of 14,000 nautical miles.

It can stay at sea for 30 days and has a crew of 18 officers and 144 enlisted men

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