Friday, August 19, 2011

‘Gregorio del Pilar’ is arriving Sunday

By Victor Reyes
Malaya, Friday, August 19, 2011

The Philippines’ newest and second warship, a Hamilton class ship acquired from the United States, is expected in Manila on Sunday.

Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay said the ship, acquired under the US Excess Defense Articles program, has been named BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

Manned by 13 officers and 82 enlisted personnel under Capt. Alberto Cruz, Tonsay said the ship will be passing the San Bernardino Strait and is expected to anchor at Manila Bay around 8 a.m. Sunday.

The ship left San Francisco last July 18 and made stops in Hawaii and Guam.

"Her deployment is flexible depending on the operational plan but she will help a lot in protecting our offshore resources by increased maritime domain awareness and added response capability," AFP spokesman Commodore Miguel Jose Rodriguez said.

The Philippines’ only warship, the BRP Rajah Humabon, is a World War II vintage destroyer escort.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which was launched by the US in 1967, will guard the Malampaya project in Palawan, which is the biggest foreign investment in the country.

Top military officials said the ship will also help protect the country’s maritime interests, including the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea. The oil and mineral rich islands are being claimed in part or in whole by the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

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