Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hamilton ship arrives from the US

By Alexis Romero
Philippine Star, Thursday, August 18,2011

MANILA, Philippines - The Hamilton-class ship acquired by the Philippine Navy from the US arrived in Philippine territory yesterday after almost a month of voyage from California.

The vessel, which has been renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar, entered the Philippines Sea at about 1 p.m., Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay said.

It passed through waters off Samar and the San Bernardino Strait off the Bicol region yesterday afternoon.

Once the ship becomes part of the Navy inventory, it would be deployed to the West Philippine Sea to secure energy projects in the area.

“As a multi-mission vessel, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar will be primarily important for the Philippine Navy’s maritime security and sovereignty patrols especially upon its deployment at the Malampaya project west of Palawan,” Tonsay said in a text message.

“Due to its classification as a weather high endurance cutter, its secondary roles will be in support for search and rescue,” he added.

A total of 95 Navy personnel are manning the ship that will dock on Manila Bay on Aug. 21. The ship will undergo customs and immigration quarantine and inspection before it will be presented in a welcome ceremony in the Manila South Harbor.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar is classified as a cutter, a high-speed vessel that can cut through waves.

The ship would be the Philippine Navy’s first Hamilton-class cutter and is now its largest vessel. It was acquired through the United States Excess Defense Act using proceeds from the Malampaya project funds.

The transfer cost has been pegged at P450 million while the operational cost for two years is estimated at P120 million.

The Hamilton-class cutter 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 380 feet-long cutter was turned over by the US Coast Guard to Philippine officials in California last May 13.

The vessel started its voyage on July 18 when it sailed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii from California on July 18.

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