WESCOM commander Vice Adm. Roberto Carlos aboard the BRP Andres Bonifacio as it makes its way to the Galoc Oil Field, which is located 60 kilometers northwest of Palawan. (Photo from WESCOM Public Affairs Office)

The Philippine Navy’s BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS 17) is now performing patrol operations in Western Command’s (WESCOM) area of responsibility which includes territorial defense in the West Philippine Sea.

PS17 entered WESCOM’s joint operations area with Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos aboard, on July 6 off Pinnacle Rock, Busuanga Island in the province of Palawan from Sangley Point, Cavite City where it underwent repairs to its mission-critical pieces of machinery before deployment.

While undergoing repairs, Carlos visited the ship in what WESCOM described as an opportunity for the WESCOM chief to ensure the mission-readiness of all assets being deployed in the country’s last frontier.

The ship then passed by the Galoc Oil Field which is located 60 kilometers northwest of Palawan. It is one of the service contracts of the Department of Energy (DOE) which is being secured by the WESCOM along with the Malampaya Gas Fields, El Nido and Matinloc Oil Platforms.

“She is ready to perform her territorial defense functions at WESCOM. PS17 is indeed very mission-capable and I am confident that she will significantly strengthen our naval presence in the West Philippine Sea and secure our oil platforms,” Carlos said on Wednesday.

The BRP Andres Bonifacio is one of the three Del Pilar-class ships which are the former US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters that were converted into frigates. Other ships of the class are the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16).

Each ship has a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, a beam of 43 feet, and a draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

It has a cruising range of 14,000 miles, a sea and loiter time of 45 days, and is armed with a 76-mm. Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25-mm. and 20-mm. light cannons and .50-caliber machine guns.

“PS17 is one of the new patrol ships of the Philippine Navy which capable in the high seas. It is equipped with flight deck and hangar that makes her capable of air operations utilizing AFP’s Augusta helicopters,” WESCOM spokesperson Major Cheryl Tindog said. (With reports from Genn Magdayao)