The arrival of the Philippine Navy ‘s first missile-frigate, the prospective BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), will greatly boost the PN’s capability in fulfilling its mandate of defending the country’s vast territorial.
This, according to Offshore Combat Force head, Commodore Karl Decapia, as the brand-new ship safely anchored off Subic Bay on May 23, or five days after leaving the Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea on May 18.
“(Arrival of the BRP Jose Rizal) signals the realization of a modern Navy that is capable of imposing the Navy’s territorial defense mandate,” he said in a statement late Saturday.
He added that this is now possible as BRP Jose Rizal, and its sister ship BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) that is slated for delivery late this year, is capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare operations.
Decapia also lauded the Philippine government for standing behind the PN modernization in pursuit of a credible and modern navy.
BRP Jose Rizal was launched at the HHI shipyard in UIsan, South Korea on May 23, 2019 while its sister-ship BRP Antonio Luna, was launched on November 8 of the same year.
The contract for the two ships are placed at PHP16 billion with another PHP2 billion for weapon systems and munitions.
Navy Public Affairs Office chief, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, said the BRP Jose Rizal exchanged communications via radio with World War II-era corvette BRP Quezon (PS-70) when it first entered Philippine waters on May 21.
At the time, BRP Quezon was deployed and patrolling off Mavulis Island, Batanes, she added.
On May 22, Roxas said Naval Forces Northern Luzon welcomed BRP Jose Rizal by rendering a meeting point procedure with its First Patrol Boat division composed of three high-speed naval craft at the vicinity of Bolinao, Pangasinan.
“Later in the afternoon (May 22) BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17) with one Augusta Westland AW- 109 helicopter and C-90 fixed-wing aircraft conducted a meeting procedure with FF-150 along the vicinity of Sta. Cruz, Zambales. It was then escorted by PS-17 to its designated anchorage area (in Subic Bay),” Roxas added.
In the early morning of May 23, the BRP Jose Rizal was accorded the traditional passing honors by BRP Andres Bonifacio and three of the PN’s multi-purpose assault craft (MPACs).
Roxas said the event was captured during the fly-by of two naval helicopters – the PN’s anti-submarine helicopter, the AgustaWestland AW-159 “Wildcat” and an AW-109 “Power” utility helicopter.
While at anchor, the sailing crew will undergo a two-week quarantine in compliance with the strict health protocols being implemented by the Philippine government to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Aboard the ship are 61 PN officers and enlisted personnel along with 23 personnel from HHI and four “owner’s representatives”.
The technical inspection and acceptance of the frigate shall commence after the quarantine period.
A simple arrival and commissioning ceremony is poised to be conducted on June 19 coinciding with the birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal, the ship’s namesake.
BRP Jose Rizal has a maximum designed speed of 25 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles.
It was supposed to be delivered in the last week of April but the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic prompted a reschedule due to travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic. (PNA)