BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), the Pohang-class warship donated by South Korea to the Philippines, will be deployed to patrol in the West Philippine Sea and Benham Rise.
Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Roberto Empedrad said their first modern corvette is now heading to Manila after leaving South Korea on August 12.
Empedrad said the “most powerful warship” will boost the country’s naval anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
“BRP Conrado Yap is on her way home all the way from South Korea. She will be patrolling our maritime waters, and I can say that this is one of the most powerful ships of the navy. More ships and planes will come as we enhance the capability of the Navy,” Empedrad said during the 42nd Anniversary Celebration of the Naval Forces West (NFW) on Thursday in Barangay Macarascas.
Commissioned as Chungju into the Republic of Korea Navy (RKN), the warship left Jinhae Naval Base in Changwon City to sail to the Philippines.
Empedrad said it is manned by 100 sailors of the PN who also underwent a 13-week operational and warfare training in South Korea under the command of Capt. Marco Buena.
It measures 88.3 meters long with a 10-meter beam, a draft of 2.9 meters with displacement at 1,216 tons full load, rated for a crew of 118 personnel, and can sustain operational presence for 20 days.
The ship is armed with two Oto Melara 76mm main guns, a 30mm automatic cannon, anti-submarine torpedoes and a variety of sensors, including sonars, and radars.
Empedrad said two more newly-acquired missile-armed frigates, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and sister ship BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) will arrive on April and September 2020, respectively.
These two ships, he said, are equipped with a variety of weapons, sensors, capable of detecting water and air surface, multi-dimensional ships and surface missiles.
“Ang tatlong barko natin na ito will be deployed to secure our maritime waters whether West Philippine Sea or Philippine Rise. Mahalaga ang mga areas na ‘yan kaya kailangan na bantayan at isa pa this three big ships ay hindi basta-bastang malulubog kahit seven meters ang taas ng alon, they can stand in a very rough sea. This is very significant, papalakasin natin ang ating marine forces,” Empedrad said.
He said the P16 billion contract for the frigates was awarded to Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) with another P2 billion set aside for their weapon systems and ammunition.
He added that the acquisition of new equipment and assets are part of the modernization program of the national government.
“Bago lang tayo magkakaroon ng ganitong barko although may missiles na tayo pero itong dalawang barko natin na ito ay kaya niyang tirahin ang target kahit around 300 kilometers away,” he said.