MANILA, Phippines – A Hamilton-class warship that the country will use to protect its borders will finally arrive in the country’s waters late Wednesday.
Navy Spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay said the ship, which was named BRP Gregorio del Pilar, was 273 nautical miles east of Samar as of 2:30 p.m. today.
The ship, which was purchased early this year, will dock at the Manila Bay on Sunday at 8:00 a.m.
The vessel, which was first commissioned by the US in 1967, departed San Francisco last July 18. It is manned by 13 officers and 82 enlisted personnel under Captain Alberto Cruz.
Tonsay said: “As a multi-mission vessel, (BRP) del Pilar will be primarily for Philippine Navy maritime security and sovereign patrols especially upon its deployment at the Malampaya project, west of Palawan. Due to its classification as a weather high endurance cutter, its secondary roles will be in support for search and rescue.”
The ship will be repainted with gray color. It is currently colored white.
The ship will also be fitted with additional capabilities. “There are armaments on board right now but I understand that we also have plans to include [more] armaments…[We will install] additional facilities and capabilities but there are existing [ones] already there,” Navy Philippine Fleet deputy spokesman Lt. Rommel Rodriguez said.
“We are excited about her arrival. [The] deployment is flexible depending on the operational plan but she will help a lot in protecting our off shore resources by increased maritime domain awareness and added response capability,” said AFP spokesman Commodore Miguel Jose Rodriguez.
Some military officials said the cutter is needed to help protect the country’s interest in the dispute at the West Philippine Sea, or the South China Sea.
The Hamilton replaces the Raja Humabon, a Cannon-class destroyer escort, which is probably one of the world’s oldest warships.