Philippine Navy chief confirms flagship out of service until year end

The Philippine Navy frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15) as of 30 August 2018, as it was stranded in Half Moon Shoal while en route to its base in Palawan. Photo c/o Philippine Navy. 

The Philippine Navy's Flag Officer in Command (FOIC), Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad confirmed that its fleet flagship, the Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15) is expected to be non-operational until year end.

This is due to the ship's propellers needing replacement after they were damaged when the frigate ran aground on Half Moon Shoal (known as Hasa-Hasa Shoal in the Philippines) last 29 August 2018 after patrols in the contested waters of the South China Sea. She was pulled-out of the shoal by 4 September 2018, and pulled to Subic Bay for repairs.

According to Vice Adm. Empedrad, the delivery of the propellers might take time as it would be coming in from the US. No specific or estimated date was provided on when the said propellers would arrive.

In a post made by Filipino defense page MaxDefense Philippines, it mentioned that the ship already underwent repairs on minor hull damages, and was already out of dry dock as it await for the needed parts. It also mentioned that the ship, including its sister-ships BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) and BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) are scheduled to undergo upgrades of their sensor systems, and may also be needed to have dry dock downtime once implemented.

It was confirmed that the US Navy's Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is involved in the repair works of the ship, as it is covered by the PMS 326 International Fleet Support Program.

The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is the first Hamilton-class high endurance cutter received by the Philippines from the US Coast Guard, and is formerly known as the USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715). It was handed over to the Philippine Navy on May 2011, and was commissioned in December 2011. Collectively, the 3 Del Pilar-class frigates are considered as the most capable ships of the Philippine Navy, while it arrives for the delivery of 2 brand new frigates from South Korea, as well as donated Pohang-class corvette provided by the South Korean government.

[1] Philippine Daily Inquirer
[2] ABS-CBN News
[3] MaxDefense Philippines
[4] US Navy NAVSEA

Philippine Navy chief confirms flagship out of service until year end Philippine Navy chief confirms flagship out of service until year end Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on January 09, 2019 Rating: 5

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