Philippines commissions its first new Jose Rizal-class frigate

The BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) of the Philippine Navy. Photo c/o Philippine Navy.

The Philippine Navy (PN) has commissioned its first ever missile-armed frigate and the lead ship of the Jose Rizal-class frigate, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) during ceremonies held on 10 July 2020 in Subic Bay Freeport north of Manila.

The event was attended by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Amb. Han Dong Man, and Chief of the Philippine Navy Vice Adm. Giovanni Bacordo.

The frigate was built by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), and was delivered in May 2020, and has been formally accepted by the PN during the commissioning ceremonies.

The ship was supposed to have been commissioned on 19 June 2020 during the birth anniversary of its namesake, Philippine national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal. But due to restrictions related to COVID-19 pandemic, it was moved several times.

The BRP Jose Rizal represents a leap in capability of the PN, which until lately was armed only with ships without missile capabilities. The commissioning is also a milestone for the PN as this is its first ever brand new surface combatant, considering its previous assets were mostly former ships of the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and the Royal Navy.

The ship still has some issues to be settled, as HHI failed to have the ship's Combat Management System (CMS) get certification from the US Department of Defense for compatibility with the US Tactical Data Link 16. This is among the project's requirement that has been an issue since 2018.

The South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) as well as HHI made a sovereign guarantee to bankroll and be responsible for settling the Link 16 compatibility, which became a reason for the PN's acceptance of the ship.

A sistership, the Antonio Luna (FF-151) is currently undergoing final fit-out before its scheduled delivery either late 2020 or early 2021.

The Jose Rizal-class are armed with a 76mm Oto Melara Super Rapid naval gun, a 30mm Aselsan SMASH stabilized naval gun, two twin Simbad-RC launchers for the Mistral VSHORAD system, launchers for 4 LIG Nex1 SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles (expandable to 8 missiles), and two triple lightweight anti-submarine torpedo launchers.

It has allocations for an 8-cell vertical launching system (VLS) and a Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), which would be acquired separately.

[1] Philippine Navy
[2] MaxDefense Philippines
Philippines commissions its first new Jose Rizal-class frigate Philippines commissions its first new Jose Rizal-class frigate Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on July 14, 2020 Rating: 5

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