18 Mei 2009
Philippine's Multi Purpose Attack Craft (all photos : Timawa)
THE Philippine Navy is getting three multi-purpose attack ships on Friday during its 111th foundation anniversary, boosting its capability in the fight against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, particularly in the Sulu province.
Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo said the ships, worth P72.7 million each, will be formally turned over by Promtech Corp. to the Navy leadership during the celebration of its anniversary at the Navy headquarters in Manila.
Arevalo said the attack craft has top speed of 40 knots and can make a turn even at a speed of 30 knots.
"It will be armed with machine guns and it can carry as much as 20 fully-armed personnel," he said.
After their inauguration, Arevalo said two of the attack ships will be deployed in Sulu where Abu Sayyaf bandits are still holding Italian Eugenio Vagni, one of the three original hostages from the International Committee of the Red Cross who were snatched last January in Patikul.
The two other hostages, a Filipina and a Swiss, were released within days of each other last April.
Arevalo, who is the military’s spokesman on the four-month hostage crisis, said the troops in Sulu need such an asset. "This is where these will be tested because these sea craft are really fast," he said.
The third attack craft, Arevalo said, will be sent to augment the capability of the Navy unit that is securing the Malampaya natural gas project off Palawan.
Arevalo said the acquisition of the three attack craft is part of the Navy’s modernization program. He said a number of projects are already in the pipeline, including the procurement of a multi-role vessel.
"This multi-purpose vessel will serve as our launching platform, it will have helicopters on board, rigid inflatable boats inside and it can also carry armor assets like tanks. In short, this will be sort of a mother ship," he said.
Arevalo, however, could not immediately say how much such a multi-role mother ship will cost the Navy or when it will be acquired. "We have no timetable yet when it is arriving but definitely, we will buy one," he said. – (Victor Reyes)