24 Mei 2011
Hamilton Class (photo : Coast Guard)
AFP to acquire 2 more modern seacraft from US
THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is seriously considering the acquisition of two more modern large Hamilton-class patrol crafts to shore up its naval defense capabilities and aptly defend the country’s 200-mile exclusive zone from foreign intruders, particularly in the disputed Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea.
The AFP spokesman, Commodore Juan Miguel Rodriguez, disclosed yesterday that the plan had already been discussed by top military officials even as formal communications have yet to be made to the President and as well as to the US government, which is offering the Hamiltons to the world market.
“I’m sure that it has already been discussed. The United States is offering the Hamiltons there in the world market,” Rodriguez said.
As far as Malacanang is concerned, Rodriguez expressed confidence that the President would give his support to the plan of the AFP.
He added that while the AFP has to compete with other interested bidders, the Philippines would most likely get it has already acquired the first Hamilton that the US Navy has put on sale.
“There is a bigger chance that they would be given to us,” Rodriguez said.
Maintenance wise, Rodriguez explained that it become much stronger and economical when the Navy have two or three of them.
“Because if you have different ships you have logistical nightmare in terms of supplies, etcetera. So the commonality of spares will dictate by pure logic that if you did three or four ships, it’s best if you hav the same types,” he added.
Rodriguez also pointed out that the Philippine-US relations would also be a factor in the acquisition of additional Hamiltons, saying that “as mutual defense treaty partners, I would believe that hey would give a preference to their treaty partners.”
The first Hamilton has already been turned over by the US Coast Guard to the Philippine representatives in simple ceremonies held at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, California last May 13 and would be due for arrival on August.
A step towards the Vessel’s commissioning here in the country, the official name of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton was changed Friday to “Ex-Hamilton” with Philippine Ambassador to the
Transfer cost was pegged at P450M, while operational cost for two years is estimated at P120 million.
Funding will come from the Department of Energy (DOE) considering that the vessel is projected to be employed for the security of oil platforms and oil explorations activities in Palawan and Sulu Sea.
The Filipino crew of the first Hamilton has by far been on training since February this year in the U.S which will last until June 30 prior to installation of a Coast Watch System equipment in July.
“We will continue to modernize your Armed Forces. The addition of the vessel to the Navy’s inventory will definitely boost our capability to protect our Exclusive Economic Zone and improve our border patrol capability”, AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo SL Oban Jr. said.