11 Juni 2013

BRP Ramon Alcaraz Sets Sail to Philippines

11 Juni 2013

BRP Ramon Alcaraz PF-16 (photo : Benjamin Apostol)

BRP Ramon Alcaraz sets sail for PHL Monday

MANILA  (PNA) -- The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), the Navy's second Hamilton-class cutter, started its voyage home to the country on Monday (Philippine time) morning.

This was revealed by the Philippine Embassy in Washington.

"BRP Ramon Alcaraz (is) all set for its voyage home to the Philippines on Monday morning," it said.

The ship's 14 officers and 74 crewmen is headed by Navy Capt. Ernesto Baldovino.

Last May, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz started sea trials as part of preparations for its trip to the Philippines.

The vessel had been refurbished and refitted at a cost of USD15.15 million in the US since it was acquired by the Philippines in May 2012.

Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, Philippine Navy (PN) spokesperson, said that ship will head for Florida shortly after leaving Charleston, South Carolina.

"She will be test firing her guns ( a 76-mm Oto Melara auto-cannon and two Mark 38 25-mm automatic cannons) while sailing to Florida," he added.

He declined to state what other armaments the BRP Ramon Alcaraz is carrying but stressed that she is more heavily-armed that her sister ship, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15), another Hamilton class cutter acquired in 2011.

After that, Fabic said the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will proceed to San Diego, California and will then make stopovers in Hawaii and Guam before making her final run home to the Philippines.

The Filipino warship will be running at 12 knots, her effective cruising, as it is the most economical for the engines.

The vessel has a designed speed of 29 knots.

Fabic said the PN expects the BRP Ramon Alcaraz to be in the Philippines by first week of August and to be commissioned in service by September.

"She will be repainted haze gray and christened anew before being deployed," the PN spokesperson added.

Fabic stated that the BRP Ramon Alcaraz has satisfactorily completed all her sea trials which started last May and ended first week of June.

Fabic earlier said that the vessel can be used as a radar picket by the Philippine Navy (PN) in its efforts to protect the country's extensive maritime domains.

Radar pickets are ships equipped with powerful radar and deployed in the high seas to detect ships or aircraft attempting to violate the country's territories.

"As a platform, radar equipment like that of the littoral observation stations (coast watch stations) can be mounted for wider range data gathering. All of these will be linked in a shore facility for better command and control for effective decision making," he added.

Aside from this capability, Fabic said that the impending arrival of the country's second Hamilton-class cutter will boost the PN's maritime domain awareness capability.

"As an additional asset it will greatly improve our maritime domain/situational awareness (capability) because it's capable of long range deployment," the PN spokesperson added.

Also, since the ship is fitted with hangar facilities, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz can host a naval helicopter that can further extend its monitoring and detection capability.

"Also a helicopter can be launched from the vessel allowing wider and further coverage," Fabic stressed.

The ship is "fully mission capable" on her arrival.

Maritime observers said that this development speak well of the PN's efforts to modernize itself and boost its power projection capabilities.

"With the arrival of our Hamilton-class cutters, which are being converted to frigates, the PN has started its first step in developing its blue-water capability or the ability to detect or engage intruders in the high seas," they added.

At present, the PN is rated only as coastal protection naval force and nothing else.

The ex-USS Dallas was a high endurance cutter commissioned in 1967 at the Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans.

She was the sixth ship or boat to bear the name of Alexander J. Dallas, the Secretary of the Treasury under President James Madison (1814–1816).

The ship is one of twelve Hamilton class cutters built for the US Coast Guard.

It weighs 3,250 tons, has a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet.

Its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

The ship has cruising range of 14,000 miles and has a sea and loiter time of 45 days. 

(PNA)

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