31 Juli 2015
MRRV for PCG was designed by Marubeni (image : Marubeni)
The Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project took a major step forward after the government awarded a contract to a Japanese shipbuilder for ten 44m patrol boats.
With 7,107 islands and 10.2% of the world’s coastline the Philippines faces daunting challenges such as human trafficking, illegal fishing, pollution, criminal activity, piracy, terrorism and smuggling. Oil companies estimate US$500 million annually is lost to smuggling.
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) ordered the vessels from Japan Marine United (JMU) on 4 June. Jun Abaya, the DOTC secretary, declared, ‘These ten new vessels will help the coast guard in its functions of maritime law enforcement, search-and-rescue operations, and upholding maritime security within Philippines seas.’
Considering that the PCG surface fleet currently comprises only 22 vessels, these new Multi-Role Response Vessels (MRRV) will contribute greatly to a more rapid response to maritime security incidents.
The PCG told Shephard: ‘With the increasing volume of maritime traffic and trade the risk of maritime incidents has likewise risen proportionately. With increasing commerce and movement of people, the probability of crime on the high seas also threatens the country’s security and the safety of various stakeholders.’
The PCG said the new MRRVs will be used as primary rescue vessels, marine environment protection, enforcing maritime laws (e.g. illegal fishing and sea patrols), disaster relief operations and transportation. They will be stationed in Manila, La Union and Puerto Princesa amongst other PCG bases.
The ten boats and associated spare parts will be delivered over a 24-month period beginning in late August 2016. Being implemented as an Official Development Assistance project, the procurement is being funded under a $161.7 million loan by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, with the Philippine government investing the balance of $31.5 million.
The PCG boats are manned by 25 crewmen, and an artist’s depiction indicates the design is based on the Bizan class used by the Japan Coast Guard (JCG). Powered by two MTU 12V 4000 M93L engines, the MRRV’s cruising speed is 15 knots and it has a range of 1,500 nautical miles. JMU has extensive experience building vessels for the JCG, while Marubeni Corporation will assist their introduction into the PCG.
The PCG possesses 7,590 uniformed personnel and 287 civilians. The organisation acknowledged to Shephard it has a ‘formidable task of protecting the country’s maritime jurisdiction and economic interests…In internal challenges we have limited numbers of surface and air assets and limited numbers of personnel.’
The PCG plans to recruit 1,000 personnel in 2015 to man vessels and field stations, as well as acquire two new helicopters.