BRP Tarlac (LD-601) (photo : batita)
Weapons will be fitted to the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), the country's first strategic sealift vessel (SSV), to give the latter the capability to defend itself against possible threats.
At the moment, the Philippine Navy (PN) is now evaluating appropriate weapons systems for the 7,300 gross ton ship.
"We’re still looking at the design and the appropriate weapons to be attached to this vessel. Definitely we’re going to put weapons system in this particular vessel," Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado said.
But since the BRP Tarlac is designated as a SSV, he stressed that whenever it goes on patrol or deployment, the PN's largest ship will be provided "force protection by our combat ships."
These escorting vessels will be provided by the PN's offshore combat force, he said.
"But definitely we’ll put in weapons systems, (so) at the very least she is able to defend herself," he said.
BRP Tarlac left the Surabaya shipyard of PT PAL (Persero) on May 9. She arrived in Manila Bay after a five-day voyage last May 14.
She can carry 500 troops at one time along with two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two landing craft units and three helicopters.
She also has minimum operating range of 7,500 nautical miles and a complement of 121 officers and enlisted personnel.
The BRP Tarlac is one of the two SSVs acquired from PT PAL (Persero) for the a total of PHP3.8 billion.
The Filipino SSV was patterned after the Indonesian Makassar-class landing platform dock. Her sister-ship is expected to be delivered by May 2017.
BRP Tarlac has an overall length of 120 meters,breadth of 21 meters, draft of five meters and can carry a payload of 2,800 tons. (PNA)
BRP Tarlac (LD-601) (photo : gma)
The acquisition and eventual deployment of the country's first strategic sealift vessel (SSV) is part of the Philippine Navy (PN) to transform itself into a "blue-water navy".
The latter refers to a maritime force capable of operating across the deep waters of open oceans.
This was disclosed by Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado shortly after the welcoming ceremonies for BRP Tarlac, the country's first SSV, at Pier 13, South Harbor, Manila Monday afternoon.
"Modernization (is) transforming the Navy from (a) coastal (defense force) to (one capable of conducting) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) patrols. (Acquisition of SSVs and other modern ships) is our venture to becoming a blue-water navy," he added.
EEZ is a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over which a state has special rights regarding the exploration and use of marine resources, including energy production from water and wind.
It stretches from the baseline out to 200 nautical miles from its coast.
As this develops, Mercado said the PN is still looking at designs of possible weapons to install at BRP Tarlac.
He also assured the public that the ship will be given a self-defense capability despite the fact it will be always be escorted by at least one major surface unit when on deployment.
The SSVs are a multi-role vessel and very useful for humanitarian and disaster relief missions and can be transformed to a floating government center if required.
The SSV acquisition project for the PN was initiated upon the approval of Acquisition Decision Memorandum Number 2012-060 by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin last Oct. 30, 2013.
Furthermore, these vessels are critical assets for civil-military operations due to their capability of transporting large number of soldiers, logistics, and supplies.
Moreover, each SSV has the capacity to house three helicopters. The Navy’s Augusta Westland-109s are programmed to be on-board components of these vessels.
These forthcoming landing platform dock strategic sealift vessels will improve the transport capability of the PN and boost the defense capabilities of the country. (PNA)