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Arrival of new Phl warship delayed

MANILA, Philippines - The arrival of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the second warship acquired by the Philippines from the United States, has been moved to August due to the need to conduct more training for its crew.

Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said yesterday that the training of Filipino sailors and the refurbishment of the vessel are still ongoing.

“Their trainings are extensive, training in terms of equipment and shipboard evolution. The travel time takes about two months so it will arrive in August,” Fabic said in Filipino.

Defense officials previously said the BRP Alcaraz would arrive in the country by January or February this year. The schedule was pushed back to April, with officials citing the same reason – the need for Navy personnel to undergo training.

Fabic noted that the use of the ship’s equipment requires technical knowledge.

“The (pieces of) equipment are sophisticated like those used for navigation, fire control,” he said.

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BRP Alcaraz was acquired from the US Coast Guard, after the acquisition of BRP Gregorio del Pilar in 2011, and was largely used for drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement and search and rescue.

The acquisition of the naval assets was intended to enhance the military’s maritime defense capability.

Security officials bared plans to fast-track the military’s upgrade program amid efforts by China to shore up its presence in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Officials, however, maintain that the upgrade efforts are not directed against any country.

BRP Alcaraz can accommodate up to 180 officers and sailors. The vessel was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Navy officer who commanded a patrol boat that shot three Japanese aircraft during World War II.

The government spent more than P600 million to acquire the ship.

The defense department plans to acquire two more warships within the first quarter.

Among the countries that are ready to provide defense assets are US, Italy, South Korea, Spain, Israel, Croatia and Australia.

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