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New Phl warship to have anti-submarine gizmos

In this May 20, 2012 file photo, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF16) of the Philippine Navy leaves the pier at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in North Charleston, South Carolina. The vessel, the second high-endurance cutter the Philippines acquired from the United States, is expected to set sail for Manila in June. PHILIPPINE EMBASSY PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The country's newly acquired Hamilton class-cutter warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) will be equipped with an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability that can track and destroy enemy submarines, a Philippine Navy official said Wednesday.

Navy spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Gregory Fabic said that plans have been drawn to equip the Alcaraz, which recently completed sea trials off North Charleston, South Carolina, with weapons and technology against submersible warships.

"ASW capability will be installed on the ship and (a) helicopter will be assigned to it," Fabic said, explaining that a chopper will widen the warship's monitoring and detection coverage.

The anti-submarine technology in modern warfare typically includes different types of sensors, depth charges, mines, torpedoes and missiles.

The Alcaraz, formerly known as USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716) of the United States Coast Guard since 1968, was acquired by the Philippines in March and is being refurbished to set sail for its new home in mid-June.

Fabic added that the Alcaraz will boost the Navy's maritime domain awareness, or the effective understanding of things, vessels and areas within the country's coastal borders.

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"As an additional asset, (the warship) will greatly improve our maritime domain or situational awareness (capability) because it is capable of long-range deployment," the Navy official added.

Besides these given capabilities, Fabic said  the watercraft's platform can also be mounted with radar equipment 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.

The new combat ship is also believed to be carrying a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, two 25 Bushmaster guns and assorted machine guns.

Besides having defense against submarines, the Alcaraz may also be carrying a harpoon anti-ship missile system designed to defend it from enemy surface vessels, according to previous reports.

Together, the Alcaraz and another newly commissioned warship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar which arrived late last year, comprise the country's "first step" toward having the ability to detect and engage intruders in high seas, Fabic said.

Upon arrival, the Alcaraz will already be "fully mission capable," he concluded.

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