BRP Alcaraz to patrol West Philippine Sea
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 6, 2013 - 5:35pm

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the warship acquired recently by the Philippines from the United States (US), would boost efforts to secure the country’s territory including areas in the West Philippine Sea, officials said.

Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano confirmed that the ship would conduct patrols in the West Philippine Sea, the subject of a territorial row in the region.

“That (West Philippine Sea) would be part of the areas that we will be able to secure but not limited to that,” Alano said during the arrival ceremony for the ship held here on Tuesday.

Alano said the acquisition of the vessel had provided a “significant boost” to the military’s capability to keep the Philippines’ archipelagic waters safe.

“It (BRP Alcaraz) would enable us to patrol our waters, provide territorial defense and maritime security and address humanitarian assistance and disasters,” the Navy chief said.

To enable it to perform its mission, the ship would be provided with weapons to increase its security capabilities.

Alano did not say what armaments would be installed in the ship, but a Navy source said these include a bushmaster autocannon, a .50 caliber machine gun and M60 light machine gun.

Alano previously said that the BRP Alcaraz would be accompanied by naval helicopters once it patrols the country’s territorial waters.

“We have a very large area. With the helicopters, we will have moving platforms which can be like a moving base. The helicopters can extend the range of our surveillance capability,” he said in a recent interview in Camp Aguinaldo.

The helicopters, Alano said, would form part of a strategy that aims to improve their maritime situational awareness.

The Navy is acquiring five AW 109 Power helicopters from Anglo-Italian firm AugustaWestland for P1.3 billion.

The air assets will be delivered in two batches. The first batch consists of three new helicopters and will be delivered in December.

President Aquino led the arrival ceremony for the BRP Alcaraz, which arrived in the Philippines after a voyage from the US that lasted for about two months.

The 45-year-old ship was acquired from the US Coast Guard to beef up the Navy’s maritime domain awareness. It is manned by 88 officers and enlisted personnel.

The BRP Alcaraz, affectionately called “Monching” by the Navy, is the second warship acquired from the US, the first being BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which was commissioned in 2011.

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 decades-old ship was formerly known as US Coast Guard Cutter Dallas and was transferred to the Philippines as an excess defense article.

It is a 3,250 ton frigate equipped with two 3,000 horsepower diesel engines that could attain longer sustainable speed of more than 15 knots. The ship also has two 18,000 horsepower gas turbines that could propel the ship at a speed of more than 25 knots for urgent situations.

The BRP Alcaraz has a flight deck and an extendable hangar that could accommodate a helicopter for an extensive maritime patrol.

ALANO ALCARAZ BRP CAMP AGUINALDO COAST GUARD COAST GUARD CUTTER DALLAS COMMODORE RAMON ALCARAZ JOSE LUIS ALANO SHIP WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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