Navy flagship gets major upgrades

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Modernization spree With the support of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine Navy continues to pursue its modernization program. As part of this effort, its flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar is set to get communications and weapon and fire control upgrades. ROY PELOVELLO

The Philippine Navy (PN) yesterday said its flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar will undergo various communications, weapons and fire-control upgrades while undergoing repair for the damages sustained when it was grounded at Hasa-Hasa (Half-Moon) Shoal last 29 August.

“Del Pilar is still undergoing bottom hull repairs and will be undocked as soon as repairs have been completed. Propellers and related underwater appendages will be shipped to the US for repairs,” Navy spokesman Commander Jonathan Zata said.

“While awaiting the completion of those repairs, she will undergo communications and weapon and fire control upgrades in order to optimize her downtime period,” he added.

Zata said the frigate will be back in operation shortly after the new equipment, sourced abroad, have arrived.

The warship was conducting a patrol mission when its starboard side hit a submerged feature in Hasa-Hasa Shoal, some 60 miles off Bataraza town in Palawan.

It was eventually pulled clear from Hasa-Hasa Shoal last 3 September and towed to Subic Bay, Zambales, arriving there on 7 September.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar is one of three Hamilton-class cutters the PN acquired from the United States Coast Guard and converted into frigates.

These ships have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet and draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

With a cruising range of 14,000 miles, these types of vessels have a sea and loiter time of 45 days and armed with a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25mm and 20mm light cannons and .50-caliber machineguns.

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