MANILA – The delivery of the country’s first-ever frigate, BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), might be delayed due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, the chief of the Philippine Navy (PN) said Sunday.
Navy flag-officer-in-command Rear Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said the members of the Technical Inspection and Acceptance Committee (TIAC), who will check and certify as fit for service the various systems and components of the ship, need to comply with South Korea’s mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival for all incoming travelers.
While the ruling is reasonable due to the Covid-19 crisis, Bacordo said this will make it difficult for TIAC members to proceed with their business.
“Let’s say that a TIAC member is going in South Korea for three days (for technical inspection) and upon arrival there, he will have to go on a two-week quarantine, how can you conduct a TIAC on that,” he said in a media interview.
South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries has earlier vowed to deliver the BRP Jose Rizal by the third week of April or five months earlier than its planned September delivery schedule.
Currently, the ship is largely complete and has undergone its various sea trials.
Another problem caused by Covid-19 is that Navy personnel who are supposed to undergo training on the various systems of the ship, including its weapons, can’t go to South Korea due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Part of the contract states that the original equipment manufacturers are supposed to train PN personnel but due to (Covid-19 situation), so what will (probably) happen is that training will start once the ship is delivered here,” Bacordo said.
BRP Jose Rizal has a maximum designed speed of 25 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles. The ship was launched at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan May 23, 2019.
The contract for the BRP Jose Rizal and its sister ship, the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), is placed at PHP16 billion with another PHP2 billion for weapon systems and munitions.
These ships are capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare operations. (PNA)