MANILA – Malacañang on Sunday welcomed the historic arrival of the country’s first missile-frigate, the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), as a “breakthrough” in the Philippines’ naval force.
“We consider this a breakthrough in the Philippine Navy’s transformation journey in our goal of building a strong and credible maritime force,” Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Roque pointed out that the arrival of the missile-capable frigate is a testament to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s commitment to modernize the country’s armed forces.
“This forms part of the national leadership’s initiative to enhance the country’s defense capabilities to secure our seas against current threats,” he said.
In a separate statement, Offshore Combat Force head, Commodore Karl Decapia said the BRP Jose Rizal “signals the realization of a modern Navy that is capable of imposing the Navy’s territorial defense mandate.”
BRP Jose Rizal arrived in Subic Bay, Zambales on Saturday (May 23) after a five-day voyage from Ulsan, South Korea.
It was supposed to be delivered in the last week of April but the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic prompted a reschedule due to travel restrictions.
The missile-capable frigate is capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare operations.
It has a maximum designed speed of 25 knots and a cruising speed of 15 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles.
The Navy only has two large missile-armed warships so far in its fleet. The second frigate, the BRP Antonio Luna, is expected to be delivered late this year.
Both are manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in South Korea.
While at anchor, the sailing crew will undergo a two-week quarantine in compliance with the strict health protocols being implemented by the Philippine government to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aboard the ship are 61 PN officers and enlisted personnel along with 23 personnel from HHI and four “owner’s representatives”.
The technical inspection and acceptance of the frigate shall commence after the quarantine period.
An arrival and commissioning ceremony is poised to be conducted on June 19 coinciding with the birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal, the ship’s namesake. (ia/PNA)