BRP Jose Rizal. (File photo courtesy of Naval Public Affairs Office)

MANILA – BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), the country’s first missile-frigate, and its crew would use the two-week “Rim of the Pacific” (RIMPAC) exercises as its “shakedown cruise” where its performance would be tested.

“We can say it as part of the ‘shakedown cruise’ where we can test the seaworthiness and performance of FF-150 while the ship is still under warranty,” Philippine Navy (PN) public affairs office chief Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas said in a message late Wednesday when asked why the ship was selected to participate in the exercises.

A shakedown cruise allows the crew to familiarize themselves aboard a new vessel and to ensure all of the ship’s systems are functional.

“Other than that, it is a chance for the officers and crew to work as a team since most of the time they are conducting individual training. This time one ship, one team. Through this exercise, they will be able to conduct and function as a whole team of FF-150,” Roxas added.

The ship has a crew of 65 and is commanded by Captain Jerry Garrido. RIMPAC 2020 is slated for August 17 to 31 off the waters of Hawaii.

BRP Jose Rizal is scheduled to depart the Philippines by July 29 to 30 to participate in the biennial maneuvers described as the largest maritime warfare exercise in the world.

“(The) RIMPAC (exercises) is a multi-dimensional training exercises so, it means it is our chance to level up our engagement in this four-dimension warfare. Having this exercise for FF-150, it is an opportunity now that we have this capability in our inventory,” Roxas said.

Also, she said BRP Jose Rizal will be sailing alone for these exercises as the majority of PN ships are currently involved in supporting government efforts in containing the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) threat.

Meanwhile, Roxas said the ship will not include its AgustaWestland AW-159 “Wildcat” anti-submarine helicopter for RIMPAC 2020 as its crew is still undergoing training which was disrupted by the Taal Volcano eruption and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

For its RIMPAC deployment, an AW-109 “Power” utility helicopter will be aboard, she added.

The Navy’s two AW-159 anti-submarine helicopters were delivered in May of last year and are worth PHP5.4 billion including its munition and mission-essential equipment.

The handover, christening, and commissioning ceremonies for the BRP Jose Rizal will be held at the Alava Wharf in Subic Bay, Zambales on Friday afternoon.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will grace the handover and christening ceremonies while President Rodrigo Duterte will serve as the guest of honor and speaker at the commissioning ceremony.

BRP Jose Rizal arrived in Subic Bay, Zambales last May 23 after leaving Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea last May 18.

The ship is capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare operations.

BRP Jose Rizal was launched at the HHI shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea on May 23, 2019. (PNA)