BRP Gregorio del Pilar to be 'available' by yearend

By Priam Nepomuceno

January 9, 2019, 11:02 am

MANILA -- The Philippine Navy (PN) flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), which ran aground off Hasa-Hasa Shoal last August, is expected to be available for operations before the end of 2019.

This was confirmed by Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, PN flag-officer-in-command, during a chance interview shortly after the New Year's Call in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City Tuesday.

This is due to the damage sustained by the ship's two propellers from the grounding which required total replacement.

"Kailangan kasi makuha pa 'yung propellers (sa US) kasi sira 'yung propellers. So magiging available pa siya mga end of the year pa. Kung mapabilis ung pag-deliver ng propellers, then maaayos namin kaagad. But ang magko-control ng work na yan is 'yung (availability) ng propellers. (We need to get the propellers from the US because these were the ones that were damaged. It will be available by yearend. If the delivery of the propellers is hastened, we will be able to fix these immediately. The determining factor of the replacement work is the availability of the propellers)," he added.

For the moment, the patrol and other duties of BRP Gregorio Del Pilar are being carried by her two sister ships, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) and BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17).

"Okay lang naman 'yung dalawa, gumagana naman yung dalawa (These two ships are fine. They are functional). And then this March, makukuha na natin 'yung (we will get the) (Pohang-class) corvette (donated) by South Korea so baka ma-deliver na yun (it might be delivered). Papunta na kasi 'yung personnel natin for (Our personnel will be going there for) training by January, so kung March or April matatapos ('yung training) meron na tayong gagamitin (If the training ends by March or April, we will have something to use)," Empedrad stressed.

Also, the South Korean ship will be coming to the PN with intact guns and sonar detection systems, which are needed badly by the Navy, are included in the transfer, he added.

The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar ran aground off Hasa-Hasa Shoal in Aug. 29 of last year. The ship was pulled clear from Hasa-Hasa Shoal last Sept. 3 and towed to Subic Bay, Zambales on Sept. 7.

The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is one of three Hamilton-class cutters acquired by the PN 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.

These vessels have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and has 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. (PNA)