MANILA – The Philippine Navy said the arrival and christening of the two brand-new missile capable Shaldag Mark V (Acero-class patrol gunboats in the PN service) on Monday will greatly boost the service's capability to protect its littoral zones.
The littoral or nearshore is the part of a sea, lake, or river that is close to the shore.
Christening of these two vessels, which were also known as the fast attack interdiction craft missiles (FAIC-Ms), took place at the Naval Shipbuilding Facility Wharf at Fort San Felipe, Cavite City.
"Senate President Hon. Juan Miguel Zubiri witnessed the event as keynote speaker and initiated the traditional breaking of (a) sacrificial bottle on the FAIC-Ms. He was joined by PN chief, Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., and other AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) senior officials, as well as relatives of the vessels' namesakes," Navy spokesperson Captain Benjo Negranza said in a statement.
The FAIC-Ms were christened BRP Gener Tinangag (PG-903) and BRP Domingo Deluana (PG-905). "Said FAIC-Ms, which are part of the nine platforms contracted with Israel Shipyards, arrived from Israel on board the general cargo ship M/V Mick (last April 11) They were unloaded with the assistance of BRP Mamanwa (LC-294) and proceeded to the naval shipyard in Cavite for a series of tests and crew training," Negranza earlier said.
The PN spokesperson added that these ships are a welcome addition to the Navy's capability to secure vital choke points, key sea lines of communication and littoral areas of the country.
Five more are expected to be delivered within the next two years.
The namesake of these vessels are both members of the Philippine Marine Corps and awardees of the Medal of Valor like the first two FAIC-Ms who were commissioned into service last November.
These FAIC-Ms are the BRP Nestor Acero (PG-901) and BRP Lolinato To-Ong.
"Similar to their predecessors in the Acero-class patrol gunboats of the (Philippine) Fleet's Littoral Combat Force, the two new platforms are now bearing the names of BRP Gener Tinangag and BRP Domingo Deluana," Philippine Fleet spokesperson Lt. Giovanni Badidles said.
The BRP Gener Tinangag was named after the Lance Cpl. Gener Tinangag, a assistant Marine rifleman, who rescued four of his wounded comrades and located the remains of the 1st Lt. John Frederick Savellano before being hit and mortally injured by a sniper during the Battle of Marawi in 2017.
Meanwhile, the BRP Domingo Deluana was named for Sgt. Domingo Deluana who was alongside 1st Lt. Lolinato To-Ong in Maguindanao and provided suppressive fire to cover the medical evacuation of wounded fellow Marines until they were hit and killed by RPG blast during the campaign versus the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2000.
Coinciding with the christening of the two ships was the blessing ceremony for upgraded shipbuilding center of the PN, an integral part of the FAIC acquisition project with Israel Shipyards Inc.
The facility will facilitate the transfer of technology to boost the PN's shipbuilding capabilities. Three FAICs are expected to be constructed in this shipyard.
"These activities represent a great stride in the capacity and enhancement and capability of the PN, and a giant leap towards its vision of becoming modern and multi-capable to better protect our seas and secure the Filipino people," Badidles said.
The 32-meter long FAIC-Ms are high-speed vessels equipped with quick intercept ability, remote stabilized weapons, and short-range missiles that are capable of delivering precision strikes against larger hostiles and high-value targets on land and sea.
Four of the FAIC-Ms will be armed with non-line-of-sight (NLOS) missiles with pinpoint accuracy and a range of 25 kilometers while the other five will be armed with Typhoon-mounted 30mm main cannons and .50 caliber heavy machine guns.
The acquisition of these FAIC-Ms is among the 2019 projects approved by former President Rodrigo Duterte under the Horizon 2 List of the AFP Modernization Program. The notice of award for the FAIC-M project, worth around PHP10 billion, was issued on January 5, 2021.
These are expected to replace PN’s medium-sized patrol craft. Once deliveries of the FAIC-Ms are completed, these vessels can interdict surface threats and launch NLOS missiles safely using the surrounding littoral areas as maneuver space and cover.
Earlier, Adaci said the Navy is planning to acquire at least 15 more Israel-made Shaldag Mark V missile boats, which are the basis of its Acero-class patrol gunboats.
He said the additional Acero-class gunboats would help them to meet their requirements in "patrolling the seas of the country".
Adaci also said the FAIC-Ms will be assigned to the Littoral Combat Force. (PNA)