TWO “legacy ships” of the Philippine Navy will be decommissioned today as the vessels have outlived their usefulness with the scheduled arrival of two brand-new frigates this year.
The decommissioning ceremony for patrol ship BRP Rizal and patrol gunboat BRP Nicolas Mahusay will be held at the Naval Base Cavite in Sangley Point, Cavite City.
“The only way to modernize is to retire old capabilities so we can train or capacitate our personnel for new capabilities,” said Navy chief Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad who will lead today’s ceremony.
The two new vessels, BRP Jose Rizal and BRP Antonio Luna, are to be delivered this year by Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea. The firm was tapped to construct the ships for P18 billion under the AFP modernization program.
“We hope to acquire additional Pohang Corvette from ROK (Republic of Korea) Navy,” said Empedrad.
The defense and military establishments have requested the Korean government to donate another corvette, in addition to the now BRP Conrado Yap which the Koreans transferred to the Navy in August last year.
BRP Rizal was acquired by the Philippine Navy from the US in 1965 or 20 years after serving with the US Navy while BRP Mahusay was acquired from South Korea in 1998 or 18 years after it was first commissioned.
“We have to phase out all the old vessels. Where will you get personnel to man these new assets? You have to get them from old assets,” said Rear Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, commander of the Navy’s Philippine Fleet.
“This is part also of the directive of the flag-officer-in-command to decommission all legacy Navy ships. We are already modernizing so if you modernize, you have to remove from your inventory already all the legacy Navy ships,” he added.
Bacordo said the Navy still has dozens of legacy ships in its inventory.
“We are, little by little, removing them for our inventory so that by the first semester of 2021, all our ships are already modern,” he said.
Bacordo said the designed speed of BRP Rizal and BRP Mahusay is 20 knots and 25 knots, respectively. He said the speed of the two ships is now down to 10 to 12 knots and 14 knots, respectively.
He said BRP Rizal’s endurance is now down to seven days, from the original design of 20 days. He did not say how long can BRP Mahusay can stay at sea during continuous operations.