World / Asia-Pacific

Philippine govt to get second US ship

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-05-08 17:41

MANILA - The second Hamilton class cutter from the United States, which is expected to boost the capability of the Philippine Navy, will be turned over to the Philippine government later this month.

Navy chief Vice Adm. Alexander Pama said on Tuesday the second weather high-endurance cutter decommissioned by the US Coast Guard will have to undergo repairs before it is deployed.

"It's practically academic, but the scheduled turnover is (May) 22 or 23, thereabouts," Pama told reporters in a phone patch interview.

Upon turnover, Pama said the ship will go to the US where it will have its fourth engine replaced. Filipino sailors will also have to undergo training on how to handle or operate the ship.

Pama estimated that the ship will arrive in the Philippines in November and will be commissioned in December after it undergoes repainting.

President Benigno Aquino III said the second Hamilton class ship will be named BRP Ramon Alcaraz. Ramon Alcaraz was a Navy commodore who commanded one of the three torpedo boats of the country, called Q-boats, that downed three Japanese "Zero" fighters.

The first Hamilton class cutter, acquired from the US by the Philippines last year, is now known as the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. The ship was later assigned to protect the country's interest in the South China Sea.

Pama said the Philippine Navy would have to spend about 400 million pesos (9.43 million US dollars) to acquire the second Hamilton class cutter. The Philippine government spent almost the same amount for the acquisition of BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

The first Hamilton class cutter had been stripped of key equipment, like radar, before its transfer to the Philippines, prompting the military to appeal to the US to include such equipment in the transfer of the second ship.

Pama, however, said the US did not agree to the Philippine government's request to retain vital equipment in the second Hamilton class cutter.

The Philippine Navy also did not say where the second US ship will be deployed.

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