New Philippine warship test-fires main gun

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Jun 12 2013 08:04 PM | Updated as of Jun 13 2013 04:10 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines' new naval warship, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, fired its main weapons system in the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday, the Philippine Embassy in the United States said.

Capt. Ernesto Baldovino, commanding officer of the Alcaraz, said the ship successfully fired its OTO Melara 76 mm naval artillery gun "with a high degree of accuracy."

"This weapons system is very reliable," he said, in an embassy statement.

Baldovino, in a report to Capt. Elson Aguilar, Defense and Naval Attache at the embassy, said the ship's rapid-fire cannon, which can shoot as many as 80 rounds per minute, fired 15 rounds.

Three shots were used to calibrate the gun and 12 were aimed at floating targets two to three miles away.

"Captain Baldovino was more than satisfied with how the Oto Melara performed," Aguilar said.

Countries in Asia that have warships armed with OTO Melara naval guns include Indonesia, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore.

Defense sources said the cutter will also be fitted with anti-ship Harpoon missiles.

"Her weapons system is heavier and more sophisticated compared to her sister ship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar," one source said.

The Alcaraz is also armed with M242 Bushmaster guns and heavy machineguns.

The Philippine Navy's new warship, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz. Photo courtesy of Consul Elmer Cato/Philippine Embassy, Washington, DC

The Alcaraz, a cutter that previously served in the US Coast Guard, was bought and refurbished by the Philippines.

Alcaraz weighs 3,250 tons, has a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet.

Its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.

When deployed, the Alcaraz, with a total of 167 officers and men complement, will have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and can stay in the high seas for 45 days.

The ship is now proceeding to the Panama Canal, its next stop in its almost 2-month journey to the Philippines.

The Alcaraz left Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday, more than a year after it was acquired from the US Coast Guard.

The ship will also make stops in San Diego, Honolulu, and Guam enroute to Manila. - with a report from Don Tagala, ABS CBN North America Bureau