MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – President Benigno Aquino formally witnessed the docking of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the newest military acquisition of the Philippine government, at Pier 13 of the South Harbor in Manila on Tuesday.
In his speech, Aquino said the docking of the Hamilton class warship represents the renewed strength of the country’s Armed Forces towards protecting its coastlines and assets.
He assured the Armed Forces that the government will not stop in the acquisition of ships, helicopters and patrol crafts.
The vessel sailed for 33 days from California to the Philippines. It arrived in the country’s waters late Wednesday last week.
The vessel was transferred to the Philippine Navy just last May. The vessel, which was first commissioned by the US in 1967, departed San Francisco last July 18. It was manned by 13 officers and 82 enlisted personnel under Captain Alberto Cruz.
The main purpose of the ship is to defend the territory, particularly the exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea or South China Sea, particularly in the Spratlys area.
The Hamilton replaces the Raja Humabon, a Cannon-class destroyer escort, which is probably one of the world’s oldest warships.
The vessel has gone through several wars including the Vietnam War, and led in the US narcotics operations in the Panama Canal.
It is believed that the ship was used for the largest drug bust in US history, where an estimated $600 million worth of cocaine was seized.
The machines of BRP Gregorio del Pilar have already been overhauled and refurbished.
Due to its classification as a weather high endurance cutter, its secondary roles will be in support for search and rescue. - with reports from Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News