MANILA, Philippines - Ongoing repairs on the Philippines’ second Hamilton-class cutter will further delay its arrival in the country’s shores.
"The repair is continuing, ongoing. Its new (arrival) schedule is most probably March or early April (next year)," Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said.
The warship was named after war hero Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a distinguished Philippine Navy Officer during the Second World War who was awarded the Silver Star for shooting down three Japanese planes off Bataan in 1942.
The ship was formally transferred to the Philippine government, under its first Filipino Commanding Officer Ernesto Baldovin, last May 22 in South Carolina.
Pama said the warship is still being fitted with a new engine. "The governing (work) is the installation of a new main engine, replacement of one of the engines. That is what's being done now, it’s not yet complete.”
Nonetheless, the delay will allow 90 officers and men of the Philippine Navy will have more time to train in handling the warship, he said.
"Our men are taking advantage of this (delay) to have additional training," said Pama. They are currently being trained by the US Coast Guard in South Carolina, where the warship is docked.
Defense and military officials had said BRP Ramon Alcaraz has a better fire control and weapon systems than the country's first warship also bought from the US.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar arrived in August 2011. It has since been dispatched to the West Philippine Sea.
Pama said BRP Ramon Alcaraz will be “sent where it is needed, just like del Pilar.”
The country is claiming ownership over the West Philippine Sea, which is being questioned by China.