Next PH navy ship from US has $1.8-M weapons
MANILA, Philippines - Modern weapons systems worth $1.8 million (Php 74.2 million) will be installed on the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the latest refurbished navy ship the Philippines recently acquired from the United States.
The Alcaraz, the second Hamilton-class cutter the country has acquired from the US, will be fitted with two Mk38 Mod 2 autocannon systems as part of a US$24-million (P988 million) contract the Pentagon awarded to BAE Systems Land and Armaments Inc., the Philippine Embassy said in a statement Saturday, October 27.
The contract for the Kentucky-based BAE Systems involves the purchase of 21 units of the remotely controlled naval gun systems and spare parts for both the US and Philippine navies," the embassy said, quoting Capt. Elson Aguilar, Naval Attache at the Office of the Defense and Armed Forces Attache at the Philippine Embassy.
The Alcaraz was first commissioned in 1968 as the USCGC Dallas. It was decommissioned and turned over to the Philippines last May, and is currently being refurbished and refitted at a cost of $15.15 million (P618 million).
The Mk38 Mod 2 is a gun system designed to counter high-speed maneuvering surface targets, commissioned by the US Navy after the USS Cole attack back in 2000.
The system replaces the older Mk38 M242 Bushmasters, which were part of the ship prior to turnover to the Philippines, said the Embassy release.
It will also be fitted into the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the other high-endurance cutter acquired from the US Navy, but will be covered by a separate contract.
"The Mk38 Mod 2 will allow the Alcaraz and the Del Pilar to track and fire at targets automatically in both day and night using single shot, low speed or high-speed automatic fire," Aguilar was quoted as saying. The autocannon can also be manually operated.
Alcaraz, currently moored in Charleston in South Carolina, is awaiting general overhaul of the engine and navigational equipment. It will take at least 11 weeks from start to finish.
The ship's crew of 88 (14 officers and 74 enlisted personnel) are also being trained by the US Coast Guard's Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston.
The two ships are part of the Excess Defense Article and Military Assistance Program. Del Pilar was delivered back in May 2011.
Aguilar added the two ships can be used for extended patrols and can withstand heavy weather and rough seas.
"The Alcaraz was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Philippine Navy officer, who distinguished himself during the Second World War when the patrol boat he commanded was credited for shooting down three Japanese aircraft," the Embassy said.
Meanwhile, the Del Pilar, so far the country's largest and fastest ship, was recently involved in the Scarborough Shoal standoff. - Rappler.com
US$ 1 = Php 41.20 as of Sunday, October 28