MANILA, Philippines – Australian shipbuilding firm Austal, which has a unit in Cebu, is looking to enter into a contract with the Philippine Navy for 6 offshore patrol vessels (OPVs).
Austal Philippines president and general manager Wayne Murray told reporters during the Australian Business Briefing last Thursday, April 4, that they are already working with the Philippine government to develop the tender documents, or the documents relating to the potential offer.
“The Philippines in the past has typically bought a lot of military vessels from external countries. We’re in a position right now where we can potentially build ships for [the] Philippines’ Navy, built by Filipino workers in the Philippines,” he added.
This also means that the Cebu-based firm can provide lifetime support for the 80-meter-long OPVs, which have an estimated value of $80 million per vessel. (READ: Duterte pivots to China but his military turns to Australia, Japan)
The procurement of 6 OPVs is part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ modernization program. The second phase of the program, which runs from 2018 to 2022, has a budget of P300 billion.
In August 2018, Nikkei reported that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana already said they would be sourcing the 6 OPVs from Austal.
If the contract pushes through, Murray said the OPVs would be the “first significant” military ships to be built in the Philippines, as these vessels can also accommodate helicopter landings and modern weaponry.
“Because it’s an offshore patrol vessel, as the name implies, it’s offshore, but it’s not going to be [for] international [use]. It’s for inter-island protection,” Murray added, noting that the OPVs can venture off to areas such as Benham Rise and the Spratly Islands.
Prior to the ongoing talks with the Philippine Navy, Austal had approached various government agencies such as the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine National Police a couple of years ago, pitching to build vessels as well. – Rappler.com