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Defense department eyes ships with ‘frigate capability’

WITH a loaded purse, the Philippines is shopping around for two ships with “frigate capability,” a Department of National Defense (DND) official said.

“We need to acquire these [ships] to further enhance the protection and defense of our coastline,” National Defense Spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said on Wednesday.

“We’re actually eyeing ships with frigate capability,” he told reporters when asked if the DND is in the market for modern offshore patrol vessels.

Frigates are warships used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare vessels.

The Canadian frigate, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Regina (FFH-334), that visited the Port of Manila on Tuesday is a Halifax-class frigate.

Like others in its class, the Regina carries anti-submarine torpedoes and anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles.

But Canada is not included in the five countries that the DND earlier said expressed their intention to sell frigates and offshore patrol vessels to the Philippines.

Galvez said offers came from the United States, Israel, Croatia, South Korea and Australia.

“The offers began coming in in the last quarter of last year maybe after they saw how serious we are in upgrading our military force,” he added.

The country has allocated around $292.5 million (P11.7 billion) to acquire two frigates by 2014.

The Navy earlier acquired two phased out US Coast Guard weather high-endurance cutters and reclassified them as frigates.

The US Coast Guard stripped the first to be delivers, the USS Hamilton of its armaments and electronic equipment before it was turned over to the Philippines. The Hamilton was renamed BRP (Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas) Gregorio del Pilar.

The 40year-old ship ha been commissioned in the Navy, where reports said, it spends more time being repaired than on patrol on the waters off Palawan.

Another Hamilton class ship is scheduled to be delivered this year. It will be renamed BRP Ramon Alcaraz.

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