By Francis Wakefield
The Frigate Acquisition Project (FAP) for the Philippine Navy (PN) reached another milestone following the Keel Laying Ceremony for the Frigate 1 at Ulsan, South Korea,.on Tuesday, October 16.
No less than Navy Chief Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad, along with Department of National Defense (DND) Chief for Acquisition Office Director Leodegario Decena Dela Paz, headlined the Philippine delegation which witnessed the event in Korea.
Other Philippine Navy officials present in the ceremony were the Commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command Rear Admiral Giovanni Carlo J. Bacordo; Commander of Offshore Combat Force Commodore Caesar Bernard Valencia, and the PN Foreign Frigate Owners Representative Capt. Sergio Bartolome.
They were joined by the Senior Vice President of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Mr. Yun Kong Yong.
Bartolome, the PN officer overseeing the project at HHI, said the ceremony was conducted at the building dock Number 6 of the Special and Naval Shipbuilding Division of HHI.
He said three blocks of the first PN frigate (with HHI Project Nr 159) were installed on the dock.
“The keel laying ceremony is a significant activity and a major step towards the completion of the country ’s first ever frigate project which is scheduled to be delivered to the PN by 2020,” he said.
It can be recalled that on October 24, 2016, the contract agreement for the FAP was signed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as head of procuring entity (HOPE), and Kisun Chung, vice president/owner of HHI for the construction of two new 2,600-ton frigates that are missile-capable and -equipped with sensors and systems for modern naval warfare.
Lorenzana earlier expressed his utmost desire for the timely completion of the project.
“Indeed, the completion of the CDR phase and the start of the steel cutting show that FAP is now moving forward without delays in accordance with the stipulations of the contract,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana said the two missile frigates are expected to be delivered in 2020, and will cement the Philippine Navy’s vision of becoming a strong and credible Navy that our maritime nation will be proud of.
The Defense chief said the two warships will certainly enhance the capability of the Philippine Navy to guard the Philippine maritime territory and its exclusive economic zone