By Jonas Reyes
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT – A boatbuilding company in this freeport is building high-speed patrol boats for the Philippine police.
Safehull Marine Technologies, Inc., a Filipino-owned company, has delivered 21 high-speed tactical watercraft (HSTW) to the Philippine National Police (PNP) built at its factory in Subic’s Global Industrial Park.
“These are sleek, good-looking boats that you would mistake for pleasure yachts, but they’re really fast and stable and could be mounted with guns for tactical missions,” said Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who joined a sea trial of the boats recently.
“It makes us proud that these vessels are made in Subic, and that they’re a product of a Filipino company,” Eisma added.
Eisma said the 40-foot craft will be deployed in Mindanao for patrolling the country’s exclusive economic zone, law enforcement and peace and order, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Each fiberglass-hulled boat is powered by three outboard motors and can reach a top speed of 45 knots. It is meant to operate approximately 200 miles from shore and in slight to moderate sea conditions.
Safehull officials said they were able to make a breakthrough in production after perfecting the vacuum infusion process, which shortened the period of building the hull from three weeks to one day.
Safehull Marine, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Manila-based Propmech Corporation, is engaged in the fabrication of ship and ship components, ship repair, and engineering services for design and installation of parts and modules.
Thirty percent of the boats built in Subic are for clients in the defense industry, including the United States military, Safehull officials said.
The boats are designed, assembled and outfitted in Subic by Safehull and Propmech by local naval architects and workers, and in partnership with foreign technology companies like the Damen Group of Netherlands, Saab Group of Sweden, Taiwan’s Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co., and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense System.
The Propmech and Safehull joint venture has also built three multi-purpose attack craft (MPAC) that were delivered to the Philippine Navy in 2009, 2012 and 2017; a 15-meter landing craft vehicle personnel (LCVP) for the Navy; as well as 136 units of 50-horsepower rubber boats for the PNP.
This year, it is scheduled to build another unit of MPAC that the Navy will outfit with short-range surface-to-surface missiles.