Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana witnessed a capability demonstration of BRP Gabriela Silang, the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) newest offshore patrol vessel, in Manila Bay on Tuesday.
Lorenzana was accompanied by Philippine Navy (PN) Flag Officer in Command, Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo. They were welcomed by Admiral George Ursabia, PCG Commandant, during the demonstration held in Manila Bay.
In a statement Wednesday, the Department of National Defense (DND) said the visit was deemed important especially since the Navy is also continuously upgrading its capabilities to better protect the country’s vast territories amid the country’s maritime dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.
According to the DND, the BRP Gabriela Silang is the world’s largest aluminum offshore patrol vessel.
It uses aluminum to minimize rust, thus, lowering its maintenance cost. Aluminum is a much lighter metal compared to steel, which also contributes to a reduction in its fuel consumption.
The DND said BRP Gabriela Silang is designed to carry out search and rescue, diving operations, anti-piracy, and law enforcement operations.
It is based on a modern design with a low radar signature minimizing reflectivity while its hull is designed for ocean voyage and operation in rough sea conditions.
It is also fitted with a Hyperbaric Chamber which is necessary for deep-sea activities and diving, and is equipped with a mission management system (MMS), a command and control center, sensors such as radars, automatic identification system (AIS), communications equipment, and surveillance equipment with night vision camera, among others.
The vessel is also capable of situational awareness, target detection, tracking and information, record and replay, information display, and exchange of information with other units.
It has a range of 8,000 nautical miles at 12 knots, can accommodate about 66 persons and 35 rescued survivors, and has a flight deck designed for a 5-ton class helicopter. It also has two 9.2 rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs).
The vessel was turned over by French shipyard Ocea to the Philippines in a change-of-flag ceremony held on December 18, 2019, at the Les Sables d’Olonne shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.
After the demonstration, Lorenzana made a quick tour at the site of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) controversial rehabilitation program in Manila Bay, where crushed dolomite rocks have been offloaded along the stretch of the famed tourist attraction to create an artificial white sand beach.