Welcome aboard! BRP Antonio Luna is here

Published February 26, 2021, 7:28 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The Philippine Navy (PN) officially welcomed the future BRP Antonio Luna (FF 151), its second missile-capable frigate, during an arrival ceremony held at Pier 13, South Harbor in Manila on Friday, Feb. 26.

(Photo from PH Navy)

Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, PN Flag Officer in Command, said the arrival of BRP Antonio Luna was “a momentous event” that signified the Navy’s consistent pursuit to modernize its assets and improve its capabilities.

“From the decommissioning of PN legacy assets to our continuous effort in upgrading our fleet, the Philippine Navy is fully committed to become a more credible unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Bacordo said.

The frigate will be formally handed over to the Philippines, christened, and commissioned into service tentatively on the fourth week of March. It was manufactured by South Korean shipmaker, Hyundai Heavy Industries.

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, who served as the guest of honor and speaker, led all the spectators in witnessing the future BRP Antonio Luna’s docking to a Philippine port for the first time. 

“With our sailors who are among definitely the best in the world, I can say that with this addition to the Navy, we’re definitely improving our position as one of the stronger armed forces and navies in the world. I give all my praises to the skilled and experienced sailors of the Philippine Navy,” Villar said.  

The frigate was initially given its at-sea honors earlier this month through a meeting procedure conducted by BRP Jose Rizal (FF150), its sister ship, and a fly-by of the Philippine Air Force’s FA-50 jets as it entered Philippine territorial sea.

However, the ship had to be anchored off Subic Bay, Zambales as its crew observed the mandatory quarantine period prior to Friday’s arrival ceremony.

The ship has a maiden crew of 101 sailors headed by its first commanding officer, Capt. Charles Merric Villanueva. 

The new vessel passed all harbor and sea trials, and actual ship inspection at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea in January 2021, and in September to December 2020.

It is capable of fighting the four dimensions of warfare namely anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and electronic warfare (EW) like the BRP Jose Rizal.

The two warships are the first pair of missile-capable frigates of the Philippine Navy, and are the products of its P16-billion frigate acquisition project.