Philippine Coast Guard Gets Boost With Two New Patrol Vessels
The Philippines intends to intensify its maritime patrol activities following the unveiling of the first of two 97-meter multi-role response vessels (MMRVs) at the Shimonoseki shipyard of Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. in Japan.
The vessels, acquired by the Department of Transportation for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), are expected to improve the PCG's maritime security and maritime safety capabilities - including its patrol presence in contested parts of the South China Sea. “The ships are capable of conducting sustained maritime patrols in the country’s maritime jurisdictions, including the West Philippine Sea and Philippine Rise,” said the PCG in a statement.
The new vessel has an overall length of approximately 96.6 meters, with a maximum speed of 24 knots and a cruising range of up to 4,000 nautical miles. It is equipped with secure communication systems for EEZ surveillance, a helideck and hangar for helicopter operations, an underwater remotely operated vehicle for subsurface search and survey, high-speed rubber boats and other essential equipment for maritime domain awareness and maritime law enforcement operations.
The construction of the vessels is being financed by the Japanese government under a $149.5 billion loan agreement, corresponding to the second phase of a partnership agreement signed between the Philippines and Japan in October 2016.
The acquisition comes at a time when the Philippines is increasing maritime patrols in its extensive coastal waters, which have historically been vulnerable to piracy, armed robbery and unwelcome foreign government intrusion. In years past, the Philippines-based Islamist organization known as the Abu Sayyaf Group conducted a series of attacks in the southern fringes of the Philippines, making the area one of the most hazardous in the world for maritime kidnapping.
The effort to prevent a resurgence continues today. In recent weeks, the PCG and other regional coast guards have been carrying out anti-terrorism and anti-piracy exercises to tests its monitoring capabilities for search and rescue and law enforcement operations in the vast waters.
The two MRRVs, modeled after the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) Kunigami-class vessels, will be the largest vessels of the PCG’s fleet once delivered. The christening and handover of the first vessel is scheduled for May 2022, and the launch ceremony for the second vessel is scheduled for November 18, 2021. Christening and handover for the second vessel are planned for September 2022.