by Priam Nepomuceno | National News
MANILA — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad are expected to visit South Korea to witness the launching of the country’s first-ever missile-armed frigate this May.
The PN chief, in an interview with DWDD Monday, said the visit will be from May 17 to 19.
He, however, did not give specific details on the launching date of the BRP Jose Rizal, the Navy’s first-ever missile frigate, which is undergoing construction by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI).
The second frigate, which will be named BRP Antonio Luna, is also being constructed by HHI.
“Ibig sabihin ng launching ng first frigate is yung barko ay tapos na yung ginagawa sa kanya sa dry-dock, so ibaba siya and mag-float na siya sa dagat from the dock of the shipyard (When we say launching of the first frigate, it means the construction of the ship at the dry-drock is done. So it will be floated in the sea from the dock of the shipyard),” Empedrad said.
BRP Jose Rizal’s launching will be followed by the keel-laying of BRP Antonio Luna, the PN chief stressed. He added that this is necessary because the ships will be delivered six months apart.
Also, Empedrad said that the Navy’s first two anti-submarine helicopters, the AgustaWestland AW-159 “Wildcat”, which will be armed with torpedoes and missiles, will be arriving in the Philippines by May 14.
These will be followed by four amphibious assault vehicles intended for the Philippine Marine Corps.
The Philippines and HHI signed a PHP16-billion contract for two missile-armed frigates with another PHP2 billion set aside for its weapon systems and munitions. Projected delivery date of the first frigate is by 2020 with the second one in 2021. (PNA)