2nd Philippine Warship-Alcaraz would be delay of deployment from earlier schedule

Deployment would be delay for re-fitting armament system. Mk38 Mod 2 automatic cannon systems to be fitted to Philippine Warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz. A frigate purchased by the Philippines from the United States will be among the first ships in the world to be equipped with state-of-the art cannon systems.

Philippine warship likely to be deployed by April 2013

The Philippine government may have to wait until April 2013 before it could deploy its second warship, even as the tension triggered by the conflicting ownership claims over the islands in the West Philippine Sea is expected to escalate.

Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama said on Sunday the scheduled commissioning of BRP Ramon Alcaraz would be delayed due to ongoing repairs and refitting on the Hamilton-class cutter in Charleston, South Carolina.

The 45-year-old frigate was formally acquired for 450 million by the Armed Forces from the US Coast Guard on May 22 as part of the US government's military assistance to the Philippines.

"The repairs are still continuing so most probably (BRP Alcaraz) will arrive in the country late March or early April next year," Pama told reporters over the phone.

He said the delay was caused mainly by the installation of the new main engine of the 3,250-ton warship, which was initially scheduled to sail from the United States last May.

"That's why we are taking this opportunity for our personnel to undergo more training," he said.

Asked if the ship would be sent to patrol the country's coastlines in the West Philippine Sea, he said "it will be deployed wherever it may be needed."

In his State of the Nation Address last July, President Benigno Aquino III announced that BRP Alcaraz would be sailing from the United States in January 2013 as part of the much-needed upgrade in the war armaments and equipment of the Armed Forces.

"We are not sending paper boats out to the sea. Now, our 36,000 kilometers of coastline will be patrolled by more modern ships," the President said, referring to the decades-old vessel which the US Coast Guard decommissioned on March 30.

Formerly called USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716), the military's second frigate was named after the late Commodore Ramon "Monching" Alcaraz, a decorated World War II hero who commanded Q-boat Abra, which shot down three Japanese aircraft.

Like its sister ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the warship was classified as a high-endurance cutter built in 1968. (http://is.gd/Yk9sV7)

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