6 new US Made Riverine fast crafts arrived for Philippine Navy; bidding for new warships continue - Austal Ship Cebu will Join

Riverine fast craft is rigid-hull, armed and armored patrol boat used by the U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy to maintain control of rivers and inland waterways. They are similar in size and purpose to the much older Patrol Boat, River vessels used during the Vietnam War. Riverine patrol boats parked at the Philippine Marine Corps headquarters in Taguig City. AFP MODERNIZATION PHOTO/FACEBOOK

 Six US-made riverine patrol boats by aluminum vessel manufacturer Silver Ships arrived Thursday at the Philippine Marine headquarters.

The brand new 40-foot vessels were transferred to the country under the Foreign Military Sales program through which the US government facilitated the procurement of the items for the Navy.

The Philippine Navy ordered the boats through the program in 2011 and manufacturing was completed in 2012. Transport and freight problems, however, delayed the boats' delivery from May to August this year.

The boats will reportedly be used in shallow water operations but are also  capable of traversing open waters.

A riverine patrol boat's beam has a 10-foot, eight-inch beam, a two-feet draft, center console configuration, bow ramp for troops' embarkation, three weapon mounts for machine guns and grenade launchers.

The Hamilton HJ-292 waterjet-powered Silver Ships vessels are also able to reach a top speed of 40 knots.

Philippine Navy spokesperson Gregory Fabic had said that the acquisition is under the Armed Forces of the Philippines' modernization plan from 2014 to 2017.

Bidding Open for New Warships

Despite having acquired two second-hand warships from the United States, the Philippine Navy is still keen on purchasing brand new frigates. 2 Italy made Frigates and France made Warships are still under negotiation while Austal Ship builder in Cebu is eyeing to join the bidding for new warships.

Philippine Navy flag officer-in-charge Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano said the new acquisitions are still part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' bid for modernization.

"(The frigates are still) part of the modernization program. (We are) now in the process of coming up with the final documents for the bidding," Alano said.

He added that five countries have so far expressed interest in joining the bidding namely the US, Israel, Croatia, Australia and South Korea.

DND bought two Hamilton-class cutters BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) the past year. While the Del Pilar has started its service under the Navy, the Alcaraz which arrived in the Philippines last August 3 would be commissioned by September 2013 to join BRP del Pilar.

Alano, however, said that once the bidding process has concluded, the Department of National Defense will determine the start of the new frigate project seen to boost maritime security.

DND had announced that the upcoming new warships will cost the government 18 billion, higher than the earlier 11-billion budget.

President Benigno Aquino III said in his fourth State of the Nation Address the primary necessities in education, health and jobs creation  will be the administration's priority.

However, Aquino assured the troops that the plans to beef up the armed services will continue.

"To those who have doubts, let me stress that we will continue to strengthen the armed forces through honest and reasonable means. And I myself will do this as soon as possible," he said.

With report from philSTAR

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