The Philippines will soon have its second warship, as the newly-refurbished BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) is now on its way to the country from South Carolina.
On its Twitter account, the Philippine embassy in Washington D.C. confirmed the missile-firing capable warship has left Charleston and will arrive in Manila around first week on August.
“Members of the Filipino community on hand to send off crew of the Alcaraz, the Philippine Navy’s latest acquisition,” the Philippine embassy in Washington said.
“Emotional farewells for members of the Filipino community in Charleston and the crew of Alcaraz prior to departure for the Philippines,” it added.
Alcaraz, a 378-foot decommissioned US Coast Guard ship that the Philippines acquired last year, underwent a $15.5 million or P620 million-worth of refurbishment in Charleston.
The Filipino community in Charleston served as foster families for the crew of Alcaraz, which stayed in South Carolina for a year.
The Hamilton-class weather high endurance cutter, which also underwent another month of sea trials, was named after World War II hero, Commodore Ramon Alcaraz.
The warship will join BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the country’s first warship, amid continuing tensions between Chinese and Taiwanese governments over various islands in the West Philippine Seas.
“Expectations are high but I am sure the men and women of the BRP Ramon Alcaraz will live up to those expectations,” Captain Ernesto Baldovino, who will lead the voyage, said prior departure.
Reports say the warship has been fitted with anti-ship harpoon missiles, which is heavier and more sophisticated than that of BRP Gregorio del Pilar.
Aside from harpoon surface-to-surface missiles, Alcaraz is has also been armed with 76-mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, two 25-bushmaster guns and heavy machine guns.
The new warship has a cruising range of 14,000 miles and can stay in the high seas for 45 days.
On the eve of its departure, Ambassador Jose Cuisia reminded the crew of BRP Alcaraz of their duty to defend the country’s territory even as the Philippine government continues to ease tensions in the West Philippine Seas.
“As you know, there are some tensions in the West Philippine Sea and this may put you in harm’s way but there is no doubt that you will perform your duty of protecting Philippine territory if needed,” Cuisia said .
“We do not want to see a confrontation and we are hoping that diplomatic efforts would ease these tensions. We are for peace and for the stability of the region but at the same time, we are prepared to defend what is ours,” he added.