The Philippine military is planning to deploy new US-built Hamilton Class patrol craft to boost patrols around the Philippine-claimed area of the Spratly Archipelago, military spokesman Brigadier-General Jose Mabanta has said.

A Philippine Navy crew is currently undergoing training in the US to operate the patrol craft, which is expected to arrive in June this year.

The 378ft-long 3,250t Hamilton Class ships have dual diesel and gas turbine engines and can cruise at a speed of 29kt.

The ships are armed with a rapid-firing 3in/76mm gun, a 20mm Phalanx, and two 25mm mk38 Bushmaster auto-cannons.

The Philippine Navy fleet consists of recommissioned former US Navy vessels that include Rajah Humabon, a Cannon-class destroyer escort that was built during World War II.

The US and Philippines, a major non-Nato military ally, are bound by a 1951 mutual defence pact.