The Philippine Navy (PN) has christened and commissioned the third Del Pilar-class frigate (DPCF) at the US Coast Guard (USCG) base in Alameda, California.
Named Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Andres Bonifacio (FF17), the vessel is the USCG’s decommissioned all weather high-endurance cutter (WHEC) 719, Boutwell.
Last year, US President Barack Obama committed to the transfer of two USCG vessels for the PN through the Office of International Acquisition’s Excess Defense Articles (EDA) programme.
Obama also pledged to transfer the research vessel Melville, which has been rechristened as BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR702) by the PN.
The third DCPF will be deployed primarily for the PN’s maritime security efforts and to conduct sovereignty patrols.
The FF17 crew will undergo training for almost three months, as the ship prepares to depart from the US in October this year.
Stationed in San Diego, the 378ft-long, 3,250t Hamilton-class cutter USCG Boutwell entered into service in 1968 and was decommissioned in March this year.
The vessel is powered by dual diesel and gas turbine engines, and can cruise at a speed of 29k. It can support one helicopter on its flight deck during airborne operations.
The PN had already received two high endurance cutters, which are renamed Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, in 2011 and 2012 respectively, through the EDA programme.
These ships are deployed by the PN to respond to disasters, perform counterterrorism missions and patrol the South China Sea.
Additionally, the navies of Bangladesh and Nigeria received two USCG decommissioned high-endurance cutters each under the EDA programme.
Image: USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719) at Haiti. Photo: courtesy of PO2 WENDY HAMME.