The Philippines' first strategic sealift vessel (SSV) is expected to reach the country before the commencement of the Philippine Navy (PN)'s 118th founding anniversary celebration on 20 May.
This was revealed by Philippine Navy spokesperson Colonel Edgard Arevalo, who stated: "Hopefully, she will arrive before May 20."
Initial sea trials and checking of the SSV's interior and bulkheads are currently being undertaken as the ship has left its dry-dock.
The first SSV has been given the designation of 'LD-601', as well as the prospective name of BRP Tarlac.
It was launched this month at the PT PAL (Persero) shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Sea trails on a fully fledged scale will begin once the sailing crew arrives.
The SSV will have a total crew of 115, of which 17 will be officers and 98 enlisted personnel.
"The facilities and other navigational instruments are being tested to ensure seaworthiness, especially before it embarks on its voyage to the Philippines." Arevalo said.
The country had placed two-SSV orders to PT PAL (Persero) for PHP3.870bn, which has been derived from the AFP Modernisation Fund.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin had given approval for the order on 30 October, 2013.
The Department of National Defense had announced that Persero was the single calculated responsive bidder, placing a bidding price of PHP3.87bn on 18 November, 2014.
Programmed to be the PN's floating command centre to serve as military sealift and transport vessels, the SSVs are also meant for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
These vessels serve as core assets during civil-military operations as they can transport large number of soldiers, logistics, and supplies.
Each SSV comes with a capacity to house three helicopters. The navy's Augusta Westland-109s are programmed to be on-board parts of these vessels, which are estimated to weigh around 7,300 gross register tonnes.
Image: Officials of the Philippine Navy and Department of National Defense with the recently launched BRP Tarlac (LD-601). Photo: courtesy of Philippine Navy Public Information Office, Philippine Navy / Wikipedia.