The Philippine Navy’s first missile-capable frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF150) arrived in Subic, Zambales on May 23 after its five-day voyage from Ulsan, South Korea.
While at anchor in the Subic Anchorage Area, the sailing crew will undergo two-week quarantine in adherence to the strict health protocols being implemented by the Philippine government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Technical Inspection and Acceptance of the frigate shall commence after the quarantine period. A simple arrival and commissioning ceremony is poised to be conducted on June 19 coinciding with the birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal, the ship’s namesake.
Upon reaching the Philippine waters early morning of May 21, FF150 exchanged signals and communications through radio with the Navy’s Rizal class patrol corvette BRP Quezon (PS70) that is currently deployed in Mavulis Island, Batanes.
On early morning of May 22, the Naval Forces Northern Luzon welcomed FF150 by rendering a meeting procedure with its first patrol boat division composed of three patrol boats at the vicinity of Bolinao, Pangasinan. Later in the afternoon, BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS17) with one Augusta Westland AW109 helicopter and C-90 Fixed Wing Aircraft conducted a meeting procedure with FF150 along the vicinity of Santa Cruz, Zambales. It was then escorted by PS17 to its designated anchorage area.
Earlier today, frigate Jose Rizal was accorded the traditional passing honors with PS17 and three multipurpose assault crafts (MPACs). The momentous event was captured during the fly-by of two naval helicopters – the anti-submarine helicopter, AW159 Wildcat, and AW109.
The Commander, Offshore Combat Force, Commodore Karl Decapia who presided the arrival of FF150 indicated that this signals the realization of a modern navy that is capable of imposing the Navy’s territorial defense mandate. This frigate is capable of fighting the four dimensions of warfare. He then thanked Philippine leadership for standing behind the PN modernization in pursuit of a credible and modern navy.
In a separate statement, the Philippine Fleet commander, Rear Adm. Loumer Bernabe greeted all the officers and men of FF150, PN Frigate Owners representatives and the support team from the Republic of Korea, saying, “We are one with the Filipino people in expressing our profound gratitude in bringing pride and honor to the Philippine Navy and the AFP”.
“Our countrymen expect nothing less than the selfless and honorable service that we in the Fleet have sworn to uphold and protect. I enjoin everyone to sustain the momentum that you have gained and continue to aspire for competence and excellence”, he added.
“The arrival of FF150 in the country is yet another major leap toward the fulfillment of the PN’s thrust of having modern platforms and systems which provide opportunities for its personnel to develop modern mindsets and propel the whole organization into becoming a multi-capable naval force responsive to our maritime nation’s defense and development”, said a PN statement.
Jose Rizal-class frigates
In October 2016, the Philippine Government and South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) signed a PHP16-billion contract for two missile-armed frigates, designated Jose Rizal-class after the name of the first vessel, with another PHP2 billion set aside for its weapon systems and munition.
The Jose Rizal-class frigates are built based on the design of Incheon/FFX-I/HDF-3000-type multi-purpose frigates operated by the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN).
The vessels measure 351 feet long and 46 feet wide and have a displacement of 2,600 tonnes. They have a maximum speed of 25 knots, can travel up to 4,500 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 15 knots and can sustain operational presence for 30 days. They can also withstand rough sea conditions up to Sea State 7, which means waves of up to six to nine meters high.
The Jose Rizal-class ships will be armed with an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid main gun, an Aselsan SMASH 30mm remote-controlled secondary cannon, S&T Motiv 12.7mm K6 heavy machine guns, anti-submarine torpedoes, and Mistral anti-air missiles (on Twin MBDA Simbad RC turret) and LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship missiles.
The frigates are equipped with a Hanwha Systems’ Naval Shield combat management system (CMS), which integrates all shipboard sensors and weapons, and decides which is ideal to deal with any incoming threat. The system can also detect and track some 4,000 targets and is used in various configurations by the Republic of Korea Navy, Royal Malaysian Navy, and the Indonesian Navy.
Each frigate will have a flight deck towards the stern with the ability to handle one maritime helicopter weighing up to 12 tons. Two rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) will be carried to conduct military and emergency operations at sea. The vessels have a complement of more than 100 officers and crew.
The new vessels will help secure the country’s maritime chokepoints or primary sea routes used for trade, logistics, and naval operations from surface, sub-surface, and air threats. These frigates are also expected to escort the two Tarlac-class landing dock platforms, the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602), while on missions.
Ships of the class:
The steel-cutting for the first vessel of the class, BRP Jose Rizal, took place at HHI’s facility in Ulsan, South Korea on April 1, 2018 and the keel-laying ceremony for the vessel took place in October 2018 as the formal recognition of the start of the ship’s construction. The vessel was formally launched on May 23, 2019.
The first steel cutting of the second vessel of the class, the future BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), was conducted in November 2018. The keel of the ship was also formally laid down at Dock 4 of the HHI’s Ulsan shipyard on May 23, 2019. The vessel was launched in November 2019 and is scheduled for delivery in 2021.