The Philippine Navy’s flagship and largest warship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar (FF-15), has ran aground in the vicinity of Hasa-Hasa Shoal (Half Moon Shoal) on Wednesday evening while on routine patrol in the disputed West Philippine Sea.
The West Philippine Sea is part of the disputed South China Sea which is the nearest to the Philippines and located in the western side of the Philippine Sea.
The impact did not cause any heavy damage to the ship’s hull, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato said on Friday. “Damage to the hull is very minimal,” Detoyato said, adding that the starboard or right propeller sustained damage due to the grounding. He, however, maintained that the port or left propeller and engines remained intact.
“An investigation is expected in such situations to find out the possible causes of the grounding and to come up with steps to ensure that similar incidents will be prevented,” Detoyato said.
Detoyato added that two tugboats from Batangas have already been deployed to aid in the recovery of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, with one leaving Thursday afternoon and another later on Friday. These small craft are expected to reach the grounded frigate in two days and will be used in removing it. The grounding site is being secured by other naval assets in the area.
AFP has assured that the frigate is still operational after it sustained minimal damage due to the incident, the government-owned Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar is one of three Ex-U.S. Coast Guard Hamilton-class high endurance cutters acquired by the PN and converted into frigates. They are now the Philippines’ largest warships.
These ships have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots. They have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and a sea and loiter time of 45 days.
Gregorio del Pilar is armed with a Mk.75 Oto Melara 76mm compact cannon, an Mk. 38 Mod.1 25mm autocannon, two Mk. 16 Oerlikon 20mm cannon, and six M2HB Browning .50 caliber machine guns.