By Joel C. Atencio, PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
The Philippine Navy (PN) said on Monday the Hamilton-class cutter that the Philippine government acquired from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has officially been named BRP (Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas) “Gregorio del Pilar.”
This developed after Philippine officials received the vessel from the USCG as part of the PN’s modernization program. The ship’s crew is undergoing training in the U.S.
PN officials said that as a step toward the vessel’s commissioning in the country, the official name of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton was changed Friday to “Ex-Hamilton” during the transfer ceremony at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, California.
In attendance during Friday’s turnover ceremony were Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia Jr. and Vice Admiral Manson K. Brown, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area and Defense Force West Commander who signed the Certificate of Transfer.
Among those who witnessed the signing were Consul General to the U.S. Marciano A Paynor Jr., Philippine Defense Armed Forces Attaché to the U.S. Capt. Antonio Habulan Jr. of the Philippine Navy, and PN Capt. Alberto A. Cruz, commanding officer of the Ex-Hamilton ship which is expected to arrive sometime in September this year.
According to Philippine Navy’s tradition, surface combatant ships are named after Philippine national heroes, historical figures, and past heads of state.
This time, the PN’s Organizational and Manpower Management Committee, which deliberated on the possible names for the vessel, came up with three candidate names — Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Lapu-Lapu, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, and BRP Jose Torres Bugallon.
The panel eventually came up with the name “BRP Gregorio del Pilar” in honor of the young hero of the Battle of Tirad Pass.
PF 15 has been identified as the bow number of the vessel with its classification as a surface combatant ship — Frigate and the 15th PF type vessel in the PN inventory.
Transfer cost is pegged at P450 million, while operational cost for two years is estimated at P120 million.
Funding will come from the Department of Energy (DOE), considering that the vessel is projected to be deployed for the security of oil platforms and oil exploration activities in Palawan and Sulu Sea.
The crew of BRP Gregorio del Pilar has been on training since February this year in the U.S. The training will last until June 30, prior to installation of a Coast Watch System equipment in July.