Friday, July 19, 2013

Why the Hamilton-class WHECs are still worth purchasing for the Philippine Navy.

There has been a lot of comments in the press, the internet, and even on discussions with defense and government officials opposing the Philippine government's decision to purchase 40-year old Hamilton-class patrol vessels from the US Coast Guard to upgrade the capabilities of the Philippine Navy. Here at MaxDefense blog alone, readers can see the views of some posters rejecting the ships. 

But is purchasing the ships really not worth it? 

Let us discuss the pros and cons of the ship with regards to its use with the Philippine Navy, starting with the cons.

CONS:
These are the most common reasons why people are against the purchase of the Hamilton-class ships for the Philippine Navy:

1. "The ships are too old and are replaced with newer ships by the US Coast Guard". 


USCGC Rush before the FRAM upgrades. Taken during Exercise Brim Frost 1985. Notice the missing telescopic hangar, and Phalanx CIWS at the fantail, and the use of the older 5" gun.
Photo taken from Wikipedia.
Looking at the ship class' history, the Hamilton-class cutters are actually designed in the early 1960's, with the first ship, USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715) , now known as BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), being launched in 1965 and commissioned with the US Coast Guard in 1967. That makes the ship 48 years old from launching. That even makes the ship probably older than the ship's current commanding officer (am I right Capt.Cruz & Cmdr. Orbe?)  Due to old age, the US Coast Guard started replacing the class with the new National Security Cutter a.k.a. Legend-class cutters, and the decommissioned units were sold to the Philippines, Nigeria, and recently to Bangladesh. Due to old age, wear and tear of its parts and degradation of the hull and systems are expected to happen. Compared to newer ships they become more susceptible to frequent maintenance requirements, frequent and longer dock time and reduced operational capability.


2. "These ships were heavily used by the US Coast Guard in their high seas operation".


The USCGC Mellon operating on high sea states. The WHECs were reportedly driven hard by the US Coast Guard to achieve their missions in high sea states and different conditions around the world that even navy ships do not dare to go.
Photo taken from USCG website.

The US Coast Guard heavily used the Hamilton-class cutters as these are their most capable and longest-ranged ships in the service. They were everywhere around the world during the 40+ years in service, from the icy waters of the Bering Strait to the tropical waters of the Caribbean.  The Hamiltons were even used by the USCG in sea control, escort and shore bombardment duties from the Vietnam War until the South Ossetia War. Due to their design to perform well in the high seas, they are also the preferred platform on high sea state operations if required by the USCG.


3. "They do not have the necessary sensors and weapons systems a normal modern frigate has".
Before transferring to friendly countries like the Philippines, the US government removed the ship's AN/SPS-40 air search radar, the AN/SPS-73 surface search radar, communications systems and links used by US military forces, the 2 Mk. 38 Mod. 0 chain guns, and the Mk. 15 Phalanx close-in weapons system. The US government claims that the weapons will be used for their incoming Legend-class and other USCG ships, while the radar and communications systems will be used as spares for their remaining Hamilton-class ships in USCG service. The recipient countries bought a new radar system to replace the surface search and navigation radar and necessary safety equipment as a basic requirement for normal sea travel.


The BRP Gregorio del Pilar was only armed with the Oto Melara 76mm gun when handed-over to the Philippine Navy.
Photo from BRP Gregorio del Pilar PF-15 Facebook page.

4. "They won't stand a chance against OPFOR naval forces".
With only a 76mm gun plus light weapons, it won't stand a chance should OPFOR decided to use force against the ship. It does not have the offensive power to strike OPFOR ships, aircraft and submarines, and except for the main gun, it does not have the hard-kill systems to defend against anti-ship missiles and soft-kill systems to avoid torpedoes. It does not even have the capability to detect incoming threats from a longer distance as compared to its American sister-ships.


The PN needs more capable warships and naval assets to protect the country's EEZ and territory from OPFOR threats, like this fleet.
Photo taken from sina.com

5. "There are a lot more naval ships on offer abroad, why settle for the Hamilton-class?"
Currently there a number of frigates being offered in the used market, with the well-known Maestrale and Soldati classes from the Italians, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class from the Americans, the F122 Bremen-class from the Germans, and others. These are even younger and more capable than the Hamilton-class cutters, with a more comprehensive offensive and defensive weapons, sensors and detection systems, and were built according to Milspec.
The Italians offered the Maestrale-class frigates before, as discussed in previous MaxDefense blogs.
Photo taken from Wikimedia.


But also there are positive reasons on why the Philippine Navy decided to get the Hamilton-class ships:


PROS:

1. The Philippine Navy needs to acquire as many large-hull warships it can possibly get, operate and maintain with its limited budget.
The PN is currently experiencing shortage of capable ships of all sizes, and before the PF-15 was commissioned in 2011 there was only 1 gun frigate in service. Several old warships were decommissioned without replacement in the past. The PN needs to have more ships to show its presence and patrol the vast Philippine territorial and EEZ waters. The Hamilton-class was an opportunity that the PN saw, and now the BRP Gregorio del Pilar has been a big boost to the capability of the PN even if it's just 1 ship. If there are more used warships available in the market and the PN has the budget to purchase more, it must use the chance and do so. The BRP Gregorio del Pilar was funded with a 2 years operational budget worth Php 120 million when it was purchased to make sure that it won't get stuck at port due to lack of funds.


2. Despite its age, the Hamilton-class ships are definitely younger, more capable, and have better seakeeping than 3 major ship classes of the Philippine Navy which are from the 1940s era.
Before the Gregorio del Pilar arrived, the PN's 3 largest surface warships are 70-year old World War 2 veterans, the BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11), the BRP Quezon (PS-70) and BRP Rizal (PS-74). There are also 6 more World War 2 veteran patrol vessels with the PN. Due to old age, these ships should have already been withdrawn from service by now. They do not have the weapons and systems currently being used in other navies, limiting the increase of technological skills and knowledge of ship crews and of the PN organization as a whole. Stories of the Oto Melara 76mm gun breakdown of the Jacinto-class ships and the lack of skilled specialists in the PN organization are abound on the internet, and all are attributed to the lack of modern equipment to train with in the PN's inventory. 


The Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates are definitely younger than the BRP Rajah Humabon.
Photo taken from US Navy c/o Wikimedia.
But the Gregorio del Pilar, despite its "old age" as compared to naval assets being used by neighboring countries, is 30 years younger than the PN's largest warships. It is also larger and can operate on higher sea states than most if not all PN warships, has one of the best endurance at sea than most comparable frigate and patrol vessels (both new and old), and has superior seakeeping. Despite its age, it also has the capability to accept modern ship systems, as discussed further in this blog. 

Of course they're old! If not they won't be even sold by the US government right? We must also consider the fact that all frigates in the used market are old, so the WHECs are not the only ships holding that distinction. You won't see slightly used frigates being sold elsewhere. Proper and thorough inspection of the ships can give the PN a better chance of only getting what it thinks is best for their specifications and requirements.


3. The Hamilton-class ships were sold to the Philippines at a very low price.
The BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15) only costed the Philippine government Php 450 million (more than $10M as of 2011)  for the ship, crew training, and refurbishment & minor repair works. An additional amount was spent to drydock the ship in the Philippines prior to commissioning. The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) was also purchase for the same amount, although an additional $ 5 million was spent for the repair works and engine replacement. For the 2 ships the government only spent less than $30 million. That is around more than half of a single Maestrale-class frigate without training and refurbishing works when Italy offered one to a South American country in 2009. Or just less than the price of a single KAI FA-50 Golden Eagle being offered to the Philippine Air Force. 

Imagine how many WHECs you can buy with the missing Php 10 billion PDAF "pork barrel" that is in the local news right now.


In comparison, the cost to purchase the 2 Hamilton-class WHECs is even less than a new FA-50 LIFT aircraft being offered to the PAF.

For a cash-strapped navy like the PN, this is already a very good bargain. Even Nigeria is contemplating getting another unit, and Bangladesh now joining the fray. Even in its current state as a large OPV, there is almost nothing in the used market right now that can offer the same deal for that price.


4. The Hamilton-class ships has the basic modern technology the Philippine Navy needs to train its personnel, and has the size to install current and future weapons and sensors to keep it up-to-date for another decade.
The Gregorio del Pilar has brought with it a lot of new capabilities to the PN when it was commissioned in 2011. It is equipped with a CODOG propulsion system, and became the first ship in the PN's history to have gas turbines as part of the propulsion. It is equipped with a "current technology" Oto Melara 76mm Compact gun, making it the 4th ship in the PN's inventory to have it, and despite the removal by the US of its original radar systems, the PF-15 has new navigation and surface search radar and a new C&C/Common Operational Picture system. It also has a helicopter hangar and helideck for shipborne helicopter operations, and provisions for new radar and communications systems if the PN decides to install. Provisions are also available to install Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Mk. 15 Phalanx CIWS or SeaRAM on the fantail, Mk. 38 25mm chain guns on the midships, a hull-mounted sonar (needs further modifications) and even torpedo launchers. 


The WHECs have already proven that they are capable of accepting additional systems to increase its capability. Seen here is the USCGC Mellon carrying Harpoon missiles and a Mk. 15 Phalanx CIWS after the FRAM program. Not shown are the torpedo launchers for Mk.46 torpedoes and the AN/SQS-26 hull mounted sonar. Photo taken from Wikimedia.

There are already plans to up-arm and upgrade the Gregorio del Pilar-class, with both ships to be installed with Coast Watch links, and reportedly, with a new 3D search radar, the Harpoon missile, the Mk. 38 Mod. 2 Typhoon 25mm chain guns, an AW-109 Power shipboard helicopter, and anti-submarine warfare capability. Of all current PN assets, only the Gregorio del Pilar-class has the space and size to receive systems that require large space and power requirements.


5. The Hamilton-class ships are readily available, and can be put to sea in a shorter span of time than most used frigates in the market.
Although the PN took more than a year to bring the BRP Ramon Alcaraz to service due to "overlooked" repair works, the cycle from purchase to commissioning is still faster than if buying other frigates. The BRP Gregorio del Pilar only took a few months from hand-over to commissioning. Due to the complexity of other used frigates, the PN may not be able to bring these more capable ships to sea immediately as it needs more time to train. The Hamilton-class ships are much simpler, and will be easy for the PN to assimilate into its fleet and capability.



MaxDefense believes that in general the Hamilton-class ships were a good buy for the Philippine Navy despite the negative issues ships, the positive outweighs the negative concerns. It is a better platform than the ageing naval assets of the PN that negatively affects their capability considering the limitations of their current assets. As an interim platform, the ships will be able to provide the Philippine Navy with capable ships at sea to immediately do its mandate of protecting its interests and territories even with limited capability. Anyway it is not expected that a shooting war will happen anytime soon if political arrangements are properly utilized in the absence of armed capability.

The Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates are expected to be in service with the PN for another decade, but the PN must not be complacent and rely too much on these ships. The cons issues posted above still hold true, and the PN must be able to plan its course of actions to move ahead further and not getting stuck with the WHECs. Purchasing brand new and more capable frigates is a good way to start, which the DND and PN are expected to release the details soon. At the mean time, MaxDefense suggests getting more WHECs from the US government using the same deal (or better) when it took the PF-15 and PF-16. The USCG is expected to release more WHECs every year, with another expected within this year.


More WHECs, more happy sailors seeing their organization upgrading and moving away from World War 2 era vintage warships.
Photo taken from Timawa.net

MaxDefense will be updating this blog later on (expect edits on this blog).

81 comments:

  1. The Gregorio del Pilar class is a good interim vessel and should be upgraded by adding anti ship, anti submarine and VLS anti air missiles. The VLS can be put behind the 76mm gun. There a lot of room for upgrade for this class. Modernization should not stop here. Acquiring more frigates like Incheon class and Gomduksuri class patrol boat is necessary to protect our maritime interest. We should also prioritized the acquisition or more mobile anti ship and anti air missiles. To deny the entry of potential enemy in our air and sea should be the first priority. This is a backbone of our defense while tediously waiting for modern ship and jets.

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  2. Filipinos were said to be great imitators. Then again, who did not.

    Like other nationals who love their country, why can't we imitate Japan and North Korea for allowing the general ordinary citizens to participate in a fund raising to help our nation defend its territories.

    There are dozens of groups who want to help. I am sure that if the trust to send is established, we will be a superpower counting the number of Filipinos abroad and the silent rich in the Philippines.

    Let me know how i can help.

    Emmanuel Asuncion

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    Replies
    1. Yes this is an excellent idea.. I have also mentioned it on my fb account but is invain as it has to reach the higher authorities. I and a lot of Filipino Patriots would like to donate for the sake of our beloved motherland and our families at home.

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    2. why donate when we are paying our taxes right? Then if this happens, the politician's pockets would only get bigger.

      Delete
  3. I simply think the Hamilton cutter will give PN a basic foundation on Frigate operations. It will give PN much needed experience for when they do acquire a Multi Role frigate down the road. For now, the Hamilton cutters give PN something to stand on.

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  4. The Philippines has surely purchased a good ship for a good price. There are eight WHECs still active, the government should set aside a budget for future purchase of the same ship whenever the USCG plans to decommission some of them.

    This is also a good boat transition for our sailors whenever the country purchase more sophisticated vessels.

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  5. We should grab the Jarvis (Whec 725) when it offered to us, but Bangladesh Navy grabbed it in a harry on May 23 of this year now USCGC Rush (Whec 723) to be commission by the end of this year, I hope the DND don't blink there eyes acquiring this one. Having a new frigates is a must for PN, while rotating there duties to learn from one ship to another.

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    1. yep. The hamilton class ships fit perfectly. hard to believe they're only $10-15 million.

      So for ~$40 million, you'll have three frigates patrolling WPS. NOT BAD

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    2. Yes, add one or two more and arming all them. I’m not sure how much for the refurbishment/ refitting lets say additional $15 million and arming them again lets say $15 mil. Not bad at all, while waiting for newer frigates hopefully before Noy term in 2016. Cross your fingers.

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  6. I guess the newer old is better than the older old..

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    1. hahaha true.
      once sh*t goes down China will put a whole bunch sanctions on philippines. nevertheless acquiring hardware is never a bad idea :)

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    2. What kind of sanctions are you talking about ? Our investments in China is much bigger than their investments in the Philippines ! Trade sanctions? No way ! They need our exports ( raw materials ) more that we need their rubbish exports ( consumables ) to us.

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  7. From the ravages of WWII and Korean War, the currently great navies of Japan and South Korea started out with second-hand, leased Destroyer Escorts from the US Navy. They had to rebuild their shipbuilding from almost scratch. Philippines, in general, can take inspiration from that. In fact, we are in a much better plane, since we already have a robust commercial shipbuilding industry. It's just a matter of government's will and push. The WHECs is serving its interim purpose, let's not drop the focus...

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    1. They embraced US support. Allowed US bases on their soil. On the other hand, there are still people in the Philippines who believe we can stand alone and that battles can be won only by righteousness, cultural loyalty and good intentions..

      ..and passion as a force multiplier

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  8. The best option considering the cost. Even spending three times what we paid for a Hamilton only gets us a smaller OPV built to commercial standards. When it retires nothing's stopping us from stripping a Hamilton of its weapons and sensors and installing them on a newer replacement. Nothing's wasted here.

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  9. PH should try to get around 3 more. 2 more for the PN and one for the PCG. or if one is beyond economic repair, get it as a spares hulk.

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  10. Given the fact that building a new ship of similar size will take at most 18 months. Add that to the bidding and possibly the tedious tooth grinding months of delays and worse the veto of know it all politicians.

    The Hamiltons needs only upgrades, for now, until the planned new builds come into the fore which I expect will be too late should a shooting war erupts with a brutish PLA ready to kill just because they can.

    For me throw in harpoons Korean anti-ship variant, 2-triplex torpedo launchers with active sonar to be installed at the bow, a sensible anti-missile technology etc... Would still be a lot faster than wait for new builds. Since we can't tell the PLA to 'can you wait until we are more capable of destroying you?' something that the PLA won't let happen.

    Soon the PLA will attack, it is inevitable, I just hope either we have in storage new build frigates, OPV's etc., or both our Hamiltons carry technology that can take out any ship BVR style. Otherwise, Manila would be declared an open city just because a few Senators and congressmen would rather buy cars and build mansions only to find out that the enemy will use them when they decide to occupy us.

    Defeatist! We Filipinos still have the Cancer Dr. Jose P Rizal mentioned. Governed by money staved politicians.

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    1. they are still looking for the supplier who will give them the biggest commision thats why up to now no definite arms n equipment to be install except for the anemic, undergun 25 mm typhoon gun,

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    2. Active sonar is expensive and hard to maintain. Put dipping sonar on the helos. Put harpoons and RAM on the ships and you'll have a credible surface threat. . .

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  11. Austal has a shipbuilding plant in Cebu. Is it not possible to order from them? Say LCS like the USS Independence.

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    1. Costly, time consuming, military shipbuilders are different from civie shipbuilders, not enough resources (would need to import metals) and others.

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    2. Max, could you please more specific why is too expensive if ever LCS is been chosen for new frigates vs. building in Australia? I'm sure that the S Korean maker would be cheaper than most of them and has a shipbuilding plant in Subic.

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    3. Nes, the USS Independence was purchased by the US Navy above $600 million without the mission packages which will jack the ship's price higher . Our budget for 2 ships is $440 million. Even if the ships are built in Cebu, the savings on labor would be minimal because it is the systems that will make the ship expensive, not the ship itself.

      Delete
  12. Thanks for the quality breakdown of the cons and pros of acquiring the Hamilton's, Max.

    The Hamiltons clearly filled a capabilities gap in the PN that desperately needed to be plugged, so your assessment that getting them for the interim was a good choice is right on the money. Especially since the PN urgently needs ships that can support ship-based helicopters.

    A third Hamilton definitely is in order, imo, since the Philippines will want to have 2 at sea virtually at all times and that is only possible with 3 or more in service due to the probable frequent maintenance schedule that these will be facing. Btw, do you have an idea of what the upkeep costs for these Hamiltons will be? I can't seem to find information on that anywhere.

    I would be wary of getting more than 3 Hamiltons, as the operating/maintenance costs of these could easily get out of hand due to their old age and the fact that the USCG drove them very hard. Upgrading their weapons systems definitely makes sense, though, if weapons systems are used that can later be transferred to future opv's and frigates. An Oerlikon Milennium 35 mm system for close-in SAM capability would be a good "low" cost upgrade choice, for example.

    It's kind of sad that even old ships like the Hamiltons are such a large capability upgrade for the PN, but that's what happens when so many successive governments neglect the navy.

    It's definitely good to see that that neglect seems to finally have come to an end. I won't be fully satisfied until I see OPV's and frigates being built in Philippine shipyards, though.

    I'd love to see an article from you on how the Philippines could potentially establish and in-house opv and frigate program and what options might be good for that.

    Laurence

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    1. Hi Laurence

      Just out curiousity when the gov't buys decommissioned ships does it is come with blueprint (im thinking for maintenance)and the rights to build/manufacture these vessels?

      Don

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    2. Don, it depends on the deal. The Philippine Navy has blueprints on the Peacock/Jacinto-class ships.

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    3. Hi Don.

      That's a good question. I'm afraid I don't know the ins and outs of these deals, but I do know that the Philippines were given the blueprints for the Peacock/Jacinto Class vessels. It still befuddles me that the Philippines never developed and built its own OPV's for the coast guard and navy based on those blueprints.

      My guess would be that the handing over of blueprints depends on the specific deals, the relationship between the countries, the age of the decommissioned vessels, how sensitive the technology is still considered to be, and various other factors.

      Laurence

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  13. I agree that the positive outweighs the negative concerns at this time but hopefully PH should immediately start arming the WHEC with more weapons like missile & etc... so far only confirmed upgrade are the Mk 38 Mod 2 auto cannon which was ordered for the 2 cutters while the Harpoons, ASW capability are just rumor & speculations or so called "PLAN". or the WHECS are just large Bulls-Eye target for OPFOR ships which are equipped with long range missile.

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  14. That's why the pro's outweigh the cons in grabbing the ex-USCG Hamilton class cutters. They are light frigates and would give the PN basic introductions to Frigate operations. The PN needs to really learn all they can from the Hamilton class cutters because when you guys get a REAL Multi Role frigate, you'll have all the experience and knowledge gained from operating a Light frigate such as the Hamilton class cutters.

    If I was the PN, I would set aside some money and make a grab for two more Hamilton class cutters. Having two on station, one on training and one on standby. That way you have two frigates on standby ready to respond. One would be rotated on training and one would be ready to back up the other two.

    As far as arming the Hamiltons, the closes to the Hamiltons would be what the Columbian Navy has called the Almirante Padilla-class frigate and the Malaysian Navy has called the Kasturi-class frigate. If I was the PN I would arm the Hamilton class cutters in the same configuration as the Almirante Padilla-class frigate & the Kasturi-class frigate

    here's the Wiki on the light frigates
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almirante_Padilla_class_frigate
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasturi_class_frigate

    As far as getting a Multi Role Frigate, talk to the Brits on buying a used Type 22 or Type 23 Frigate. Getting a New one would break the Philippine bank accounts and getting a used one would get them started on Multi Role frigates.

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    1. I can't really argue with your last paragraph, but there were already allocated budgets for two new frigates. I'm not sure about it would break the Philippine bank with 7.8% GDP higher than China, and hopefully going stronger economic growth, I would be surprise if they'll double or triple the budget for AFP modernization next year.

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    2. Which is why if the PN can make a grab and get the last remaining Hamilton cutters and arm them in the same configuration as the Almirante Padilla-class frigate & the Kasturi-class frigate. They would have a Light frigate that can do ASW, ASUW and limited AAW. If I was the PN, I would look at how the Almirante Padilla-class frigate & the Kasturi-class frigate are armed and copy their system of arming those Light Frigates. As for the Hamilton cutters, they provide a good learning tool for the PN when they get Multi Role frigates in the Future. The Hamilton cutter will give them all the learning experience they can gain from the ship. By learning how to handle the Hamilton cutters, they will have the experience in the future to operate complex multi Role Frigates such as the FREMM and the Inchon class Frigate.

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  15. not to sound hypocrite but with all this money being use to purchase AH,CUH,LIFT and soon a new frigate ,,,why do we have starving filipinos on our streets? why healthcare isn't free just look at cuba.im not saying that we should not modernize our navy,airforce and so on because i want that to happened since were way behind i mean really behind other southeast asian nations when it comes to modernization.just a thought

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    1. So what are you trying to say? You agree that we need to modernize but we should not spend? What is your proposed solution? Pardon me but it is just annoying reading comments that does not add any value to the blog.

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    2. There is a separate fund for that. Just take a simple family for example, there are funds for food, healthcare, door locks, fence, education, clothing, shelter, etc. The government also works that way. There is no reason for the GRP to neglect its defense for social services.
      ahem, your being a hypocrite.

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    3. I don't think you're a hypocrite for raising that valid point. To me it is clear that the main reasons for there still being so many starving Filipinos is corruption and greed amongst politicians, govt. officials, and the very wealthy. And those are, imo, the same reasons for the AFP being in such a sorry state.

      Highly democratic nations that have comparatively small GDPs(in comparison to large, industrialized nations) , like, for example, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, demonstrate that you can both virtually eliminate poverty and have capable and credible armed forces. And virtually all nations that manage to strike this balance have one thing in common: a large, strong middle class and high levels of education.

      It is, however, impossible to achieve this balance if corruption is all-pervasive and the very wealthy are not adequately taxed and/or are able to evade the collection of taxes.

      One thing that also shouldn't be overlooked, is the fact that capable armed forces also protect a country's resources and wealth by protecting fishing and other economic activities, preventing smuggling and other related illegal activities, and by protecting the territorial space of a nation. With China acting like such a major bully and essentially trying to unjustly steal away the resources of other nations, it thus becomes an absolute necessity for the Philippines to have a credible armed forces in order to protect its territorial integrity. In an ideal world of friendly nations we wouldn't need armed forces and could rely merely on police and coast guards but, sadly, that world doesn't exist yet.

      Another point to consider is that an armed forces modernization program like the one the Philippines is attempting can also provide an economic boost, IF it is done right, as transfer of technology and in-country integration of weapons systems construction can advance a country's technological and managerial know-how and provide a boost to employment. Even if it is done right, it's likely not the most effective way to grow an economy, but, in the case of the Philippines, it is a necessity due to the Chinese Govt.'s belligerent actions.

      The economic aspect of it all is why it is hugely important to get the most "bang for the buck" during this modernization process and why one should always be paying attention to long-term operating costs of military equipment that one purchases or builds. This is also the reason why the Philippines should be constructing weapons systems in-country whenever feasible and where technologically possible, such as with future opv's and frigates.

      In conclusion, if the Philippines does things right, there should be no reason why it can't simultaneously build a credible armed forces and eliminate poverty as the Philippine economy continues to grow.

      Laurence

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    4. sounds like a comment coming from a sympathizer of the militants groups who share the same grievances of why are the gov't spending money on modernizing the AFP when the budget for modernization of AFP can feed starving people on the street, well first of all your comment is OFF TOPIC another starving people exist around the world there's no concrete solution to eradicate starvation lets be realistic this problem is somewhat part of life and its the dream of all people to eradicate poverty & starvation, BTW the gov't is not neglecting the less fortunate people ever heard of the conditional cash transfer program?

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    5. Exactly. That is why security should not be neglected to prioritize social services.
      Still, the guy acted like a hypocrite by saying that he doesn't want to be a hypocrite yet commenting a hypocritical comment.

      Delete
    6. @Laurence, very well said. And speaking of a balance national budget, as always, politicians gets the biggest and juiciest part of the cake.

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    7. Nothing is free and Cuba is a hell hole with respect to health care. Don't fall for the communist propaganda.

      Delete
  16. thanks again,max, for digesting hundreds of pages of discussion in the timawa defense forum. this blog is really very helpful especially to those who don't have the time and energy to browse through the lengthy yet intelligent discussions found in timawa. of course, a blog can only do so much. but you are doing a great job in keeping otherwise clueless people fairly informed. 2 thumbs up!

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    1. Who digested hundreds of pages of discussion? There is no such thing as exclusive access. Not all defense discussions go through a single group.

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    2. I am a member of the timawa forums. I for one would like to clarify that my ego isn't so bloated I label people "clueless" just because they don't participate on timawa. I'm also on PDFF, PEx and many other local forums along with numerous intelligent and well-informed Filipino defense enthusiasts. In the same way no one has a monopoly on access, neither can anyone anywhere claim a monopoly on intelligence. (Hubris is another story.)

      Keep up the good work, Max! Indeed, never mind the haters.

      Delete
    3. Not all things in the world can be found on a single source. Not because you're the oldest and most famous means you know everything. Just because you have several inside sources mean you can badmouth another information. A defense program will never be an exclusive knowledge of a single person,and there will always be somebody who knows something besides your so-called shoulder-tapper. It is expected that information can't be always right especially with the ever changing mindset of the people in the government and military, so everything can change anytime. There are still hundreds of people who know something in one way or another that are not members of these internet groups, so its not best to assume that because you know something, you are a member of a group or just get information from a single group.

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  17. -Qoute- BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), being launched in 1965 and commissioned with the US Coast Guard in 1967. That makes the ship 48 years old from launching. That even makes the ship probably older than the ship's current commanding officer (am I right Capt.Cruz & Cmdr. Orbe?)
    [note that the hamiltons did undergo Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization (FRAM) program during the 80's. Arguably, don't compare them with other 2nd hand ships (i.e. maestrale, OHP) since the latter did not undergo any ship refurbishments in the past.]
    -Qoute- The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) was also purchase for the same amount, although an additional $ 5 million was spent for the repair works and engine replacement.
    [no, the term "purchase" should not be used as they were given for free and we only spent for their refurbishment.]
    -Quote- Before the Gregorio del Pilar arrived, the PN's 3 largest surface warships are 70-year old World War 2 veterans, the BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11), the BRP Quezon (PS-70) and BRP Rizal (PS-74).
    [The Jacintos should be in this list. They are also part of the largest/most active vessels of the PN before the GDP.]
    -Qoute- Stories of the Oto Melara 76mm gun breakdown of the Jacinto-class ships and the lack of skilled specialists in the PN organization.
    Please note that this has been addressed already.
    -Qoute- The Hamilton-class ships were sold to the Philippines at a very low price.
    [Again, the term "sold/purchased" as they were only given to us at a 0$ price tag.]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Harold,
      1. Even if they underwent FRAM, it did not reduce the age of the ships, it only upgraded and extended the life of the ships. Between a newer ship that haven't underwent a mid-life update and an older ship that went though one, the newer ship would still be better.
      2. It was not donated. It was purchased. The deal included refurbishing as part of the package. Whatever the costs incurred by the US government on the ship, it is part of the deal.
      3. The blog only gave importance to the 3 largest combat ships, so even if the Jacintos are younger, they are not larger than the 3 ships mentioned. But do not be deceived by their age, they have better seakeeping capabilities than the 3 younger Jacintos.
      4. Yes it has been addressed a long time ago. But it does not mean similar incidents may not happen on other incoming systems that are not yet in PN service today. That is why this was given emphasis, for the PN to avoid similar mistakes that will require our technicians to ask for help from other countries again.
      5. See #2.

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    2. "They were only given to us at a 0$ price tag" SO WHY THE HELL WE SHED OFF $10,000,000.00(D O L L A R S!) For the first ship which is Del Pilar!!!!! AND HOW COME OUR PEOPLE FROM ACQUISITIONS DEPARTMENT RELEASED A STATEMENT THAT THEY WOULD RATHER USE THE FUNDS INTENDED FOR ACQUIRING JARVIS WHICH WAS INITIALLY OFFERED TO THE PHILIPPINES TO BETTER EQUIP THE FIRST TWO HAMILTONS, IF THEY CAN SIMPLY ACCEPT THE OFFER, BRING JARVIS TO OUR SHIPYARD, AND DEAL WITH THE FIRST TWO HAMILTONS...AT LEAST WE HAVE JARVIS WAITING FOR PROPER FUNDING. AND ADDED ASSET FOR OUR UNIFORMED SERVICEMEN. ISNT THAT MORE LOGICAL? THAT IS IF THEY WERE REALLY FREE!

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    3. If these (ships)are really for free, our people from the Dep't of National Defense must be CRAZY to let go of the other Hamilton may it be RUSH or JARVIS when they were initially offered to the Philippines, regardless of her condition in respect to sea worthiness.

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    4. ""“These are warships,” Gazmin said in a press conference. “They have antisubmarine capabilities and surface-to-air missiles. This is really for battle. We could get the frigates by November next year.”
      He said the frigates would be “more lethal” than the Hamilton-class cutters the US Coast Guard was selling to the Philippines."" Straight from the lead person in acquisition himself!
      -http://globalnation.inquirer.net/46263/a-first-philippines-to-buy-2-missile-warships-from-italy-dnd

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  18. 1. I did not compare it with newer ships. I responded to your statement when you compared it with other "hand-me-down" ships (i.e. OHP, Maestrale)that did not undergo FRAM. And Yes, it did not reduce the age of the ship but it rehabilitated and updated all its spaces.
    2. Per your response, it was a deal, a package deal for a transfer to be exact (through EDA). It was not sold, it was just transferred.
    3. Ok, but I disagree with the last sentence you've mentioned. There are no studies indicating that the Rizal Class is in much better condition compared to the Jacintos.
    4. I did not say that it wouldn't. I just emphasized that for the sake of informing the readers of your blog, it's a necessity to include IMPORTANT details such as that one.
    5. See #2.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Harold,
      1. My answer to you is comparing it with other surplus ships. Between a FRAM Hamilton and the original Maestrale, I will still choose the original Maestrale due to numerous reasons that will make this reply too long.
      2. It was sold via FMS. Even in the net you can find some sources: http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/3697-navy-s-fastest-ship-brp-gregorio-del-pilar, http://archives.pia.gov.ph/?m=7&r=NCR&id=48349&y=2011&mo=08
      3. It was not a study. It was a personal experience. I've been in the PF-11, PS-74 and PS-36 on several deployments on each ship before. And I believe the PS-36 has the worse seakeeping of the 3 classes.
      4. It was an example that the PN should not experience again. When the PN got the 3 Jacintos, it was the 1st time to own the such gun. They did not know how to repair because the PN did not have experience in repairing it. That's because they did not have this type of gun before. If the PN gets a lot of new systems from its current procurement system, it is highly possible that such will happen again, but it can be avoided if from the beginning the PN would sent its men to train for them.
      5. See #2.

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    2. When I said its part of the deal, it means that the Philippine government paid the US for the entire package. Whatever the US did to the ship like refurbishing, it does not matter. As long as in the end, the Philippine government will pay whatever is said on the contract.

      When the statement on the ship's age was made, it was to explain the Cons statement. There was no comparison made on that statement. Now I answered earlier that I prefer the Maestrale over the FREM'ed Hamilton because even during the ship's peak when it was FREM'ed and fully armed, the Maestrale-class still outperforms the ship as a frigate and in warfighting. The Hamilton's only advantage is its endurance and range.

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    3. AFP spokesman Commodore Miguel Jose Rodriguez said the talks for the acquisition of 2 Hamilton-class ships are on the “exploratory stage.”

      Rodriguez said these Coast Guard cutters are due to be decommissioned by the US. They were first introduced in 1975 but underwent refurbishing in 1989.

      "There is an opportunity because the United Sates will decommission these ships and then they are being offered to other countries. We will compete with other countries to buy (these ships)," the official said.

      The country already purchased one, worth P1.2 billion, due for delivery in August. A team of Navy officers are currently in the United States where they are conducting training on how to operate the ship.
      The acquisition was funded through the modernization program of the Philippine Navy.
      "If we get one class of ship and then there is an opportunity to get another as against a totally different ship, the tendency will be to get a sister ship," said Rodriguez.
      -http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/04/26/11/afp-eyeing-2-more-second-hand-us-ships
      FLAWS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR FLAWS...TSK TSK TSK.....

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  19. the price range is really low and the navy needed something now so this buy is not a bad deal if just to fill in the gaps the crooks did the AFP. so in the meantime 2 newer hamilton are now added to fill the much needed patrol duties in WPS. while hopefully more ships will be bought? remains to be seen, as the politicians prefer to beg than buy and pocket all the pork barrels etc.

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  20. We must petition these pork barrel-loving senators and congressmen to do their patriotic duty by spending their PDAF funds for our country's urgent territorial defense instead of questionable projects. So much money is wasted to cater for their vested interests and self enrichment schemes in the guise of providing aid to their constituencies. The PDAF funds should be put into better use. Some of these legislators have even the gall of being commissioned as reserve officers in the AFP. Its high time that they contribute efforts and funds towards patriotic undertakings. PDAF for our country's defense and no to ghost projects!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why not try stsrting with Sen. Trillanes (former navyman), Sen. Honasan, and the Magdalo party list and other ex-military congressmen? If they can fund another Hamilton thst would be good enough

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  21. I've already expressed my preference for the Maestrales over the Hamilton-class frigates here on the previous articles but the fact remains that what we have now are the latter and so the issue is really water under the bridge now. I just hope that the "budget", they say we forwent for the supposed 3rd Hamilton class in favor of the weapons upgrade for the 2 ships of the same class we now have, be really used for such purpose (and that they'd get it rolling NOW not later) and not be diverted somewhere else. I'd be satisfied and proud to have these old USCG frigates now (no matter how meager) as long as they will be armed and capable enough to be an offensive threat to other OPFOR; and, at the same time, have the necessary armaments, electronic warfare systems and sensors to defend themselves from incoming threats. I hope and pray they could try to get it done this year before it gets too late. - Jasper

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jasper, there is no doubt the Maestrales are more capable than the Hamiltons. But we let the Maestrales go (not totally the DND's fault). But the Hamiltons are better than the BRP Rajah Humabon or Rizal and Malvar class ships. Besides that, they are very cheap for their size and capability. So why not get more, while also getting new and more capable assets? Armed or nor with missiles, the Hamiltons are still a welcome addition to the ageing fleet.

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    2. then whos to blame if the maestrale is the better choice. why they let it go, those plunderer people should answer to the filipino people for the betrayal of their country. thats why up to now i dont believe afp modernztion will be a success. maybe they could buy some equipment & hardware but the capability will be doubtful and inferior compare to our asean neighbor. its been almost 20 yrs now since the last time i heard the roaring thunder of our jets in the sky . max up to know i still dream that someday i could feel the sonic boom and the vibration of the ground by the passing of our proud airmen. god help our country!!!

      Delete
  22. How likely do you think the navy will get USCGS Rush?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very likely if still available next year.

      Delete
    2. Rush is reportedly for decommissioning this year. Gallatin next year but the Nigerians are interested with her.

      Delete
  23. So Ramon Alcaraz is going to be dry docked for 2 months. So long....maybe that's when they'll install anti-ship missiles ~.~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where did you get that information? Ramon arriving in the first week of August dry dock and ready to be commission by 2nd week of Sept. or end of Sept to make it certain all those equipment in place. We waited for about a year to get it right, training of personnel’s etc. Patient!

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    2. Every way you look at it ,purchasing the WHEC Hamilton is a " bang for the bucks". Refurbishing and rearming this class just like the USS Mellon would be a good base for the Philippine navy modernization program. Yes it is an old platform used by the US Coast Guard to its limits . But it tells you one thing it's been tested and proven of its sea worthiness . 4 ships of this class upgraded and maintained plus its compliment of air cover and ASW would be good deterrent .

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    3. Surprisingly the dock time is shorter than that of BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which arrived in August 2011. and commissioned in December 2011. If there are complicated systems like missiles to be added, I doubt it to be installed in the Philippines.

      Delete
    4. Is the Huntington Ingalls-Hanjin tie-up in Subic up to the job of installing a missile-ready combat management system locally?

      Also congrats on the citations in the Star and Inquirer. I have long followed your conversations with 'General Beegeagle' with interest.

      Delete
  24. it's gonna be 1st week of October

    ReplyDelete
  25. Max, congratulations again! Looks like you are becoming the go to guy in defense for several news network now: Inquirer qouted you again:

    http://globalnation.inquirer.net/82367/why-the-hamilton-class-ships-are-worth-it-military-defense-experts

    ReplyDelete
  26. GO MAX!!!!!! GOOD JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    - "I would never under estimate a fighting heart. Submarines? Why not. Just my opinion! But what do I know?"
    -"FLAWS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR FLAWS...TSK TSK TSK...."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Submarines are not really impossible, the PN plans to have some in their desired mix plan. It's just up to the government to support such plan.

      Delete
  27. You are right,Max. Let's buy another 2 Hamilton class if we can....May BRP RAjah Humabon rest in peace...

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  28. its better than we dont have...rajah humabon is a frigates and a destroyer he is the one of the powerful war ship in the world...

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  29. the rearming of 2 WHEC must be done immediately b 4 pnoy term end.

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  30. I also believe procuring more whec's is the way to go for the pn and/or the pcg. You summed it all up max, the pros just outweighs the cons. If we had accepted uscg jarvis when it was offered, we would have 3 patrol frigates by next year. I just hope the govt wont waste the oppurtunity on the other whecs in line for decommissioning. Although the proposal of upgunning each ship would probably cost more than the acquisition of the ship itself.

    Keep up the good work max.

    To Harold, lighten up dude. You dont need to prove yourself to much.

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  31. My brother is a retired Commander US navy. He visited the Philippines with the 7th Fleet. I discussed the Hamilton purchase with him and he said that they were good for the Filipino Navy because they had diesels- much easier to keep up than gas turbines. Even his ship had problems with gas turbines and it might be too much for the Filipino Navy.

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  32. There should not even be any debate on this WHECs. At the price we are getting them, we should acquire as many of them as possible and worry about arming them later. These ships have already proven themselves in the high seas as stated in the blog. A once in a generation opportunity we shouldn't let pass. Manuel

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  33. i think it's better to acquire one for coast guard because china is sending a bunch of their white ships in WPS... we keep on takin our ships such as the brp gregorio del pilar out because we didnt want to raise tensions.. i think its better to acquire a hamilton for our coast guard so that we can at least fight back using water cannons... we can operate it together with the 10 patrol ships from japan that should be equipped with strong water cannons and some guns.

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  34. i think this should be acquired for our coast guard because china is sending only their white ships equipped with water cannons and some guns... we cant go against them using our gray ships because that will raise tension... thats why a hamilton class ship should be acquired for our coast guard.. we can have a water cannon fight with them without us being hurt because of the size of this ship.. just my opinion.. something to take into consideration ��

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  35. In my own opinion the Philippine navy need to purchase more than 8 Hamilton-class WHEC but including their original yet fixed weapons and radar sonar system so that we can ensures that every purchase we can get a better ships that capable of engaging ships,aircraft,submarine,missiles,sea mines and even ICBM!.

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