|The US-designed and made LCU-1610, which is the basis of the Korean LCU-70 and LCU-80 classes.|
Photo taken from WW2LCT.org website.
MaxDefense sources confirmed that the navy is not getting an LST, and the reports are correct that the Philippine Navy (PN) is indeed getting an excess LCU from South Korea of the LCU-70 Mulgae-class, a Korean version of a US designed LCU-1610. It is expected to arrive before the end of the year if the deal runs smoothly.
These are made by Korea Tacoma using a design provided by Tacoma Boatbuilding Company of the US, thus the transfer to the Philippines may require US government approval, which was actually confirmed by DND officials in one report. This class are being replaced by newer Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC) by the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) on amphibious operation use, and are currently relegated to minor transport roles. Some units were already decommissioned, while others are scheduled for decommissioning which may include the unit for transfer.
|ROKN LCU-77, an example of the older Mulgae-class LCU. A similar craft is scheduled for transfer to the PN soon.|
Being a small amphibious craft, its limited dimension does not allow carrying more than 200 troops as reported earlier, and the absence of a helicopter landing pad due to size constraints also cancels out helicopter operations. A report from another news organization taken from Philippine Navy spokesman Cmdr. Gregory Fabic confirms MaxDefense's information that the ship for transfer is indeed an LCU.
According to open sources, the LCU has the following specifications in its present state:
Dispacement: 415 tons
Dimensions (Length x Beam x Draft): 41.1m x 8.8m x 1.8m
Range: 560 nautical miles
Speed (maximum): 13 knots
They are currently armed with Oerlikon 20mm guns similar to some of the Philippine Navy's older ships, although the newer versions are armed with 20mm Sea Vulcan turrets similar to those found in the Philippine Navy's Tomas Batillo-class and Conrado Yap-class patrol boats. It would still be possible that the landing crafts will be transferred without its armaments, depending on the negotiation between the Philippine and South Korean governments.
|ROKN's LCU-76, transporting KM-250 trucks which the AFP also has.|
Photo taken from baba1905 blog @ Daum.net.
MaxDefense is still awaiting further confirmation on the said transfer. Also, it would be noted that MaxDefense previously received confirmations from DND sources that the Philippine government was asking for more excess defense material transfers from the South Korean government as grants or for bargain sale, which includes combat and transport naval assets, and this LCU transfer may just be the beginning of the said request.
LCUs in Philippine Navy Service:
The Philippine Navy has been operating LCUs for many years, and currently it operates 5 LCUs from 3 distinct classes. It still operates 3 WW2-era LCUs of the American LCU-1466 class, the BRP Subanon (AT-291), BRP Bagobo (AT-293), and BRP Tausug (AT-295).
It also operates 2 new large locally-made LCUs, the BRP Manobo (BU-297) and the BRP Tagbanua (AT-296), both units are the first of their own class.
|The BRP Tausug (AT-295) of the Philippine Navy, formerly a US LCU-1466 class used by the US military.|
Photo taken from Wikimedia.
July 1, 2015:
The Philippine Navy is now in possession of a Mulgae-class landing craft-utility (LCU) from South Korea. The ship, formerly LCU-78 of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN), is now in Cavite and will be undergoing repair and refurbishing locally. According to our source, the ship looks battered from the outside, with rust, broken equipment, missing items, and needs repainting. But mechanically the ship needs minor repairs only and is in working condition. It appears that the Philippine Navy will shoulder the refurbishing works on the landing craft.
Also delivered were rubber boats as promised by the Korean government last year, although no word if the news on donated computers were also among those that arrived.
|Mulgae-class LCU from South Korea, formerly the ROKN LCU-78, is now in Cavite awaiting for refurbishing and repair works.|
The Philippine Navy has not yet floated a name for the ship once it gets commissioned, but following its naming practices, it would probably be named after a Filipino tribe. Guesses, anyone?
June 22, 2016:
MaxDefense sources confirmed as early as 1st quarter of 2016, that the Mulgae-class LCU donated by South Korea, the former ROKS LCU-78, was found to be in very poor condition by contractors hired by the Philippine Navy to inspect the ship, as well as by its own ship maintenance teams.
Although there is no reports surfacing to the media yet, MaxDefense found out that the navy's leadership has decided not to refurbish and repair the Korean LCU, and instead will be scrapped to at least return some salvage value after the PN spent more than Php 25 million for its transport from South Korea to Cavite. All previous announcements to procure parts as posted on PhilGEPS did not proceed, and were eventually cancelled.
As of April, 2016, PN sources confirmed that the ship was still in Cavite and no work was done until then. Photo of the ship can be seen in the Timawa Philippine Defense Forum.
While the ship was delivered to the Philippines as early as June 2015, the Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) from Australia came at a later date but all 5 are now fully commissioned and in already utilized by the Philippine Navy, which is an indication of the poor state of which this Korean LCU is in.