Your 1st for Philippine Defense

Monday, June 19, 2017

Unannounced and Upcoming Ship Retirements with the Philippine Navy - BRP Iloilo, BRP Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo and BRP Rajah Humabon

MaxDefense has consistently been discussing the impending retirement of older assets as they become less capable in safely and efficiently conducting their duties to secure and defend the Philippines' territorial waters, exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and interests in the East and West Philippine Seas. As a ship ages, the hull becomes more stressed and its technology becomes obsolete.There will come a time where repair and replacement becomes financially not viable, or sometimes even impossible due to excessive damage or stress.

Japanese sailors return the salute to the men and women of BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) during a recent Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with the JMSDF. It also is a way of saying "Thank You" and "Goodbye", something related to the upcoming retirement of the ship.
Photo taken from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force's FB page.

As we speak, the Philippine Navy is not only having rapidly ageing, or too aged ships and equipment in its fleet and arsenal, but also reduced numbers due to retirement without replacement. MaxDefense last reported about the retirement of BRP Iloilo (PS-32), which MaxDefense sources confirmed to have happened in September 2016. The BRP Iloilo is a Miguel Malvar-class patrol vessel / Patrol Craft Escort (PCE) which was in service with the Philippine Navy from 1948 to 2016, and was indirectly replaced by the Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) which was commissioned on July 2016. But in reality the Andres Bonifacio is actually an asset which was supposed to increase the fleet numbers of the Philippine Navy to what it was in the 1980s when it has more than 6 "frigates" (consisting of destroyer escorts and high endurance cutters) at its disposal.

The BRP Iloilo (PS-32), which was seen here as of February 2017 without its weapon and sensors systems, and was said to awaiting disposal as its useful parts were "transplanted" to its active sisterships. The ships was confirmed by sources as decommissioned in September 2016.
Photo credited and owned by Cdr. Alfred  Kenneth Tingabngab, PN (ret.), who allowed us to be used @ MaxDefense Philippines, and first appeared in our Facebook page post last February 6, 2017.

But it appears that no major publicly available media outlet or website, not even MaxDefense Philippines, was able to report on the retirement of another asset of the Philippine Navy, specifically the Littoral Combat Force (LCF) which is in charge of inshore naval patrol and support.

Retirement of BRP Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140)

With the shoulder-tap from one of our community member - contributor who shared a photo, MaxDefense Philippines checked with sources to confirm what appears to be another Philippine Navy ship that is stripped off its weapons and appears to be in very poor physical condition and awaiting disposal.

The BRP Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140) seen here in better times in June 2011.
Photo owned and credited to Mr, James Gabriel Verallo, and was taken from his Flickr account.

It turns out, and confirmed by naval sources of MaxDefense, that the BRP Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140), the lead ship and last ship remaining in service of the Heneral Emilio Aguinaldo-class inshore patrol vessel, has already been decommissioned from Philippine Navy service. While there is no confirmation yet on the actual date of decommissioning, it could have happened sometime in mid 2016 based on the information below.

BRP Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo was shown here as of June 7, 2017 in Cebu. It was already stripped off its weapon systems, and still useful parts that could be used by other ships in the fleet.
Photo owned and credited to ship spotter MBB8356 / Mark Baylon, whose photos were taken from his Flickr page.

Another check of photos from our contributor showed that the ship appears to still be with complete weapons and sensors systems, even up to the bridge glass curtains as of April 2015.

It appears that there were already pre-cursor information that we have received as early as April 2016 in our MaxDefense Philippines @ Facebook community page, wherein one of our community members who worked on the assessment of the ship's condition confirmed that the BRP Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo has a very poor hull condition, and was checked as having thousands of holes in its hull while dry-docked in Cebu. A photo of the PG-140's hull was shared by one of our MaxDefense community members but we believe it is best not to post it publicly. Prior to its dry-docking, the ship was said to have been stripped off its weapons and sensors, conducted build-up welding to keep her afloat, and was towed from Cavite to Cebu. This could have been a reason for its sudden retirement, as the ship is considered unsafe to use.

Considering that the photo above of the stripped PG-140 which was also taken in Cebu, the ship did not sail anymore since then and was just brought to its current resting place while awaiting for decision on how to dispose the hull.

BRP Hen. Emilio Aguinaldo is seen here with BRP Boni Serrano (PG-111) in Cebu as of April 2015. Back then she appears to still be in service put is limited in conducting patrols within calmer interior waters.
Photo owned and credited to Mr. John Carlos Cabanillas, whose photo was taken from his Flickr page.

Upcoming Retirement of BRP Rajah Humabon:

As early as last year, MaxDefense has already mentioned in some of its comment posts in the MaxDefense Philippines @ Facebook community page, that there were already unconfirmed information coming out that BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) the former flagship of the Philippine Navy, will be the next to retire.

As confirmed by several MaxDefense sources, this plan to retire the old rajah from service is finally coming into reality.

The Philippine Navy is scheduled to finally decommission the 74-year old destroyer escort by 4th quarter of 2017, most probably between September and November 2017.

The BRP Rajah Humabon is formerly the US Navy destroyer escort USS Atherton. In this photo, USS Atherton was seen in action during World War 2, dropping depth charges while hunting for the German submarine U-853, which she is credited of destroying. This makes the ship among the only active warship in the world credited of sinking an enemy submarine.
Photo taken from's website.

Signs were already coming out of her impending retirement, including the bypass of her scheduled dry-docking which should have been made either in 2015 or 2016. In comparison, as mentioned in our posts a few days ago at the MaxDefense Philippines @ Facebook page, the scheduled dry-docking of BRP Pangasinan (PS-31), BRP Magat Salamat (PS-20) and BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) were signs that they would be staying in service longer. The Philippine Navy would not spend more money on ships that are retiring anytime, and the release of Invitation to Bid to dry-dock and repair them confirms their continued service.

Another sign happened last year, when the Philippine Navy started implementing a new hull numbering and classification system. The new classification downgraded the BRP Rajah Humabon from a frigate (PF-11) to a patrol vessel (PS-11), instead of retaining it as a frigate with the anticipated hull number FF-11.

Based on information received by MaxDefense, the BRP Rajah Humabon is currently operating only as a ceremonial ship used to welcome visiting foreign warships entering Manila Bay, represent the Philippine Navy in PASSEX, and is used as a training ship.

The BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) as seen here conducting Passing Exercises (PASSEX) with the JS Izumo, currently Japan's largest warship, just before it leaves the Philippines a few days ago. BRP Rajah Humabon was also the PN ship that escorted the Japanese flotilla when it arrived for a goodwill visit to the Philippines.
Photo taken from Japan Maritime Self Defense Force's FB page.

The ship was found to be beyond economic repair, as signs of ageing has already affected the integrity of the ship's hull and frame, as well as on the actual physical condition of the ship. This is not to mention the obsolescence of all its working subsystems including weapons, sensors, mechanical and electrical, electronics, and hydraulics.

Another reason to retire the ship is more of an emotional decision, to drive the Philippine Navy to strive harder in acquiring newer assets and modernize the fleet. It is a sign of renewal in the Philippine Navy's mindset of maintaining obsolete assets instead of replacing them with new ones.

The impending retirement is also in anticipation on the arrival of the Philippine Navy's upcoming new asset, the Pohang-class corvette formerly known as ROKS Chungju of the Republic of Korea Navy, which is also scheduled to arrive sometime between September and October 2017.

There is currently no information yet on what the Philippine Navy intends to do with the ship once it retires, despite calls by many enthusiasts and former crew members of the ship (while in service with the US Navy and Philippine Navy, and probably with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force where she served after World War 2) to convert her into a museum or display ship. Based on observations alone, it is highly unlikely to be converted to a museum, as it means the Philippine Navy will be pushed to allocate funding to it while they are already having problems obtaining funding for active serving warships to be at sea.

Below is a video taken and posted by David Grindley on Youtube, showing the BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) entering Subic Bay. This is probably among the last pristine video you may find of the ship as it goes for retirement in a few months time.

MaxDefense will definitely post any updates on the BRP Rajah Humabon's retirement, as well as any other related information to the plan, which will be made available in our Facebook community page.


  1. Hi Sir Max, I hope they would convert the Rajah Humabon into a Museum ship and put her in a solid drydock like the one used in HMS Victory, for me it would be a one-time construction but it would definitely save them lots of money in the long run while giving our countrymen prude of touring the ship and keeping her legacy intact

    1. I think much better to position in phil rise(benham rise)

  2. Please don't retire the rajah humabon!

    1. That ship was built before WWII ended. Has to be done.

  3. How about offering it back to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force as a token of their longstanding friendship since it was formerly named Hatsuhi during its service with the Japanese navy . I'm quite sure they should have no problems with funds and it still worth keeping it afloat as a museum . This way if ever the JMSDF maybe looking for a home for their Abukuma class in the future it may hopefully finds its home with the PN .

  4. Just retired and scrap it. No need to be sad and emotional about this ship. Just remember the contribution it make for you country. The molten steel should be used for building infrastructure and to improve the economy and the livelihood of the Filipino.

    1. With your comment above I believe you do not have the "pagpapahalaga sa bagay- bagay" the Humabon might be an old ship but she is a strong if you think of scraping it for money better get of this thread..

    2. ilya chan might as well be in the scrap metal business , hence the remark! :) kilo kilo ba? LOL

  5. 70+ years... She is a good ship. An institution on her own right... Farewell BRP Rajah Humabon. And Thank You

  6. I wonder if the remaining crew of former USS Atherton have any plans to re-acquire her back to the States, reinstate her original configuration (1x quad 1.1"/75 AA gun, 3x 21" torpedo tubes, Hedgehog mortars and Mk. 6 and Mk. 9 depth charges) as Destroyer Escort and turned into a museum.


  7. The best for floating museum, for him to signify his great contributions

  8. A museum ship costs resources, in particular, a lot of money. Imagine the cost of repairing the hull of the Humabon, just to make it safe for tourists. It's rusted and rotted over the decades; the mere fact that it is no longer capable of sailing beyond shallow water tells a lot about its poor condition.

    That money could be better spent on refurbishing the soon-to-be-acquired Pohang corvette (and the João Coutinho corvettes, if the government considers them). Or improving the sensors and defense systems of our newly-acquired transport ships, the Tarlac and Davao del Sur. These are in bad need of CIWS and countermeasures, as they are currently unarmed, lack sonar, and only have basic radar.

    I suggest it be sold for scrap. Maybe to Bangladesh or India, which have a big shipbreaking industries.

  9. Do you think its still worth arming our snall ships or military installations with old surface to air missile defense system such as MIM 72. (It might come cheap) I mean we have old sidewinder missiles and its such a waste if we are going to dispose them and would somehow have doubt if we are still going to use it in our new jets. Because the procurement of new AIM 9 missile variant is already in the pipeline. Taiwan installed such system in their frigate/s. Although the country is planning to procure a surface to air defense system, I doubt if the numbers are sufficient enough. This system could be a temporary stop gap solution or an added air defense protection.

  10. Will the guided missile frigates still push through? And if so, how many more do you think the PN eyes?

  11. I hope the Government will convert BRP Rajah Humabon as a museum ship. It is for us to know and acknowledge her legacy and for the next generation be able to see and tour the ship personally.

  12. I hope the Government will convert BRP Rajah Humabon as a museum ship. It is for us to know and acknowledge her legacy and for the next generation be able to see and tour the ship personally.

  13. I think it should be a museum ship beside the landing of gen. macarthur in leyte. It can increase tourist visit in the area and boost the moral of the Filipinos. When it comes to financial maintenance it should come from donations and gov. assistance.


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