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Friday, February 22, 2019

Is the Philippines Navy's BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) Next on the Retirement Queue?

MaxDefense received a shoulder tap lately that another major surface ship of the Philippine Navy will be retiring soon.

Based on the information we received and validated by different sources, the next ship on the axe is the Malvar-class patrol vessel, BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22).

The ship was suppose to have its major dry-dock works last 2017, but apparently it did not happen. And now the Philippine Navy leadership decided to just retire it as part of the PN’s Sail Plan 2020, which aims to retire all its World War 2-era warships and surface assets by 2020.

The Malvar-class patrol vessel BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) together with a Point-class patrol boat BRP Abraham Campo (PC-396) in Mactan, Cebu in 2010.
Photo taken by and credited to Mike Baylon, directly taken by MaxDefense from Navsource. 

Brief History:

BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) was originally a PCE-842-class patrol craft escort of the US Navy, which was commissioned in October 1944 as PCE-895, and served in the remaining years of World War 2. She was renamed as USS Crestview (PCE-895) in February 1956, and was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam Navy in November 1961.

As the US Navy patrol craft escort USS PCE-895 during World War 2 (top), and as the USS Crestview (PCE-895) taken in 1955 (above).
Photos taken from Navsource. 

In South Vietnamese service, she was named Dong Da Il (HQ-07) and served from 1961 to 1975. The ship was among those that escaped Vietnam after South Vietnam fell to North Vietnamese forces. Legally, the US government took possession of the ship despite being docked in the US Navy base at Subic Bay.

As the Republic of Vietnam Navy patrol vessel Dong Da II (HQ-07) taken in South Vietnam in 1971.
Photo taken from Navsource.

Out of practicality, the US handed-over the ship to the Philippine Navy in April 1976, and was named RPS Sultan Kudarat (PS-22). She is considered one of the oldest fighting ships in service anywhere in the world, being in service for more than 74 years now, 43 years of it with the Philippine Navy.  She currently serves with the Philippine Fleet’s Offshore Combat Force.

As the Philippine Navy ship BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) during post-repair sea trials in Subic Bay in 1989.
Photo taken from Navsource.

Expected Fate:

Like most of her sister-ships that served the Philippine Navy, BRP Sultan Kudarat might be used as a parts hulk for the remaining sister-ships still in service. If we follow the usual way the Philippine Navy disposes retired ships, her hull might be sold-off as scrap and the PN could use the sale for other purposes. 

But MaxDefense’s opinion is that this could change, as it could also be possible for the PN to use the hulk as a target ship as part of a Sinking Exercise (SINKEX) once the new Jose Rizal-class frigates, armed with the LIGNex1 SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missile, gets commissioned starting 2020.

Let’s see when exactly will this happen, although our information was that the retirement may happen “very soon”.

BRP Sultan Kudarat's hulk as a SINKEX target? Who knows, it may happen.
Photo taken from Youtube.

Same Issue on Lack of Replacements:

This upcoming retirement of BRP Sultan Kudarat highlights an issue that MaxDefense has been saying for several years now: that the Philippine Navy is retiring it's assets without a replacement.

Normally in other navies, a ship only retires when a replacement is already on it's way. In the case of BRP Sultan Kudarat, it is unclear what replacement will be coming to cover the Navy's capabilities by it's retirement.

MaxDefense compiled the retirements made by the Philippines Navy since 2015 to show our point in a clearer manner, and we will only focus on surface combatants above 100 tons and not transport or amphibious support vessels:

* BRP Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo (PG-140) Aguinaldo-class inshore patrol vessel - early 2016
* BRP Gen. Antonio Luna (PG-141) Aguinaldo-class inshore patrol vessel - April 2016

* BRP Iloilo (PS-32) Malvar-class patrol vessel - September 2016
* BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) Cannon-class destroyer escort(frigate) - 2018
* BRP Dionisio Ojeda (PC-117) Tomas Batilo-class fast attack craft - mid 2018
* BRP Bienvenido Salting (PC-112) Tomas Batilo-class fast attack craft - October 2018

* BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF-17) Del Pilar-class frigate - July 2016 - apparently the direct replacement of BRP Iloilo (PS-32)
* BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) Pohang-class corvette - estimated April 2019 - apparently the direct replacement of BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11)

The BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) (top), which retired last year, will be directly replaced by the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) (above) which is expected to be commissioned by April 2019 at the earliest.
Photos taken from Wikipedia (top) and to an uncredited source (above).

Based on this, it can be seen that the Philippine Navy has lost 4 major assets, mostly from the Littoral Combat Force, without a direct replacement.

And while the Philippine Navy is expected to receive 2 frigates between 2020 and 2021, and 2 corvettes and 6 offshore patrol vessels between 2022 to 2024, the service is also bound to lose 4 more Malvar-class and 2 Rizal-class patrol vessels before 2021. Thus, there would be a backlog of 4 offshore-capable ships starting 2021 until 2024, that's if the Philippine Navy will not retire more ships in its fleet like the Kagitingan-class inshore patrol vessels.

Aside from the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), the only other sure major surface warships coming in for commissioning by 2020 is the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) frigate committed by South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries for delivery by early 2020.
Photo taken from HHI's website.

The only way at the moment to provide a short to medium-term solution and avoid the backlog is for the Philippine Navy to introduce used warships by 2020. 

Also, the Philippine Navy has no littoral assets coming in within the Horizon 2, although MaxDefense received information that a friendly foreign government, most likely the US government, is offering littoral patrol boats that could be used to replace the retired ones. But a proposal remains nothing else but paper until the first boats arrive. And until that happens, the absence of a solid plan means for everyone to expect no new assets for the Littoral Combat Force.

For now, all we can do is wait for the Philippine Navy to actually retire the BRP Sultan Kudarat from active service, and hope that they would have a good news to bring once they do the retirement. Replacing them with another Pohang-class corvette or Hamilton-class cutter would be very much welcomed.


  1. There will be 2 frigate follow up order with HHI with OPV near agreement already. 2 to 3 pohang will be coming. No CAP. While submarine 1 to 2 inplace of cap. 2 to 3 SSV longer length with tarlac convert to hospital with davao upgrade lengthen. All will be arm 4omm dual gun and 20mm with missile

  2. Russia is selling completed frigates with no engines

  3. No news of the Maestrale-class frigate from Italian Navy?

    1. its been scrapped by aquino because new frigates are better than second hand


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