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Monday, January 20, 2020

Philippine Navy's BRP Rizal (PS-74) Retiring Soon


As the Philippine Navy's Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad recently announced in his press statement, that the Philippine Navy is short of ships that will allow them to have the capability to patrol and defend our vast waters, MaxDefense Philippines received news that the Philippine Navy is preparing to retire another warship and a fast attack craft soon.

The warship is one of the Philippine Navy's major surface assets and among the longest serving ships in the fleet.

This ship is no other than the Rizal-class patrol vessel, the BRP Rizal (PS-74).


The BRP Rizal (PS-74), taken in 2018. Photo taken from the BRP Rizal's Facebook page.

The Journey from USS Murrelet (AM-372) to BRP Rizal (PS-74):


The BRP Rizal (PS-74) was formerly the US Navy Auk-class minesweeper USS Murrelet (AM-372) first commissioned with the US Navy in 24 August 1945. Although it was too late for the ship to see action in World War II, the USS Murrelet was assigned to sweep mines remnants from the war along Japanese and Korean waters in 1946.

The ship saw action during the Korean War in 1951 to 1952, conducting maritime patrols and minesweeping operations before returning to the US mainland in 1952. She was again reassigned in Korea in 1953. The ship received 5 Battle Stars for its service in the Korean War, before she was reclassified as a Fleet Minesweeper with hull number MSF-372 in 1955, and decommissioned from US Navy service in 1957. 



As the USS Murrelet (AM-372). Photo taken from Wikipedia.

The ship was transferred to the Philippine Navy as part of US Military Assistance Program, and was commissioned on 18 June 1965 as the fleet minesweeper RPS Rizal (E-69), names after the Rizal province rather than the national hero.



As RPS Rizal (PS-69) in the 1960s. Photo taken from Navsource.

That makes her a almost 55 years in service with the Philippine Navy, and over 75 years old in active service with any naval service!

She was reclassified the Philippine Navy in 1966 as a patrol ship with hull number changed to PS-69. In the Philippine Navy, due to its previous US Navy designated as MSF, the ship together with its sistership the BRP Quezon (PS-70) were unofficially called "Minesweeping Frigates".

After a long service with the Philippine Navy, the ship should have been replaced decades ago, with the original plan was for it to retire in 1994. But due to lack of sufficient naval assets, the ship was rehabilitated and brought back to service as the BRP Rizal (PS-74) in 1995.


BRP Rizal in 2016. Photo taken from Wikipedia.
And with the Philippine Navy's Sail Plan 2020 in place, it was decided that ship will be among those for retirement from service before the end of 2020. MaxDefense received information that the tentative schedule of decommissioning ceremonies will be on 29 January 2020, subject to change depending on situation.

Currently, the ship is among the mainstays of the Offshore Combat Force, Philippine Fleet.


BRP Rizal's current badge. Photo taken from BRP Rizal's Facebook page.

Replacements?


Following the concept of 1:1 replacement, it appears that the BRP Rizal (PS-74) does not have an actual replacement. 

But sources in the Philippine Navy believes that the upcoming frigate for delivery in the next few months, the first of the Jose Rizal-class frigate. the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) could be it.
The upcoming frigate, the future BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) is said to be BRP Rizal's successor although the Philippine Navy appears to not follow the concept of 1:1 replacement due to more retirements than commissioning of major surface assets between 2010 and 2020. Credits to original source of photo.
This is based on the premise that the 4 retired Malvar-class (ex-USN PCE) patrol vessels from 2010 to 2019 were replaced by the 3 Hamilton-class cutters acquired from the US Coast Guard, which are now known as the Del Pilar-class ocean patrol vessels. And the last destroyer escort of the Philippine Navy, the former BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) was replaced by the Pohang-class corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39).

MaxDefense has no objection on the idea of the ship being retired, as we believe that the Philippine Navy should have the ship rested back in 1994 and instead tried its best to get a newer replacement.

But with the Philippines in a poorer security situation compared to 1994, the Philippine Navy should have instead used the ship a little longer until more newer assets are available. This is to allow the Philippine Navy to have sufficient assets to conduct patrols and maritime security operations.

While there are already plans to acquire additional Pohang-class corvettes from South Korea, the DND and the Philippine Navy has not moved quick to secure them yet despite South Korea having at least 2 recently retired ships available for the taking.

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MaxDefense will be monitoring the planned retirement of BRP Rizal, and post on our social media page if the event takes place. Until then, we do hope that the Philippine Navy will try its best to pursue ways to keep its operational capabilities in check despite the reduced number of ships in its fleet.

With the upcoming retirement, it is not too far off that its sistership, BRP Quezon (PS-70) will be up for retirement very soon, most likely within the year. MaxDefense will monitor these developments as well.



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First edit and release: 20 January 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

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