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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Philippine Naval Special Operations Group receives 1st batch of new Fast Boats

The Philippine Navy (PN) has recently received the initial deliveries of new Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) that it acquired for the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) under its Fast Boat Acquisition Project.

Three of the six newly delivered RHIBs that arrived as the first batch of Fast Boats for the Philippine Navy. Photo exclusively shared to MaxDefense Philippines.

The project, which is funded under the 2nd List of Horizon 1 phase, was meant to provide the NAVSOG's Special Boat Unit (SBU) with new additional boats to complement older fast boats in service, while also increasing its operational capabilities.

The Fast Boat Acquisition Project:

The Philippine Navy included the acquisition of thirty (30) brand new fast boats for the NAVSOG SBU under the proposed PATROL BOAT LIGHT ACQUISITION PROJECT as part of the 2nd List of Horizon 1 phase, with a proposed budget of Php450 million., or around Php15 million for each boat.

This was later revised due to budget issues, with the Philippine Navy renaming the project as the FAST BOAT ACQUISITION PROJECT, with a reduced budget of only Php300 million for twenty (20) brand new boats.

The initial basic technical requirements were as follows:

* Length:                    Function of design
* Beam:                      Function of design
* Draft:                       0.50-0.60 meters
* Displacement:         Function of design
* Speed:                     Not less than 45 knots at full throttle at full load
* Range:                    150-200 nautical miles
* Complement:          3 boat crew + 8 passengers
* Gun Mount:             1 x .50 cal machine gun (front)
* Hull Type:                Function of design (not wooden)
* Propulsion:              At least 2 diesel-powered outboard motors
* Seaworthiness:        Operate at Sea State 2, Survive at Sea State 3
* Delivery Period:      12 months

This requirement will become the basis although it can be further improved. One example is the gun mount, which was later on increased from one mount to three mounts (1 front, 2 rear).

Several proposals were floated during the planning stage, which includes options using a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) design, and several options using Fibre-Reinforced Plastic (FRP aka Fibreglass) and Aluminium hull designs.

All options vary in size, displacement, speed, range, complement, propulsion, delivery times and cost.

The cheapest appears to be similar to the FRP-hulled boats, made locally and used by Philippine National Police Maritime Group (PNP-MG) with 3 outboard motors, which can be acquired for less than Php4 million each. The most expensive option includes the US-made Small Unit Riverine Craft (SURC) which is used by the Philippine Marine Corps and US Marine Corps, and the US Special Operations Craft - Riverine (SOC-R) used by the US Navy which cost around Php35 million each.

Among the options raised by the Philippine Navy include locally-made FRP hulled boats similar to those used by the PNP Maritime Group (top), the Small Unit Riverine Craft SURC (middle), and the Special Operations Craft - Riverine SOC-R (bottom). Credits to original sources of photos.

In the end, it appears that the Philippine Navy settled with their original plan to acquire RHIBs. But it remains to be seen if the quantity was reduced from 20 units to less than that. This is because there was a request made in 2017 to reduce the quantity from 20 units to just 10 units, using the same budget.

But since RHIBs of this size does not cost more than Php12 million each, it is possible that the proposal remains at 20 units, subject to further confirmation.

Use of Diesel-Powered Motors:

Another point of interest will be the decision of the Philippine Navy to specify the use of diesel outboard engines rather than petrol powered as most boats today.

Apparently the decision of the Philippine Navy has strong ties to experience by the US Navy, which has specified the use of diesel-powered motors for boats carried by US Navy ships, instead of petrol powered motors that can produce higher power output and allow higher operating speeds.

As explained to MaxDefense by one of our contributor from the defense industry, the US Navy started implementing the use of diesel fuel for small boats after a ship accident in 1995 that caused an explosive gasoline fire. This made the US Department of Defense directive to remove all gasoline powered engines and gasoline fuel tanks about US Navy ships from 2010.

With the Philippine Navy following suit for safety reasons, it only means that the chances of these new fast boats being deployed aboard larger Philippine Navy ships like the Strategic Sealift Vessel / Landing Platform Docks, or even Offshore Patrol Vessels or other current and future surface combatants are quite high.

Not only will the boats be conforming to the directive on removing gasoline powered engines and fuel tanks aboard Philippine Navy ships, but it also allows for the ease on storing fuel since most Philippine navy ships are diesel powered and have sufficient diesel fuel stored. Fast boats using diesel fuel allows for simplicity and commonality in fuel logistics.

The use of 4 outboard motors instead of 3 as originally planned could also be due to the use of diesel motors, which have lesser power output than gasoline powered motors. 

Delivery to the Philippine Navy:

After a public bidding conducted without fanfare, the winning bidder was Solanda Enterprises - Pacficfortia Marine Technologies Joint Venture, with a bid amount of Php228,130,000.00. This is Php71,780,000.00 lower than the allocated budget. A Notice of Award (NOA) was released in favor of the winning proponent on 27 February 2018, with the Notice to Proceed (NTP) released on 01 March 2018.

Solanda Enterprises is the local distributor of Mercury marine engines, while Pacificfortia Marine Technologies carry the Treton brand of RHIBs. This means that based on their products, it can be assumed that the boats with be made by Treton and would be powered by 

Based on the contract, the products should be for delivery within 1 year, or by March 2019.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released the full amount of the contract on 08 March 2018, which enables the winning proponent to start the construction of the boats.

It appears that Solanda Enterprises - Pacificfortia Marine Technologies JV failed to deliver the boats by March 2019, as we have noted that the first batch of 6 boats were delivered only last August 2020.

The new boats are seen here being delivered to the Philippine Navy's Sangley Point Base in Cavite last August 2020. Photos exclusively shared to MaxDefense Philippines.

It still remains to be confirmed if the boats were indeed from Treton, since MaxDefense sources mentioned that the boats were probably built in South Korea.

From the photos, it shows that the boats are powered by 4 outboard motors, most likely diesel-powered Mercury motors.

The boats appear to be not yet inducted to the Philippine Navy, as training is still ongoing although it is expected to happen in the next few months. The NAVSOG SBU afterall are already training and experienced in operating these type of boats, and are familiar with the equipment installed on the boats.

NAVSOG operates several RHIBs in its fleet, although the new one appears to be larger than the one shown above. Photo taken from and credited to VJNorz's Flickr page.

It also appears that the Philippine Navy procured several new automatic grenade launchers and machine guns which would be installed on these new fast boats. We received photos confirming this, although we were asked not to post them to protect our source.

It remains to be confirmed though if these were acquired separately, although most likely they were.

It also remains to be seen on when the rest of the boats will be delivered to the Philippine Navy. So far, no new deliveries were confirmed to MaxDefense by our sources, although it is expected that more boats will arrive within the year.

Congratulations to the Philippine Navy for these new additions to the fleet!

Note: MaxDefense tried to delay the release of this blog hoping that more boats would be delivrered. But it appears we have to wait for sometime for the rest of the new boats to arrive.

Project Summary:

Fast Boats Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 23 September 2020

* End User: Philippine Navy (Naval Special Operations Group)

* Quantity: at least 10 boats (exact quantity still for confirmation)

* Modernization Phase: Second List of Horizon 1 Phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP)

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding
GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund

* SARO Release: SARO-BMB-D-18-0004636 dated 08 March 2018

* Winning Proponent: Solanda Enterprises - Pacficfortia Marine Technologies Joint Venture

* Contract Price: Php228,130,000.00

* Residual Price: Php71,870,000.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 27 July 2018 

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag:  #PNFastBoatAcquisition

* Status: Awarded to Solanda Enterprises - Pacificfortia Marine Technologies JV on February 2018, and Notice to Proceed was released on March 2018. Delivery scheduled for March 2019, delayed. First batch delivered on August 2020. More batches expected.

First edit and release: 23 September 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

1 comment:

  1. it still under the Horizon 1 RAFPMP of the AFP, I am not PRO Aquino and not also PRO Duterte but give credit to Aquino, again some dirty DDS supporters will LIKELY claimed its a DUTERTE project, DO not be BLIND and FANATIC sad to say DUTERTE is not delivering any major project under the Horizon 2, and worst of all his term will EXPIRE in the next 2 years, after his term ENDS I am damn sure DUTERTE will be under investigation for all the allegedly crimes he done....


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