Welcome Tarlac, an instant island for the South China Sea

BRP Tarlac

The Philippines Navy’s terms her a “Strategic Sealift Vessel”

The Phillipines Navy’s newst (and actually new construction!) vessel docked at Pier 13 of the Manila South Harbor last week, BRP Tarlac (LD-601), built by PT PAL (Persero) in Indonesia. She is based on Indonesia’s Makassar-class LPDs which in turn are an offshoot of the successful South Korean-designed Tanjung Dalpele.

The new 11,500-ton vessel has a complement of 121 officers and enlisted personnel. She can carry 500 troops, two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two LCUs and three helicopters. Tarlac is slow (16 knots) but can remain at sea for a month and travel almost 10,000nm. She is one of the most powerfully armed ships in the fleet, with a 76mm OTO, twin 25mm chain guns, and numerous .50 cals.

The well dock is snug, but can fit two LCUs...

The well dock is snug, but can fit two LCUs…

brp tarlac

The Philippines is looking to get at least four of these LPDs and earlier this month took possession of the former U.S. Navy’s USNS Melville (T-AGOR-14) which is now the research vessel BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702), a first for the country.

Previous to that they have acquired three retired 50~ year old Hamilton-class Coast Guard Cutters: the Philippine Navy flagship BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15)— which started life as the USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715)BRP Ramon Alcaraz (ex-Dallas) and the as yet to be renamed ex-Boutwell.

BRP Ramon Alcaraz ( PF16 ), formerly the USCGC Dallas, from above. Note the sparse armarment

BRP Ramon Alcaraz ( PF16 ), formerly the USCGC Dallas, from above. Note the sparse armament (big up)

Two Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates of the Philippine Navy during naval exercises with the US Navy [3000 x 1970]

Two Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates of the Philippine Navy during naval exercises with the US Navy. These are the former cutters Hamilton and Dallas. They look unusual in haze gray with big PI naval ensigns, but they do seem to be holding a zig-zag well. [3000 x 1970]

The budget LPDs are part of an ambitious naval plan that includes:

6 frigates for anti-air warfare, (Perhaps these will be the Hamiltons, though they need to be up-armed if so)
12 corvettes for anti-submarine warfare,
18 offshore patrol vessels,
3 submarines,
3 anti-mine vessels,
18 LCUs,
3 logistics ships,
12 coastal interdiction patrol boats,
30 patrol gunboats,
42 multi-purpose assault craft (that can be equipped with torpedoes and missiles).
8 amphibious maritime patrol aircraft,
18 naval helicopters, (the navy recently acquired 3 AgustaWestland AW109E Powers)
8 multi-purpose helicopters

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