Tag Archives: BRP Gregorio del Pilar

Hard luck Hamilton

The flagship of the Philippine Navy since 2011, the frigate Gregorio Del Pilar (FF15), has spent part of the past week hard aground hear Half Moon Shoal (Hasa-Hasa Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea. An embarrassing dilemma for a fleet short of vessels and trying to flex in the area to keep the much larger Chinese fleet on their toes.

Del Pilar hit aground last Wednesday night while on a routine patrol. As you can tell, the shelf comes up fast there

Gratefully, she has reportedly remained intact and has been refloated off the shoal. Her props and/or shafts are probably hamburger, though, which is bad for a 40-year-old ship with an increasingly thinning hull. She is reportedly being escorted back to Subic for inspection.

Still, its a better fate that was suffered by the minehunter USS Guardian (MCM-5), which ran aground on Tubbataha Reef in the PI in 2013.

Guardian couldn’t be saved and was instead scrapped in place.

These things happen, especially in the huge archipelago that sometimes isn’t as well-charted as the rest of the world. Heck, the Chinese themselves had a frigate The (Dongguan) run aground on the same shoal in 2012.

If Del Pilar looks familiar, she is, of course, the former US Coast Guard cutter Hamilton (WHEC-715), class leader of the “378” or “Secretary” series high endurance cutters commissioned in 1967.

Two of her sisters, USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719), and USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716), also serve in the Philippines. Perhaps they will get a fourth in coming months (Mellon and Midgett are still in operation with the USCG) and then be able to keep the old Hamilton as a spare parts/training ship if she can’t be made whole again.

Looks like the PI is keeping the Hamilton in good shape

Below is a local Philippine media production by Annalisa Burgos for YahooSG aboard the Philippine Navy’s flagship Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Gregorio del Pilar (FF15) during the conduct of Cooperation Afloat, Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2016.

As we have mentioned before, the GdP started life as the USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715) in 1967 and was decommissioned in 2011 after 44 years of very hard service to the Coast Guard and transferred to the PN in largely disarmed condition. Since then she has been busy in standoffs with the PLAN in disputed waters.

The vid shows the PN’s new Augusta 109 on her flight deck as well as some good shots of her interior spaces where all the brightwork is especially bright. Topside, there are a few good shots of her Mk 75 and Mk 38 and very little rust is showing through her dark grey scheme.


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