In 2012 BRP Ramon Alcaraz and her sisters Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Andres Bonifacio were put into the payroll of the Philippine navy as an offshore patrol vessel.
The Philippines is a nation of islands, the land area of the Philippine archipelago is about 300,000 square kilometer, spread evenly to 7,107 small islands in the territory. This makes the Philippines coastline 36,289 km long, bringing this country to the 5th position in the ranking of countries with the longest coastline in the world.
With such geographical characteristics, the Philippines needs a strong enough naval force to ensure its security. In recent years, Manila has continuously promoted naval modernization with a range of new equipment. The Philippines of the present wants to follow its own direction and will not depend on America.
In 2012 BRP Ramon Alcaraz and her sisters Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Andres Bonifacio were put into the payroll of the Philippine navy as an offshore patrol vessel. Before that, from 1968 to 2012, she was known as USCGC Dallas and served the United States Coast Guard as a high endurance cutter. She was decommissioned on 30 March 2012 and acquired by the Philippines under the Excess Defense Articles and the Foreign Assistance Act.
Ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters
Ramon Alcaraz is the second of several ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters that will serve the Philippine Navy. She is named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Filipino Naval officer and World War II hero best known for receiving a Silver Star for heroism and gallantry during World War II.
She was originally designated as “PF-16” from 2012 to mid 2016 when the Philippine Navy adopted a new code designation system, re-designating her to “FF-16”. And in 2019, Philippine Navy redesignated her to PS-16 and downgraded the status of the class from frigate to patrol ship.
USCGC Dallas is a whether high endurance cutter and has specifications similar to that of BRP Gregorio del Pilar. It is largely used by the US Coast Guard for drug and migrant interdiction, law enforcement, search and rescue, living marine resources protection, and defense readiness.
The 12 Hamilton-class high-endurance cutters were inducted into the USCG between 1967 and 1972. In addition to the Philippines, the US transferred two Hamilton-class cutters to Bangladeshi Navy and another two to Nigerian Navy.
The USCGC Dallas was formally transferred to the Philippine government on 22 May 2012 during a ceremony at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Pier Papa in North Charleston, South Carolina. The ship was turned over to its Filipino crew, with Capt. Ernesto Baldovino as its first commanding officer.
After being acquired and renovated at a cost of $ 15.15 million, the ship completed its first trip in June 2013 and was put into operation in November 2013.
The modernised Ramon Alcaraz vessel incorporate new navigational and electronics systems, new armament, and anti-submarine warfare capability. Ramon Alcaraz has an overall length of 115m, a beam of 13m and a draft of 6.1m. The full load displacement is 3,250 tons.
The ship can accommodate 162 personnel, including 19 officers. At the stern, an aircraft flight deck supports an AgustaWestland AW109 Power naval helicopter. It is also provided with a hangar for aircraft storage.
The ship has two bridges located in the middle of the area, a number of antennae and radars mounted atop the bridge ensure safe operation at sea. Ramon Alcaraz can carry two high-performance Rigid-hulled inflatable boats for use when needed.
Powerplant and Performance
The BRP Ramon Alcaraz is powered by a Combined diesel or gas arrangement, 2 Fairbanks-Morse 38TD8 12-cylinder diesel engines, each producing 3,500 shark horse power, total diesel engine output 7,000 shark horse power. These diesel engines are combined with 2 Pratt & Whittney FT4A-6 gas turbines, each producing 18,000 shark horse power, total gas turbine output: 36,000 shark horse power.
This propulsion system provides a top speed of 29 knots, a range of 14,000 nautical miles and an endurance of 45 Days.
Armament & sensor
The Philippines vessel is armed with 1 Mk75 Oto Melara 76mm Compact gun in the bow is intended to offer protection against surface and air targets. After a long wait, the Philippine Navy’s BRP Ramon Alcaraz finally got 2 25mm Mk38 Mod 2 Autocannons installed. This is the Philippine Navy’s first Mk 38 Mod 2 system, and the first Hamilton-class ship to have such mount. Which are the improved version of Mk38 M242 Bushmaster guns, for protection against surface threats in both day and night conditions. The warship is also armed with 4 M2HB Browning 12.7mm Machine Guns to combat close-range air threats and light targets.
Sensors and processing systems included Kelvin Hughes MK2 X-band navigational radar and Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye 200KW S-band solid state navigation search radar. The Fire Control System is Sperry Mk 92 mod 1.
The Electronic warfare & decoys of the vessel included 2 Mk36 Super Rapid Blooming Offboard Countermeasures Chaff and Decoy Launching System. This is a short-range mortar that launches chaff or infrared decoys from naval vessels to foil anti-ship missiles.
The anti-ship missile and torpedo system is not equipped on this ship, this may be purchased from the United States in the future. The Philippine Navy plans to modernize the entire ship of the class, with an initial program to upgrade the ship’s sensors, and another program to improve its weapon systems. Future upgrades are planned to install defensive and offensive missile systems and torpedo launchers, although funding is still being secured and might only be included in the next phase of the Navy’s moderization program.
In a post on February 28, 2019, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz fetched from Parola Island in the West Philippine Sea two Filipino Fishermen who were earlier reported to have jumped from FV Thanksgiving 5 after experiencing maltreatment from the head of the crew. The Fishermen were then rescued by the Vietnam People’s Navy and later bought to Parola Island. The two are residents of Barangays Buri and Pakiwan in San Jose municipality, Occidental Mindoro.
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