ULSAN, South Korea --- Christmas Day came seven months early for the Philippine Navy as its latest ship, the missile-frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150), will be formally launched in this city on Thursday morning, marking the fulfillment of the dream of generations of seagoing officers - who have pushed and fought for the acquisition of modern combat units for the naval service. (The BRP prefix used by the Philippine Navy stands for Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas," or Ship of the Republic of the Philippines—Ed.)
Capt. Jonathan Zata, Navy spokesperson, said the entire Philippine Navy (PN) from ranking and senior officers to the most junior enlisted personnel, is happy with this milestone.
"All of us are equally thrilled that we will soon be deploying a brand-new frigate, with anti-submarine, anti-surface, anti-air, and electronic warfare capability to patrol and protect our vast territorial waters," Zata said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
He said the brand-new ship, once commissioned, will be the PN's most modern and powerful ship in service.
The PN spokesperson said the BRP Jose Rizal will play a critical role in beefing up the country's anti-submarine, anti-surface and anti-air, and electronic warfare capabilities aside from providing training to new seagoing officers.
These frigates are also expected to escort the two Tarlac-class landing dock platforms, the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602), while on missions.
The delivery of the BRP Jose Rizal is slated for 2020 while its sister-ship, the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), which itself undertook a historic keel-laying ceremony also this Thursday, is scheduled for delivery in 2021.
The Philippines and South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries signed in October 2016 a PHP16-billion contract for two missile-armed frigates, with another PHP2 billion set aside for its weapon systems and munition
Zata earlier said these vessels will help secure the country's maritime chokepoints or primary sea routes used for trade, logistics, and naval operations from surface, sub-surface, and air threats.
The steel-cutting for the BRP Jose Rizal took place on April 1, 2018 while the same ceremony for BRP Antonio Luna transpired seven months later in November.
This event officially signified the start of the actual construction of the two frigates.
Meanwhile, the keel-laying ceremony for BRP Jose Rizal took place in October 2018 as the formal recognition of the start of the ship’s construction.
"These frigates are built based on the Incheon/FFX-I/HDF-3000-type multi-purpose frigate of the Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN), which offers increased operational performance and enhanced survivability," Zata said.
These are also fully equipped with surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, torpedoes, launchers and weapon systems for four-dimensional warfare.
Each ship will be armed with an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid cannon and Aselsan SMASH 30mm remote-controlled established naval gun.
The ship measures 351 feet long and 46 feet wide and has a maximum speed of 25 knots and can travel up to 4,500 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 15 knots and can sustain operational presence for 30 days.
It is also capable of withstanding rough sea conditions up to Sea State 7, which means waves of up to six to nine meters high.
"Each frigate has a complement of more than a 100 officers and crew. It has a flight deck towards the stern with the ability to handle one maritime helicopter weighing up to 12 tons. Two rigid-hulled inflatable boats will be carried to conduct military and emergency operations at sea," Zata added.