The Navy on Monday commissioned into service two LCHs it christened as BRP Ivatan and BRP Batac, which the Australian government has donated to the Philippines.
A senior Navy officer said the acquisition was part of the deal where the Philippines gets for free two LCHs but would have to pay at very minimal price for the other three vessels decommissioned by the Royal Australian Navy on Nov. 19, 2014.
Recently retired Rear Admiral Jaime Bernardino, former commander of the Philippine Fleet, confirmed that the Navy is buying three more LCHs from Australia at a token price.
Bernardino also added the Navy is waiting for the delivery of two brand-new frigates that the Philippines is acquiring from South Korea.
Currently two frigates, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz, two former US Coast Guard cutters, are patrolling the country’s maritime waters in the West Philippine Sea.
Aside from the locally made BRP Tagbanua, the Navy is still heavily dependent on ageing transport and logistics vessels in launching seaborne relief and disaster operations around the country.
These vintage navy ships are still being used to transport military equipment and personnel for forward deployment in troubled spots around the country.
These vessels are also being used for troop rotation and resupply operations in the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea.
Once acquired, the three LCHs are expected to replace some of the ageing navy logistic and landing tank ships that are expensive to maintain.
“The two LCHs that we brought home from Cairns are in top shape and fuel efficient,” said one of the Navy officers sent to Australia to accompany one of the ships to the Philippines.
The Royal Australian Navy Landing Craft Heavy, HMAS Betano (L133) recovers an Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (AUSLAV) during Minor War Vessel Fleet Concentration Period. The RAN remaining vessels were HMAS Betano (L133) , Labuan (L128) and Wewak (L130).