The government has allocated PHP1 billion for the upgrading and other improvements of Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu to make it accessible to the present and future frigates that will be acquired by the Philippine Navy (PN).
In an interview Monday, PN spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata said the bidding process for the project started last week.
"Kaya naman in-undertake yang project na ‘yan, although matagal na ‘yan kung tutuusin (The project was undertaken, although it was long overdue), (it) is intended for our frigates. We're expecting our frigates to be here by 2020, para na s’yang, meron na tayong pier or wharf na madidikitan para sa bagong frigates natin (so that we will have a pier or wharf for our new frigates)," he added.
The improvements eyed for Naval Base Rafael Ramos include dredging, primary and secondary roads, drainage systems, proposed slope protections, a 152 meter by 12 meter wharf, a 105 meter by 165 meter beaching ramp, and 225 meter by 20 meter berthing area among others.
The PN is expecting the delivery of the first of 2,500 gross-ton two-missile-armed frigates from Hyundai Heavy Industries by 2020 with the second scheduled to be delivered by 2021.
These ships are expected to augment the three 3,200 gross-ton Del Pilar-class frigates (formerly the US Hamilton-class cutters) now in PN service.
Other large ships in the PN inventory are the two strategic sealift vessels, the 7,000-gross ton BRP Tarlac (LD-601) and BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602).
Zata said there is a pressing need for the PN to improve the above-mentioned naval base as its frigates and other large ships in the fleet have no home port to speak of.
At present, these large Navy ships are anchoring off Subic Bay and Pier 13, Manila South Harbor.
Once these upgrades are completed, the PN spokesperson said Naval Base Rafael Ramos will be the first-ever facility capable of handling large vessels.