The Philippine Navy is set to decommission 22 vessels in 2020, in what they say a move to save on maintenance costs and to make way for the entry of new assets in the future.
Outgoing Flag Officer in Command (FOIC) Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, who will retire on Feb. 3, said on Wednesday that the “aging” vessels are already expensive to maintain that they need to be put out of service.
During the testimonial parade hosted in honor of the retiring Navy chief at Sangley Point in Cavite, Empedrad announced that the ships due for retirement this year include: patrol ships BRP Quezon (PS-70); BRP Miguel Malvar (PS-19); BRP Magat Salamat (PS-20); BRP Pangasinan (PS-31); landing ships BRP Laguna (LS-501); BRP Benguet (LS-507); and BRP Mangyan (AC-71).
All four remaining patrol killer medium crafts and 11 patrol boats would also be out of the fleet this year, he said.
Earlier in the day, the Philippine Navy bade farewell to two long-serving vessels and one aircraft — the BRP Rizal (PS-74); BRP Nicolas Mahusay (PG-116) and Islander NV304. The two vessels were not included in the 22 ships mentioned by the Navy chief in his speech.
Empedrad was guest of honor at the decommissioning ceremony.
“Luma na kasi ito at ang bilis masira. Maraming ginagastos. It’s very expensive to maintain. Ako na siguro ang FOIC na pinaka-maraming nai-retire na barko, but I don’t care. It’s the only way to move forward. We have to retire [these] ships so we can man our new ships,” he told reporters after the event.
(They are already old and easy to break down. It’s too costly. It’s very expensive to maintain. I might be the FOIC who retired the most number of ships, but I don’t care. It’s the only way to move forward. We have to retire [these] ships so we can man our new ships.)
“It’s aging and the most important aspect of it is it doesn’t have the capability anymore…Kailangan namin ng new personnel, tanggalin sa kanila yung [We need new personnel and we have to get rid of the] old capabilities and train them for new capabilities like the frigate that we are acquiring this year,” he said.
The Navy is expecting the delivery of two brand new frigates this year built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea: BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151).
Since 2018, the Navy has retired other vintage vessels as part of its phase out plan: the BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11); BRP Salting (PG-112); BRP Sultan Kudarat (PS-22) and BRP Cebu PS-28).
There are no immediate replacements for all of the ships slated for decommissioning, but Empedrad said it would not affect the readiness of the fleet as they are expecting the two brand new missile-capable frigates this year and more assets are due for acquisition.