MANILA There is still no timeline to follow regarding the recovery of Philippine Navy (PN) flagship, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (FF-15), which ran aground off Hasa-Hasa (international name Half-Moon) Shoal, Palawan Wednesday.
This was stressed by PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad in an interview with reporters Sunday.
He added that this will be only realized once the total extent of the damage is determined when the two privately-owned tugboats, which are expected to be on the scene by Monday, have arrived and managed to tow the frigate off the shoal.
"But sa ngayon (as for now) the ship is intact, the crew are (safe) and we are on top on the situation sa pagka-retrieve sa kanya (BRP Gregorio del Pilar)," Empedrad added.
Also, the PN chief said China, South Korea, and the US - along with the country's ASEAN neighbors - have all offered help in the ongoing recovery operations but the Philippines opted to go alone with the operations as waiting for them would take time. Initial reports indicated that the grounded frigate is recoverable.
BRP Sindangan (MRRV 4407) has arrived in the area 11 a.m. Friday and will be joined by the BRP Cabra (MRRV 4409) anytime soon to render any assistance needed to pluck out the grounded BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, especially if there is a need to remove non-essential personnel to lighten the ship.
BRP Nestor Reinoso (PG-380) is also on hand to provide help.
Earlier, military public affairs chief Col. Noel Detoyato said that two tugboats have left Batangas, one Thursday and one Friday, to help in the recovery operations. The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar is one of three Hamilton-class cutters acquired by the PN from the United States Coard Guard and converted into frigates.
These ships have a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet, while its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.
These vessels have a cruising range of 14,000 miles and has a sea and loiter time of 45 days and armed with a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon, 25mm and 20mm light cannons and .50 caliber machine guns. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency