The Philippine Navy (PN) is interested in acquiring another decommissioned Hamilton-class cutter from the United States Coast Guard (USGC). This was disclosed by Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary for Finance, Modernization and Materiel Fernando Manalo in a text message to the Philippine News Agency.
He made the statement when queried if the Philippines is interested in acquiring the services of the USCGC Boutwell, one of the 12 Hamilton-class cutters the US Coast Guard is phasing out in favor of the heavier and more modern National Security Council cutters of which five now are in service.
“I don’t know if Boutwell is the cutter the DND is proposing to acquire. What I know is the PN is interested in acquiring (an) additional cutter,” Manalo said.
The PN presently operates two ex-Hamilton class cutters, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15 and ex-USCGC Hamilton) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16 and formerly the USCGC Dallas).
These two ships are the PN’s most up-to-date surface combatants and capable of patrolling the vast expanses of the West Philippine Sea.
Despite being armed with only a 76mm Oto Melara auto-cannon and small caliber weaponry, the Hamilton-class cutters are ideal for the PN since these are capable of sailing even in adverse weather condition and capable of housing naval helicopters aside from serving as a training platform for Filipino naval officers and crewmen expected to man the upcoming new SSVs and missile-armed frigates.
A Hamilton-class cutter has a gross tonnage of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet. Its propulsion systems consist of two diesel engines and two gas turbine engines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.
The ship has cruising range of 14,000 miles and a sea and loiter time of 45 days. It has a complement of 167 officers and men.