The Philippine Coast Guard’s first Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) was formally launched in OCEA shipyard in France on July 17. PCG Commandant Admiral Elson E Hermogino, with the Deputy Chief of PCG Staff for Strategic Studies and Modernization, Captain Ferdinan B Picar, PCG Spokesperson Captain Armando A Balilo, and officials from Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) attended the launching.
The OPV, which will be commissioned in the PCG service as Barko Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Gabriela Silang, is the first vessel fully designed as an offshore patrol vessel (OPV). It incorporates a characteristically modern design with a low radar cross section to minimize reflectability, and a modern hull design capable of ocean voyage and operations in rough sea conditions.
It will be utilized in patrolling the West Philippine Sea, Benham Rise, and in other anti-piracy and terrorism campaigns of the government in Southern Philippines. This 83.6-meter long vessel has a maximum speed of 20 knots, with an endurance that can take up to 22 days, and can accommodate 64 crew onboard.
This OPV is equipped with a mission management system (MMS) with a dedicated command and control center, which integrates the vessel’s sensors such as radars, automatic identification system (AIS), communications equipment, surveillance equipment, day and night vision camera, etc. The MMS utilizes advanced technologies in computer and radio techniques to signify improved operational efficiency of users providing a multi-user system that can compile and maintain a tactical Common Operation Picture, allowing even the onboard rigid inflatable boats to have access to the situation picture and to improve the control of operations. It is also capable of situation awareness, target detection, tracking and information, record and replay, information display, and exchange of information with other units
This OPV is also capable of responding to marine environmental pollution such as oil spills using its onboard containerized anti-pollution equipment. Moreover, its Hyperbaric Chamber will be useful for treating diving sickness, and its survivor room is capable of accommodating rescued persons.
In addition, the vessel has 2 onboard 9-meter Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) with a speed of 40 knots especially designed for law enforcement, to include visit and boarding of other vessels.
Its main engine is a hybrid engine of diesel-electric type, which is the first vessel under PCG to utilize diesel electric engine. Included as well in the contract is the Integrated Logistics Support, which pertains to spare parts supply and maintenance services for 5 years.
The OPV is made by the OCEA shipbuilder in France under the Philippine Ports and Philippine Coast Guard Capability Development Project with Department of Transportation as the implementing agency.
It was signed into contract last 09-September-2014 with contract cost of €97,032,507 equivalent to Php5,593,623,382. To finance the implementation of this project, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a Presidential Authority on 10-January-2017 authorizing the Department of Finance Secretary Carlos G Dominguez to enter into financing agreement with BNP Paribas (France). Included in this project are four 24-meter Fast Patrol Boats that were already completely delivered last year.
The OPV is expected to arrive in Manila on the first week of December this year after completing the provisional requirements, and the training of 18 PCG personnel as its sailing crew starting September 1 up to the last week of October.