The Philippine Navy’s first missile warship BRP Jose Rizal on Thursday, May 23 was launched in South Korea at a ceremony spearheaded by the top defense and military officials from both countries.
Officials of Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), who built the Navy’s semi-stealth frigate, attended the launching as well.
“This project is very close to my heart because I believe that [the] Philippines should have a strong navy as well as robust maritime industry because we are an archipelagic country. This should be the cornerstone of our territorial defense,” Undersecretary for finance and material Raymundo Elefante said on behalf of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
The acquisition of BRP Jose Rizal is a shining symbol of the Filipinos being a seafaring people, Lorenzana said, as well as boosting the country’s ability to defend its maritime domain and territorial seas.
The Jose Rizal is at par with the most modern warships across the world with its anti-air, anti-submarine and surface-to-surface weapons and surveillance capabilities. For primary weapon, it is armed with OTO Melara 76mm Super Rapid Gun; Aselan SMACH 30mm remote-controlled naval gun for secondary weapons.
The ship, with its maximum speed of 25 knots, can travel for 4,500 miles at a cruising speed of 15 knots and sustain operational presence for 30 days. Other capabilities include withstanding rough sea conditions up to 10-meter waves, firing and hitting enemy targets as far away as 250 kilometers, and firing 180 rounds a minute that can stall and hit incoming missiles with its Oto Melara primary automatic weapon.
BRP Jose Rizal is bringing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) closer to attaining a more credible defense posture, according to Top Navy officials led by Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad.
The ship is now the centerpiece of the defense department’s efforts in rebuilding the country’s territorial and external defense capabilities.
“For the first time in our nation’s history, this acquisition project gives us the chance to own our modern state-of-the-art military hardware to raise our defense capabilities and the capacity to the level required to protect our territory,” Lorenzana said.