By Priam F. Nepomuceno
MANILA, May 21 (PNA) -- The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Monday the country's "maritime domain awareness
" will be greatly boosted with the turnover of the frigate USS Dallas (BRP Ramon Alcaraz) to the Philippine Navy this week.
To be present in the turnover ceremony at Charleston, South Carolina on May 22 (U.S. time) are AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa and Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Jose Luis Alano.
"This will provide us with more maritime assets to patrol our borders. This will allow us to go after poachers, pirates, drug smugglers and other elements who may violate our sovereignty in going about their unlawful business," AFP spokesperson Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said.
Burgos also said that a third Hamilton-class cutter is also in the works as Filipino and U.S. officials are in the midst of talks regarding the ship's possible transfer to the PN.
"The crewmen who will be manning our ship are now at the U.S. undergoing training on how to efficiently operate our newest frigate," he added.
The AFP spokesperson explained that the new ships for the PN, aircraft and helicopters for the Philippine Air Force and modern weaponry and communication equipment for the Philippine Army are part of the country's gradual shift to territorial defense.
This is in line with the AFP's efforts to build a credible defense force whose sole task is to protect the country from internal and external attack, he said.
"BRP Ramon Alcaraz" was named after after the World War II hero who commanded one of the country's three motor torpedo boats.
Incidentally, his command was named "Abra" (Q-112), a British-built naval craft measuring 55 feet long and armed with two torpedo tubes and four .50 caliber machines guns.
Together with his "Abra" crewmen, Alcaraz shot down three of the nine attacking Japanese Zero fighters in the middle of Manila Bay sometime in April of 1942.
When Corregidor fell on May 6, 1942, Alcaraz became a prisoner-of-war in Japanese-controlled camp in Malolos, Bulacan, where he gained much renown and respect for doing the best he could for his fellow captives.
Alcaraz survived Japanese captivity and resumed his career at the PN and eventually became its ranking officer, reaching the rank of commodore in 1966.
The BRP Ramon Alcaraz has a displacement of 3,250 tons, a length of 378 feet, a beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet.
Its propulsion system consists of two diesel engines and two gas turbines, giving it a top speed of 29 knots.
BRP Ramon Alcaraz has a range of 14,000 miles and capability of patrolling for 45 days.
It has a complement of 167 personnel and is armed with a 76mm Oto Melara automatic cannon and various closed-in weapon systems.