Strategic Sealift Vessel No. 1 taking shape

Update: SSV-1 now named “BRP Tarlac (LD-601)” and launched.

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The largest combat ship in Philippine Navy history is well on its way to completion. The still un-named Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) No.1 is reportedly due to be launched next year, and as revealed during the 80th anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, delivery is expected in March 2016. The SSV is based on the Indonesian Navy’s improved Makassar class Landing Ship Dock (LPD) shown below, and is being built by PT PAL in Indonesia from a design by Daesun Shipbuilding & Engineering of South Korea.

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 Photo of KRI Banda Aceh c/o IHS Jane’s

Based on technical specifications for the Philippine Navy version of this design have been made public (see here), this variant of the class has expanded spaces for command and control systems, which allows it to function as a flagship, and incorporates semi-stealth technology. It has a displacement of 7,3000 tons, and is 120 meters long, which is twenty-two meters longer than the previous Philippine Navy record holder: the 103-meter supply ship BRP Mactan.  The ship has maximum speed of 16 knots, with a cruising speed of 13 knots. Based on insights gleaned from its Indonesian sisterships it has a range of 10,000 miles, and can remain at sea for 30 days. It is equipped with a bow thruster for, among other things, autonomous in-port maneuverability.

This article chronicles the progress of construction. The data assembled below largely comes from open-sources and is thanks in no small part to Indonesian Timawans who monitor Indonesian news reports and share them with the Timawa community. Supplemental data was gleaned from the international press.

Event / Date photo was shared   Imagery 
January 19, 2016. After the PT PAL spillway had completely flooded, the BRP Tarlac was floated out and brought along side an adjacent pier where work continued on its internal spaces. Photograph c/o Gombaljaya on the Timawa FB extension. 5321224_20160120075447
January 18, 2016. Launching ceremony for SSV-1, now christened “BRP Tarlac (LD-601)”. Photographs c/o the Philippine Navy and ship details c/o PNA article

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 PH-Navy-2-e1453135382952-620x448  SSV
January 17, 2016. Sporting buntings for the launching ceremony
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January 16, 2016. More hull details Photo shared on Timawa FB honeypot by Alberth Minas and the main Timawa forum by Tonnyc@TMW.
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January 15, 2016. Hull number revealed: “601” Photo shared on Timawa FB honeypot by Alberth Minas 12485871_239416543056946_8133680059234221790_o
January 12, 2016. Painting in progress. Photo c/o Alberth Minas on Timawa FB honeypot. 12419005_238592803139320_1478214818312064828_o
January 6, 2016. Propellers are now being installed. Shared on Alberth Minas on the Timawa FB honeypot here. Photo clearly shows that the propeller was manufactured by MAN propeller
December 20, 2015. View of the ship in the slipway. Shared on Timawa by Pudge@timawa. The photo was originally posted on Forum Sejarah & Militer 12377637_1018160904873020_2974104353048843067_o
November 27, 2015. Mast, and bow mated with the rest of the hull. Vessel outline as an improved Makassar class is now clearly visible. Photo shared on the Timawa FB extension, originally shared on Kaskus forum Indonesia.
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November 27, 2015. View of the well deck, helideck, and entrance to the hangar. While the photograph was shared on the Timawa FB extension on the 27th, the contributor, Alberth Minas reported that the photograph had been taken two weeks prior. 12309925_217791968552737_6416106263416888472_o
November 18, 2015. Port-side hull details. Shared on the main Timawa forum here by madokafc@timawa. 11-20
November 15, 2015. Closer photo of bulbus bow, attached to the rest of the hull, in the PT PAL drydock. Shared on the main Timawa forum here by firdausj@timawa. ssv-philippines
October 25, 2015. Main mast under construction. Shared on Timawa FB extension. 12186334_206301859701748_6258125763628040194_o
October 8, 2015. The well deck where Landing Craft Utilities (LCU) and amphibious craft embark and disembark from the ship. Shared on Timawa FB extension. 8oct15
October 6, 2015. SSV-1 on slipway. Shared on Timawa FB extension. slipway
October 4, 2015. Bulbous bow attached to forward segment. Shared on Timawa FB extension. bow
September 23, 2015. Attachment point for bulbous bow assembled. Shared on Timawa FB extension. 11155151_194326247565976_5863904272102864516_o
August 24, 2015. ASF-1F block completed, being lifted in place. Shared on Timawa FB extension ASF_1F_block
August 14, 2015. Engines being installed. Photos c/o aktual.com
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July 30, 2015. Bulbous bow section completed bow
June 5, 2015. Assembly of completed keel components. Tribun news photos shared on the Timawa FB extension 11391187_120853174913284_8662390969724609522_n
May 13, 2015. Keel construction underway ssv
January 22, 2015. Steel cutting ceremony for SSV-1 held at PT PAL Indonesia 9ptmwn

The Strategic Sealift Vessel project is the Aquino administration’s implementation of two older Arroyo administration projects:

Strategic Sealift Vessel – this was reportedly crafted by the Center for Naval Leadership and Excellence (CNLE) and originally envisioned to acquire a 2nd-hand civilian Roll-On Roll-Off (RORO) vessel from Japan. Delays in the execution of the project resulted in an aborted attempt as the Japanese vendor choose to sell the prospective vessel to another buyer.

Multi-Role Vessel (MRV) – this project sought to acquire a brand-new Makassar class Landing Ship Dock directly from South Korea complete with an amphibious assault package and a sophisticated mobile hospital. The following image of a Philippine Navy poster displayed on Navy Day shows what this project sought to acquire as a single project.

mrv
 The original project that was broken up onto different components

The current administration opted to break up the MRV project into multiple components, award the contract to South Korea’s partner in Indonesia — which had the license rights to the Makasaar class LPD — and then renamed the project to the current SSV title. The latter decision initially created confusion among long-time defense enthusiasts who had been aware of both projects, but were not privy to project decisions.

Discussions about the two SSVs are available on the Timawa.net forum at the following locations:

Strategic Sealift Vessel – 1

Strategic Sealift Vessel – 2