The Philippine Navy scheduled two separate gunnery exercises (GUNNEX) for ships armed with Oto Melara 76mm guns. As per Notice to Mariners (NOTAM) 072-2013, BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35) will conduct an exercise, explicitly for its main weapon, on 24 July 2013 off La Monja Island in Bataan. NOTAM 074-2013, on the other hand, announced a GUNNEX for BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) off the coast of Mariveles, Bataan on the same month.
These low-profile GUNNEXes demonstrate the progress the Philippine Navy has made thus far with this weapon system since its problematic introduction in 1997, with the acceptance of three ex-Royal Navy Peacock Class OPVs, later renamed the "Jacinto Class", into the Philippine Fleet. As related by a scathing paper written for the Joint Command & Staff College of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Navy reportedly struggled to keep the guns of the three Jacinto class ships operational. Because of inadequate preparation, the guns experienced de-rangement a year after entering service, and the navy found to its dismay that it had no personnel with the required expertise to restore the gun to operational status.
To remedy the situation, the service sought assistance from the Australian government which invited the Philippines to send personnel for training. Initially, the PN reportedly sent personnel with Gunner's mate ratings. These trainees, however, eventually found themselves out of their depth since their prior experience had been limited to World War II-era manual gun systems that lacked the sophisticated electronics of the thoroughly modern Oto Melara weapons. It wasn't until the following year, when the navy sent personnel with electronics technician ratings, that the Philippine Fleet began to build relevant maintenance experience. Given this history, the exercises listed above provide encouraging news about the Navy's efforts to improve its lot. The difficulties did not end there however, and the navy struggled with the gun type for years, during which time the OPVs were reportedly conducting patrols with their main armament in a questionable state.
That, however, was then. The GUNNEXes above show how things stand today. The following video shows the PF-16 conducting gun trials off the coast of Florida during its transit to the Philippines.
The following ships in the Philippine Fleet are currently equipped with this weapon system:
- BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35)
- BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36)
- BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37)
- BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15)
- BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16)
|Jacinto Class (Philippine Navy photo)||WHEC (Philippine Navy photo)|
The Philippine Navy drydock cycle for 2012 started on the first week of January as the service published P49M worth of bid invitations.
|Ship||Authorized Budget for Contract||Details|
|BRP Magat Salamat (PS 20)||PHP 24,500,000.00||
|BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS 37)||PHP 9,500,000.00||
|BRP Pangasinan (PS31)||PHP 15,000,000.00||
BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37) is a Jacinto class Offshore Patrol Vessel. She and her sisterships are ex-Royal Navy boats that used to be part of the British Hong Kong squadron before the colony's return to China. For discussions and photos of this ship, see here.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36), a Jacinto class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), apprehended five Chinese national for illegal fishing. The five were spotted on a speedboat 1.5 nautical miles from the coastal village of Ramos, Balabac and were captured after a chase. Five live and three dead marine turtles were found on the craft along with assorted fishing paraphernalia and butchering tools.
Naval Forces West (NAVFORWEST) commander Adm. Rostum Pena reported that the poachers were brought to Puerto Princessa, Palawan for the filing of charges.
For additional information and photos of PS-36, see the following Timawa.net discussion.
BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35), a Jacinto class OPV, will be conducting a naval gun test firing off Bataan. Details are available on the following Coast Guard Notice to Mariners (NOTAM).
The BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36) will be conducting a weapons test off the coast of Arena Island, Palawan. Details are available on the following Notice to Mariners (NOTAM)
Notice To Mariners No. 180-2011
Notice is hereby given to all mariners and other parties concerned that:
1. Reference: Philippine Navy Radio Message Cite NOCB-0911-014
2. The Philippine Navy vessel PS36 will conduct Naval Gun Test Firing on October 7, 2011 from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. at vicinity 45 Nautical Miles Southeast off Arena Island, Palawan or at the following coordinates:
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3. In this connection, all ships/watercrafts transiting the vicinity of the abovementioned areas are advised to take necessary precautionary measures.
4. The cooperation of all concerned in effecting widest dissemination of this information is requested.