Philippines'biggest, most modern warship to be deployed

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Philippine Navy sailors on board the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF 15) throw ropes as they dock during arrival ceremonies at Manila's pier Tuesday. AP

The Philippine Navy will finally deploy its biggest and most modern ship to date, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, to the West Philippine Sea this month.

Navy spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Omar Tonsay said the Gregorio Del Pilar is scheduled to be commissioned on December 14 at the Manila South Harbor Pier 13, with President Benigno Aquino III leading the ceremony.

Tonsay said in keeping with naval tradition, they would invite Del Pilar 's descendants to the event.

Del Pilar was one of the youngest generals who fought in the Philippine Revolution against colonial Spain. He was killed in the famed Battle of Tirad Pass during the Philippine-American War at age 24.

The Gregorio Del Pilar is a weather high endurance cutter which the Philippine Navy acquired from the US Coast Guard last July. It is armed and combat-ready.

The 95 crew members of the Philippine Navy led by Captain Alberto Cruz impressed top officials of the United States Navy with how quickly they learned how to operate one of the largest ships ever built for the US Coast Guard.

The ship underwent a 33-day voyage across the Pacific Ocean traveling 7,926 nautical miles before it arrived in the country on August 17.

It underwent refurbishments and repainting from white to gray.

Commissioning the Gregorio Del Pilar will formally place it under the service of the Philippine Navy.

"This means it can now be deployed," Tonsay said.

"She is already armed so she is combat-ready," he added. With Katherine Evangelista

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