Philippine Navy to start upgrade of its three Del Pilar-class frigates

According to information published by the Asia Pacific Defense Journal on January 22, 2021, the Philippine Navy expects to start the upgrade of its three Del Pilar-class frigates within the year in collaboration with the South Korean company Hanwha Systems.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Del Pilar-class frigate BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) of Philippine Navy. (Picture source Twitter Max Montero)

In August 2019, South Korean company Hanwha Systems and the Philippines Department of National Defense (DND) signed a contract to upgrade the Del Pilar-class Frigate. The upgrade of the ships will include Naval Shield Integrated Combat Management Systems (CMS) from Hanwha Systems, and a new hull-mounted sonar and Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system.

The Del Pilar-class frigates were previously Hamilton-class high endurance cutters of the US Coast Guard. Early in 2011, the Philippine Navy announced the acquisition of an ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton-class high-endurance cutter under the "Ocean-going Escort Vessel" project through the US Excess Defense Article program. The ship acquired was the former USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715), renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), she was commissioned by the Philippine Navy on 14 December 2011.

The second Hamilton-class cutter, the USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716), was delivered to the Philippine Navy on May 2012 and named BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16). The third cutter USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719) has been transferred to the Philippine Navy in November 2015 under the name of BRP Gregorio del Pilar and commissioned in July 2016.

The Hamilton-class is a cutter that was in service with U.S. Coast Guard and now replaced by the Legend-class cutter. The ship was designed to perform anti-submarine warfare, with the capability to find, track and destroy enemy submarines.

The Hamilton-class cutter is powered by a Combined diesel or gas (CODOG) propulsion system including two Fairbanks-Morse 38TD8-1/8-12 12-cylinder diesel engines generating 7,000 hp (5,200 kW) and two Pratt & Whittney FT4A-6 gas turbines producing 36,000 hp (27,000 kW). She can reach a top speed of 29 knots (54 km/h) with a maximum cruising range of 14,000 nautical miles (26,000 km). She has an endurance of 45 days with a crew of 167 people.

The Hamilton-class cutter is armed with one OTO Melara Mark 75 76 mm/62 caliber naval gun, two 25 mm Mk38 automatic cannons, one MK 15 Block 1 20 mm Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System), and 6 12.7mm caliber machine guns. The ship has a flight deck and a hangar to accommodate one helicopter.

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