The Philippine Navy (PN) formally commissions into service and subsequently deploys to their designated areas of operations the two brand-new, Fast Attack Interdiction Crafts (FAIC), BRP Nestor Acero (PG901) and BRP Lolinato To-ong (PG902) at the Commodore Divino Pier in PN headquarters on November 28. The Executive Secretary, retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, witnessed this historic event as the Guest of Honor and Speaker. He was joined by AFP Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, Navy Chief, Rear Admiral Toribio Adaci Jr., key AFP officials, the Israeli delegation led by Ambassador Ilan Fluss and representatives of Israel Shipyards and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
The brand-new Acero-class Patrol Gunboats are the Shaldag Mark Five fast patrol crafts ordered from Israel Shipyards. They measure more than 32 meters long and have a maximum speed of above 40 knots. All platforms will be armed with one Typhoon Machine Gun System mounted with a 30-millimeter cannon and two Mini-Typhoon Machine Gun System as secondary guns, while four of the nine platforms will be fitted with the Spike Non-Line-Of-Sight Missile System. Their addition to the fleet inventory is a significant step forward in the Navy’s ongoing capability upgrade toward achieving a minimum credible defense posture and asserting greater efficiency in the execution of its mandated task, especially with their deployment to vital choke points, key sea lines of communication, and littoral areas of the country where terrorist groups and other lawless elements are operating.
The Philippine Navy Chief gave the marching order to the departing officers and crew “to always commit to what you have sworn to do – to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” BRP Nestor Acero (PG901) is under the command of Commander Harvey Lustre, while BRP Lolinato To-Ong (PG902) is skippered by Lieutenant Commander Ernan Benitez. This acquisition also represents a major leap in the Self-Reliant Defense Posture (SRDP) Program of the country as the deal involves the transfer of technology that allows the local manufacturing of three platforms at the PN shipyard in Naval Station Pascual Ledesma, Cavite City.
The Shaldag-class patrol boat (Kingfisher) is a small but fast class of patrol boats developed for the Israeli Navy and launched in 1989, it has since seen service with several other navies. The Shaldag class was conceptualized by Israel Shipyards in response to request from the Israeli Navy for a fast patrol boat to protect Israeli waters from terrorist threats. Designed for security tasks where high intercept speeds are required, such as interdiction of terrorism and illegal smuggling. Its salient features high speed in rough seas, with good seakeeping and outstanding maneuverability, exceptionally low slamming in all sea states, dry decks at all speeds and very spacious and accessible internal arrangement.