MANILA — As the nation celebrates the 152nd birthday of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the Katipunan and considered to be the country’s first president, it is interesting to note that the former was also the name of one of the Philippine Navy (PN)’s most powerful ships in the late 70s up to the early 90s.
This was the frigate, BRP Andres Bonifacio (PF-7), who was commissioned on July 27, 1976 and served until Sept. 30, 1993.
The former was the lead ship of the Andres Bonifacio class frigates of the PN which consists of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-8), BRP Diego Silang (PF-9) and BRP Francisco Dagohoy (PF-10).
These ships were the largest and most heavily-armed frigates of the PN during that time.
The above-mentioned vessels weighs 2,800 tons with a full war load, has a length of 311 feet, has a cruising speed of 18.2 knots and is armed with one five-inch automatic cannon.
The latter weapon is the largest weapon ever mounted in a PN ship even with the arrival of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar class frigates.
These ships were formerly used by the US Navy as Barnegat-class small seaplane tenders.
These vessels were former naval vessels of the South Vietnamese Navy.
And when the South Vietnam collapsed in 1975, these four vessels fled to Subic Bay, Philippines where they reverted to the control of their former operator, the United States, who then sold them to the PN at friendship prices.
These four ships formed the backbone of the Philippine Fleet and served loyally for 17 years until lack of spares and obsolescent prompted their decommissioning in 1993. PRIAM NEPOMUCENO/PNA