DND chief eyes new Navy ship to guard Palawan, Sulu waters

MANILA — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Tuesday he prefers to deploy the newly-acquired BRP Conrado Yap of the Philippine Navy to guard the country’s waters off Palawan or Sulu, once it is ready.

Kung ako siguro (As for me), maybe Palawan and the Sulu seas it depends on the Navy how soon they can bring (the ship) to the south,” Lorenzana said on the sidelines of the welcoming ceremonies for corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor.

Lorenzana also lauded President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s instruction to all foreign vessels to get clearance before passing through the country’s waters.

“That is a very good development because now we have some authority to enforce our laws with (in) our territorial waters,” he said.

Duterte’s order came after the repeated passing of foreign vessels, particularly Chinese warships, through Philippine waters without notifying the government.

The Western Mindanao Command earlier reported that five Chinese naval vessels passed through Sibutu Strait in the waters of Tawi-Tawi — four were recorded in July and the last on August 4.

Meanwhile, PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad called the arrival of BRP Conrado Yap a momentous occasion for the seafaring nation of the Philippines.

“We welcome home with pride, our newest and easily the most powerful man-of-war, BRP Conrado Yap, PS-39, manned by 60 well-trained, highly capable, and extremely dedicated officers and crew,” he added.

Empedrad also thanked the South Korean government for its donation, adding that the PN will take good care of the ship, considered as its most heavily-armed unit, and hopes that it will get two more “Pohang”-class corvettes in the near future.

The BRP Conrado Yap is the former “Chungju” of the Republic of Korea Navy. Pohang-class corvettes, especially those designated as Flight II, are optimized for anti-submarine warfare missions.

The ship is armed with two 76mm Oto Melara automatic guns, two Oto Breda 40mm light cannons, depth-charge racks, and two triple torpedo tubes and surveillance systems like radar and sonar.

BRP Conrado Yap was formally turned over and commissioned to the PN last August 5 during short ceremonies at Jinhae Naval Base in Changwon City, South Korea. The corvette and her escort, the BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) departed the South Korean facility last August 12 for their voyage home which ended early morning of August 18.  Priam Nepomuceno / PNA – northboundasia.com