BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16)
BRP Ramon Alcaraz before the installation of the Mk. 38 Mod. 2 25 mm autocannons.
|Name:||BRP Ramon Alcaraz|
|Namesake:||Commodore Ramon Alcaraz (1915–2009), former Philippine Navy fleet commander and World War II hero|
|Acquired:||May 22, 2012|
|Commissioned:||November 22, 2013|
|Maiden voyage:||June 10, 2013|
|Class and type:||Gregorio del Pilar-class offshore patrol vessel|
|Displacement:||3,250 tons, probably less due to removal of several weapons & sensors system|
|Length:||378 ft (115 m)|
|Beam:||43 ft (13 m)|
|Draft:||8.75 ft (2.67 m)|
|Speed:||29 knots (54 km/h)|
|Range:||14,000 nautical miles (25,900 km)|
|Boats & landing |
|2 × RHIB|
|Sensors and |
|Electronic warfare |
|2 × Mk.36 Super Rapid Blooming Offboard Countermeasures (SRBOC) Chaff and Decoy Launching System|
|Aircraft carried:||1 × AgustaWestland AW109 Power naval helicopter|
|Aviation facilities:||retractable hangar and flight deck|
BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) is an offshore patrol vessel in the Philippine Navy and the second ship of the Gregorio del Pilar class. From 1968 to 2012, she was known as USCGC Dallas and served the United States Coast Guard as a high endurance cutter. She was decommissioned on 30 March 2012 and acquired by the Philippines under the Excess Defense Articles and the Foreign Assistance Act.
Ramon Alcaraz is the second of several ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton-class cutters that will serve the Philippine Navy. She is named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Filipino Naval officer and World War II hero best known for receiving a Silver Star for heroism and gallantry during World War II; for being one of the first officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to criticize the Marcos dictatorship; and for the concept proposal which would make him the "father" of the Philippine Marine Corps.
She was originally designated as "PF-16" from 2012 to mid-2016 when the PN adopted a new code designation system, re-designating her to "FF-16" and in 2019, PN redesignated her to PS-16 and downgraded the status of the class from frigate to patrol ship.
The ship was designed with a high level of habitability and provides fairly comfortable accommodations, including air conditioning.
Ramon Alcaraz employs the shipboard application of aircraft gas turbine jet engines with the use of controllable pitch propellers. She is equipped with two 18,000 horsepower (13,000 kW) Pratt & Whitney gas turbines and can propel the ship at speeds up to 28 knots (52 km/h). Ramon Alcaraz also has two 3,500 horsepower (2,600 kW) Fairbanks-Morse diesel engines, capable of driving the ship economically at 17 knots (31 km/h) for up to 14,400 nautical miles (26,700 km) without refueling. A retractable/rotatable bow propulsion unit provides manoeuvrability in tight situations.
Prior to turn-over to the Philippine Navy, the ship was armed with a Mk.75 Oto Melara 76 mm Compact main gun, two Mk.38 25 mm Bushmaster chain guns at midships, and a Phalanx CIWS system aft. The CIWS and chain guns were removed prior to its turn-over, with the Mk.75 gun remaining.
Ramon Alcaraz has a flight deck and hangar capable of handling helicopters.
The Philippine Navy plans to modernize the entire ship of the class, with an initial program to upgrade the ship's sensors, and another program to improve its weapon systems.
Several systems were acquired through US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF), which includes the BAE Systems Mk. 38 Mod. 2 machine gun system (already installed), the SAAB AN/SPS-77 Sea Giraffe AMB 3D air/surface search radar, and the FLIR Systems SeaFLIR 230 Electro-Optical/Infra-Red Camera.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy will launch a program to acquire, install and integrate several other sensors into the ship, as part of the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program. Among those to be acquired are new Combat Management System (CMS), Hull Mounted Sonar (HMS), and a Radar Electronic Support Measures (R-ESM).
Future upgrades are planned to install defensive and offensive missile systems and torpedo launchers, although funding is still being secured and might only be included in the next phase of the Navy's moderization program.
The ship was first launched in 1968 and served for decades as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas (WHEC-716) before being given to the Philippines.
The ship was scheduled to be transferred to the Philippines as an excess defense article through the Foreign Assistance Act via a "hot transfer" on May 2012. The Dallas was formally decommissioned on 30 March 2012, and the US Coast Guard removed the ship's guns and other equipment.
On 6 May 2012 during the 70th commemoration of the Fall of Bataan, President Benigno Aquino III announced the naming of the ex-USCGC Dallas to BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) in honor of the World War II hero and officer of the Philippine Navy. Commodore Ramon "Monching" Alcaraz commanded one of the Philippine Offshore Patrol's Q-boat Q-112 Abra during World War II which shot down 3 Japanese aircraft.
The ex-Dallas was formally transferred to the Philippine government on 22 May 2012 during a ceremony at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center Pier Papa in North Charleston, South Carolina. The ship was turned over to its Filipino crew, with Capt. Ernesto Baldovino as its first commanding officer. The ship's crew had been in the US for several weeks prior to the transfer for training aboard other Hamilton-class ships operated by the US Coast Guard. Ramon Alcaraz was scheduled to be refitted at the expense of the Philippine Navy prior to sailing to the Philippines. The ship's transfer cost was pegged at Php 450 million (around US$10 million as of 2012), while operation costs will be similar to its sister ship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar. An additional US$5 million was allocated for installation of additional equipment, different from her sister ship Gregorio del Pilar. The ship will have better fire control and weapons systems than Gregorio del Pilar.
The ship was originally expected to leave Charleston, South Carolina for the Philippines on January 2013 but it was delayed. The ship finally departed Charleston harbor at 10:00 AM on 10 June 2013. She reached the Atlantic-side entrance of the Panama Canal and crossed its entire stretch on 17 June. Ramon Alcaraz continued her journey across the Pacific Ocean and was scheduled for port visits at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, and at Guam. before reaching Manila by 3 August 2013.
On August 1, 2013, Ramon Alcaraz entered Philippine waters. Her official arrival ceremony was held Subic Bay on August 6. On November 22, 2013, she was commissioned as BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) at Pier 15 in Manila's South Harbor.
After commissioning, she sailed to Tacloban City to transport about 200 tons of relief goods, water purification systems, and navy personnel who helped with relief efforts following Typhoon Haiyan.
Around mid-2016, the Philippine Navy started calling the ship in its new code designation FF-16, together with its sister ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar which was re-designated as FF-15, and the upcoming BRP Andres Bonifacio designated as FF-17.
On March 2017, The Philippine Navy sends the Ramon Alcaraz to patrol Benham Rise after a Chinese survey ship sighted in the region days ago.
Notable operational deployments
The ship, together with its sister ship BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) participated in joint naval maneuvers as part of CARAT 2014 Philippines from June 26 to July 1, 2014. It was scheduled to conduct exercises on gunnery, combined air, surface, anti-submarine operations at sea.
In the Third week of May 2018, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz conducted joint training with HMAS Anzac (FFH 150) around the waters of Negros Island for Exercise Lumbas 2018, a joint Maritime Training Activity between the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the Philippine Navy.
In the Second week of July 2018, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz participated in the Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Sama Sama at Naval Station Ernesto Ogbinar in Pampanga with the US Navy (USN) along with the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) Landing Platform Dock. The USN sent the USNS Millinocket (T-EPF-3) Transport Ship, USNS Salvor (T-ARS 52) Salvage Ship and a P-8 Poseidon Aircraft for the exercise.
During the Third week of July 2018, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz participated in a Maritime Security Activity (MSA) with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in the waters around Palawan along with the BRP Simeon Castro (PC-374). The RAN sent the vessels HMAS Ararat and HMAS Wollongong for the activity which consists of Ship Training Activities, Maritime Patrols, Maritime Security Threat discussions, among others.
The ship, together with a naval AW109E helicopter (serial PNH-431), traveled to Northern Australia as a major participant in the KAKADU 2014 Multi-lateral Naval Exercises hosted by the Australian Defence Force from August 25 to September 12, 2014. The ship's crew also participated in boarding training with the Australian Navy before the actual sea-phase of the exercises.
From August to September 2018, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz participated again in KAKADU 2018 held in Darwin, Australia which is a biennial event and is the largest maritime exercise hosted by Australia. The 2018 version of the exercise included 3,000 personnel, 23 ships, 1 submarine and 21 aircraft from 28 nations. The Alcaraz participated in various maritime activities there including firing its Oto Melara 76 mm caliber main gun in a live fire exercise.
In February 2019, the BRP Ramon Alcaraz fetched from Parola Island in the West Philippine Sea two Filipino Fishermen who were earlier reported to have jumped from FV Thanksgiving 5 after experiencing maltreatment from the head of the crew. The Fishermen were then rescued by the Vietnam People's Navy and later bought to Parola Island. The Fishermen were able to return safely to their families in Occidental Mindoro.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16).|
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