Philippines receives first of two large coastguard vessels from Japan

Philippine PCG MRRV 9701 -- PCG
The first of two 94 metre-long Multirole Response Vessels (MRRVs).

The first of two 94 metre-long Multirole Response Vessels (MRRVs) on order for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has arrived home on 26 January.

The new vessel, with pennant number 9701, is built by Japanese shipyard Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, at the Enoura Plant of MHI’s Shimonoseki Shipyard and Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The lead MRRV is one of two large coastguard patrol vessels ordered by the Philippine Department of Transportation (DOTr) under a US$132 million contract in 2019. The second vessel is scheduled to be handed over by the shipbuilder by mid-year.

According to the DOTr, the vessels will be capable of conducting sustained maritime patrols, search and rescue, as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations in Philippine waters, including the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine Rise.

The MRRV is derived from the Japan Coast Guard’s Kunigami-class and will be the largest-ever ships to be operated by the PCG once commissioned. It has an endurance of around 4,000 nautical miles when travelling at cruising speeds, although it can reach maximum sprint speeds of over 24 knots.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding earlier said the vessel is equipped with a helideck and hangar for helicopter operations, an underwater remotely operated vehicle for subsurface search and survey, high-speed boats and other essential equipment for maritime domain awareness and law enforcement operations.

It is also fitted with a secure IP-based integrated communications and direction-finding suite called NAVICS, which is supplied by Rohde & Schwarz. The suite includes the company’s R&S Postman message handling solution with Map Track, a blue force tracking functionality. This will enable the ship’s crew to effectively exchange voice and data information with the PCG fleet, shore stations, other joint forces and governmental agencies.

Funding for the two MRRVs has been provisioned under Phase II of the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project concluded between Manila and Tokyo in October 2016. The programme is in turn funded by an official development assistance loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The PCG has also fielded 10 44-metre Parola-class MRRVs built by Japan Marine United Corporation (JMUC) Yokohama shipyard. These are also based on a Japan Coast Guard design, the Bizan-class patrol vessel.

by Jr Ng