MANILA — Unknown to many, some of the Philippine Navy (PN)'s most modern and fastest units (excluding the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) are now doing blockade and interdiction duty off the Zamboanga City coast where the military is hard at work containing Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters who earlier attacked the area without provocation.
These units are the four speedy multi-purpose assault craft (MPACs) and the BRP Mariano Alvarez (PS-38).
The PN presence off Zamboanga City is placed at 28 naval vessels and two Islander aircraft.
Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic, PN spokesperson, earlier said that the MPACs, as proven in the ongoing Zamboanga City operations, are ideal craft for coastal patrol and defense work due to high speed and maneuverability.
File photo: Three of the MPACs are sourced from Taiwan while the remaining three were ordered from Filipino shipbuilder Propmech Corporation, which is based in Subic Bay, Zambales. In photo both marines and army units alight three MPACs in Jolo, Sulu to attend the 2nd Marine Brigade's 35th Anniversary
Three of the MPACs are sourced from Taiwan while the remaining three were ordered from Filipino shipbuilder Propmech Corporation, which is based in Subic Bay, Zambales.
These ships are 16.5 meters long, 4.76 meters wide and has a draft of one meter and a top speed of 45 knots.
It is capable of carrying 16 fully-equipped troopers or two tons of cargo.
The MPAC is capable of operating in territorial waters up to "Sea State 3" (slight waves) without any system degradation.
It is armed with one .50 caliber and two 7.62mm machine guns.
While the BRP Mariano Alvarez is a Cyclone-class patrol ship acquired from the United States in January 2004.
She was the first vessel of the 10 unit Cyclone class ships which were commissioned between 1992 and 1994.
The ship was rechristened BRP General Mariano Alvarez (PS-38) on March 8, 2004, in honor of a revolutionary general in the Philippine war of independence against Spain.
Operationally, the ship is capable of accelerating from stop to 35 knots (65 kilometer per hour) in under three minutes, then move from full ahead to 15 knots (28 kilometer per hour) astern in 60 seconds.
In high-speed, hard-over turns, the vessel barely heeled as the automatic stabilizers engaged.
In PN service, the BRP Mariano Alvarez is armed with one Mark 38 Bushmaster 25 mm cannon, one Mark 96 stabilized Bushmaster 25 mm cannon with Mark19 Model3 40 mm automatic grenade launcher, four M2HG Browning 12.7 mm .50 caliber machine guns and two M-60 7.62 mm machine gun. (PNA)