This week, the Philippines finally received the second of its Indonesia-made vessels, boosting the Manila’s limited naval capabilities and completing a deal that had rocked by a corruption scandal involving Jakarta’s shipping industry.
As I have written before, back in 2014, Indonesia’s state-owned shipbuilder, PT PAL, won a $92 million contract to deliver two Strategic Sealift Vessels (SSVs) to the Philippines, with the first one sent through last May and the second expected to be delivered this April. As I indicated at the time, the inaugural export of locally-built warships was seen as a major boost to Indonesia’s efforts to build up its domestic shipbuilding industry, which President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had made a priority (See: “Indonesia to Export First Ever Warship in Boost for Shipbuilding Industry”).
But as the ship was about to be delivered, the Indonesia-Philippines warships deal was rocked by a corruption scandal last month in another blow to the reputation of Indonesia’s shipbuilding industry, with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) detaining several PT PAL officials (See: “Corruption Scandal Rocks Indonesia-Philippines Warships Deal”). Despite that hiccup, PT PAL public relations chief Bayu Wicaksono had said that the delivery of the second SSV would still be made in mid-April because the firm was still committed to fulfilling the terms of the contract and demonstrating the good quality and competitive pricing of the Indonesian-made vessels.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
On May 8, the second SSV, christened the BRP Davao Del Sur arrived at the Manila South Harbor after a four-day long voyage from the PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia. The SSV which had a 120-strong crew and 10-man Indonesian delivery crew, was subject to standard customs, immigration, quarantine and security procedures, after which a welcome ceremony was scheduled along with commissioning rights and other introductory activities.
According to previous specifications released by PT PAL, the SSVs delivered to the Philippines measure 123 meters long with a beam of 21.8 meters and a draught of six meters. The vessels have a full load displacement of about 11,583 tons, a maximum range of 9,360 nautical miles, an endurance of 30 days and a top speed of 16 knots.
The SSVs, including the Davao Del Sur, will serve primarily as military sealift vessels that can help the Philippine military meet sea-based transport and logistics requirements. According to the Philippine Navy, the ships can carry 500 troops, two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two landing craft units, and three helicopters, and can also house and launch Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs), a truck-based mobile hospital, and various kinds of military trucks.
Philippine Navy spokesperson Captain Lued Lincuna said that it would be useful for various areas, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief where it could serve as a floating command-and-control ship. The first SSV, the BRP Tarlac, arrived in the country last year and has since taken part in several operations against militancy and piracy in the southern Philippines.