Philippine Navy eyes French frigates, Indian and Korean for DND frigate program

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The French frigate Prairial is seen docked in Manila’s South Harbor yesterday. EDD GUMBAN

Navy eyes French frigates

Philippines - Amid territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the government is looking at French frigates for the Philippine Navy’s use.

Naval officials were given a tour yesterday of the French Navy’s surveillance frigate Prairial – a 93.5-meter ship with both military and civilian characteristics, making it ideal for multiple purposes including disaster relief and other humanitarian missions, operations against piracy and international drug trafficking, and territorial patrol.

The Prairial is one of two French warships deployed in the Pacific – one in Tahiti and the other in New Caledonia.

Prairial Commander Frederic Daumas said at a reception on the ship last night that the frigate, with 93 crewmembers, has performed well in various weather conditions including hurricanes since being commissioned in May 1992, and would last many more years.

The Prairial is armed with 20 mm and 100 mm guns and Exocet surface-to-air missiles, and carries a transport craft, three boats and one Alouette III helicopter.

An information sheet on the frigate states: “Their main duty is to patrol overseas maritime zones over which France implements its sovereignty. In peace time, they enforce navigational police, control fishery and protect trade traffic.”

Daumas said his crew would conduct joint exercises with the Philippine Navy tomorrow in Manila Bay before the frigate leaves for Hong Kong.

The Prairial, which arrived Monday from Guam for its seventh port call in Manila, is on the fourth month of a seven-month deployment. It will also visit China, Japan and South Korea before returning to Tahiti.

Several months ago, the Philippine government considered acquiring coast guard patrol boats from France, but the plan did not push through. - philSTAR

DND admits Indian, French shipbuilders to frigate program

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Morocco Navy's Mohammed V frigate built by STX France. SeaForces.org

The Department of National Defense (DND) accepted the motions for reconsideration of two foreign shipbuilding firms that seek to join the bidding for Philippine Navy's frigate program, a Navy official said.

India state-owned Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Ltd. and STX France, SA from Europe joined the P18-billion project to boost the country's maritime forces with new warships, Navy technical working group head Commodore Roland Mercado said in a state news report on Thursday.

DND earlier excluded the firms from the program due to deficiency in documents, but were recently reconsidered by the agency's Special Bidding Awards Committee after renewing their application.

The firms now join Navantia Sepi (RTR Ventures) of Spain, and South Korean contractors STX Offshore and Shipbuilding, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. and Hyundai Heavy Industries, Inc. which have passed the first stage of the bidding process.

Mercado said the Defense officials are now conducting technical discussions with Garden Reach and STX France. The discussions will aid DND to draft final technical specifications of the required frigates, Mercado explained.

He added that the committee was also tasked to closely scrutinize the hull, power plant, communications systems and weapons systems in the frigate designs submitted.

The bidders were given five working days to present their concept. - Camille Diola philSTAR

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