Photo Courtesy of David Cullen
Until now, the River-class ships had Royal Navy crews but were leased to the Navy for £7 million per year by their owner, BAE Systems. The £39 million up-front cost paid to purchase the ships will likely save considerable money in the long term, and ensure that the ships remain operational for many years to come. A River-class vessel displaces roughly 1,800 tons when fully loaded; missions include multipurpose patrols, fisheries and environmental protection operations, counterterrorism duties, and disaster relief. A modified River-class patrol ship, HMS Clyde , entered service in 2007. Slightly longer than the other three ships of the class, she has an aft helicopter deck, and accommodations for 11 additional personnel.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines are in the midst of an important defense buildup spearheaded by the acquisition of new warships and aircraft. In 2011 the navy commissioned two Hamilton -class cutters that had been retired from the U.S. Coast Guard. These ships have been redesignated frigates in Philippine service. The acquisition of two more Hamilton -class units is also likely, but their transfer has been delayed to fund planned upgrades for the first two frigates, now renamed the Gregorio del Pilar and the Ramon Alcaraz .
U.S. Navy Photo
The Philippines announced in October that it would be acquiring five patrol boats from France for roughly $116 million. The Philippine Coast Guard will be receiving at least some of these new vessels, which are to include one retired French 82-meter ship and four 24-meter patrol craft delivered by 2014. The Philippine Navy is also seriously considering the purchase of two Maestrale -class frigates from Italy, and in September the Congress of the Philippines approved funds to buy the vessels. About 50 new aircraft and helicopters are also slated to be purchased during the next few years.