The Armed Forces of the Philippines is retrieving the Philippine Navy flagship frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar which ran aground while conducting routine patrol at the West Philippine Sea Wednesday.
Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP Public Affairs Office chief, said that all afloat vessels in the Armed Forces Western Command area have been mobilized to conduct assessment, retrieve the aground vessel, and return it to safe harbor.
The Army official said the BRP Gregorio del Pilar was grounded at Hasa-Hasa Shoal or Half-Moon Shoal about 60 nautical miles off Rizal, Palawan.
The cause of the accident has yet to be established as the retrieval of the vessel is the Army’s primary concern, according to Detoyato.
“As of now, we are concentrating on the retrieval and the morale of the troops who are on board. We will just conduct the investigation after it is retrieved,” he said in a television interview.
“According to initial verification of the troops on board, the damage is very minimal,” he noted, adding that no casualty or injury was initially reported.
The vessel – weighing 3,250 tons and has a length of 378 feet, beam of 43 feet, and draft of 15 feet – is expected to be towed within the next 24 hours if no problems are encountered.
In a separate military report, the AFP said the vessel was grounded “from bow to amidship” while the propellers were also damaged.
“An investigation is expected in such situations to find out the possible causes of the grounding and to come up with steps to ensure that similar incidents will be prevented,” Detoyato added.
BRP Gregorio del Pilar is a former US Coast Guard cutter transferred to the Navy in 2011 along with the BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Andres Bonifacio. It has since been transformed into a Navy frigate with propulsion systems consisting of two diesel and two gas turbine engines. (Martin A. Sadongdong)