The Japanese government has delivered the first of ten Japanese-built ‘Parola’ class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), the BRP Tubbataha, to the Philippines’ Coast Guard (PCG) on 18 August.
BRP Tubbataha was built by Japan’s Maritime United Corporation (JMUC) in the company’s Yokohama shipyard, and is part of a $191 million-order for ten platforms signed by the Philippines’ Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the JMUC in 2015. The completion of the order and delivery of the final vessel is scheduled for 2018.
With an overall length of 44 metres/m (144 feet/ft) and of width of 7.5m (23ft), according to specifications provided by the manufacturer, the MRRVs can accommodate a crew of 25, including five officers. Powered by two MTU 12V 4000 M93L diesel engines, the vessels have a reported standard cruising speed of 15 knots (27 kilometres-per-hour) and a range of 1500 nautical miles (2778 kilometres).
The PCG’s new vessel, along with the nine more to be delivered over the coming years, are capable of being deployed in a range of missions, ranging from rescue, environmental protection and maritime law enforcement. The ships will also serve as rapid response platforms for humanitarian relief operations, for the transport of personnel and for logistical support.
On 14 September, the Philippines’ head of state President Rodrigo Duterte approved the acquisition of two additional OPVs expected to be delivered between November 2020 and March 2021. These new ships will considerably improve the PCG’s capabilities to survey and protect the country’s maritime interests: The Philippines is locked in a maritime and territorial dispute with the People’s Republic of China in the South China Sea (SCS), and has been looking to strengthen its naval and coast guard fleets, but these are still considerably dwarfed by Beijing’s military capabilities. The PCG’s vessels will reportedly be deployed off the Philippines’ west coast, where Manila claims jurisdiction of several maritime areas under the PRC’s control such as the Scarborough Shoal and Reed Bank.