July 7, 2015:
Australia is helping the Philippines build up its naval capabilities by donating two LCH handing craft. The two Balikpapan class LCH ships can land up to 180 tons of cargo directly on a beach. These ships are oceangoing, have a crew of 16 and an endurance of five days while carrying a full load and about two weeks if travelling empty. Eight of these ships were built in Australia in the early 1970s. Australia is refurbishing two of those that were retired, before turning them over to the Philippines. South Korea and Japan have also donated ships.
Since 2010 the Philippines has been trying, with some success, to upgrade and expand its navy despite having very little cash to pay for it. Thus in 2013 the Philippines announced that the second hand frigate it was receiving from the United States would have anti-submarine capabilities and a helicopter added once it arrived. The new ship was known as the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16). In 2012 the U.S. agreed to transfer two more decommissioned Coast Guard ships to the Philippines. The United States had already "sold" one of these Hamilton class Coast Guard cutters to the Philippines. The Hamiltons are 3,200 ton ocean going patrol ships. The first one delivered became the flagship of the Philippine Navy, replacing a World War II era destroyer escort.
Built in the late 1960s, the Hamiltons have been well maintained but worked hard since they entered service over four decades ago. The Hamiltons are armed with a 76mm gun, two 25mm autocannon, and two Phalanx 20mm anti-missile gun systems. The two Phalanx systems were removed and the two 25mm autocannon were replaced with newer models. The ship has a top speed of 52 kilometers an hour, endurance of 45 days, and a crew of 167. The Philippines is paying about $15 million for the ships and this will mostly cover the cost of some refurbishment and upgrades that will be done in the United States before the ships are delivered.
For most of the last decade the Philippines military has been energetically seeking hand-outs and second-hand weapons. One of the poorest nations in the region (largely because of corruption), the armed forces have not had the money to replace aging equipment. While American training efforts have improved the combat effectiveness of army units, especially special operations and infantry units, there has been much less help for the air force and navy. To help out, the U.S. has provided dozens of cheap, or free, second-hand helicopters and aircraft. The navy has received second hand patrol ships from South Korea and the United States.
Currently the Filipino navy has three frigates and 11 corvettes in service, all of them second hand when acquired and most are quite elderly. There are also 38 patrol boats. There are nine amphibious ships. In 2014 the navy announced a plan to improve readiness and maintenance of their ships and other equipment.