March 19, 2011:
The United States is selling a Hamilton class Coast Guard cutter to the Philippines. This 3,200 ton, ocean going patrol ship will be 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 ship has a top speed of 52 kilometers an hour, endurance of 45 days and a crew of 167. The Philippines is paying an undisclosed sum for the ship, but this will mostly cover the cost of some refurbishment and upgrades that will be done in the United States before the ship is 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.