As part of the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the government acquired two warships for the Philippine Navy from the US Coast Guard–BRP Gregorio del Pilar and BRP Ramon Alcaraz.
During this year’s celebration of Pistay Dayat, PF15 or BRP Gregorio del Pilar docked on Lingayen Gulf with the Philippine Navy opening the ship to Pangasinenses from April 28 to May 2. Their curiosity and excitement could be felt as they waited for their turn on the motorboat that will take them to the ship’s location anchored at 3 nautical miles from the shore.
|BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF15)
And being a broadcast journalist, doing a report
on this special event required hopping into the ship and having a tour inside. My adventurous side entered the scene and I found myself feeling excited about this first time experience.
When it was our team’s turn in riding on the motorboat, the excitement grew so intense I could hardly wait to set foot on the ship, a former US Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton.
As we were approaching, the ship’s enormity greeted us. I could imagine it smiling and inviting us to enter and see its glory.
The ship is 378 feet in length and 42 feet in width measured on the widest part. The draft is 15 feet seven inches and displacement is 3,390 tons.
Our first stop was the wardroom where I interviewed the commanding officer, Commodore Joe Orbe. The wardroom serves as their meeting room for strategic planning and for other matters that need to be discussed in a closed door scenario.
Several steps from the wardroom is the commanding officer’s quarters where he rests and sometimes calls for meetings with other officers of the ship. Everything he needs is within reach. For instance, just outside his quarters is his own kitchen. His room, unfortunately, is restricted to the public, so I only had a glimpse of it from outside.
The gun deck is where the ship’s huge armaments can be found. The biggest weapon of the ship is the 76 mm Oto Melara gun that can fire up to 80 rounds of ammunition per minute.
Spending most of their time on the sea, the officers can still enjoy the comforts of home. We also went to the kitchen and the mess hall where they dine, the gym where figure-conscious men can lift weights, the clinic for emergencies and the lounge where they can stay when off duty. Here, they can watch a film or two, or read books and magazines. A library and entertainment room rolled into one.
The engine room is several levels down. But, it was also restricted to the public, so we hadn’t got the chance to take a peek inside. Located in the back portion of the ship are the helipad and the ship’s hangar. On display on this part were several types of guns.
We spent our last few minutes inside on admiring and staring around the ship, finding ourselves caught in awe. Sure, it’s not brand new, but BRP Gregorio del Pilar is something nobody will ever want to miss given the chance of a tour inside. After all, it is every Filipino’s ship.
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