Philippines to acquire French naval vessels to counter Chinese threat

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The Philippines navy has announced that it plans to purchase a 26 year old French naval vessel in an effort to increase its naval capacity, according to the Philippine coastguard. This is one of several ships that the navy and coastguard plan to purchase in light of China’s growing belligerence, but also in an effort to beef up a coastguard that is responsible for patrolling a coastline of 7,100 islands – and tackle the rampant smuggling and other customs abuses that President Aquino highlighted in his State of the Nation Address last month.

By Oliver Ellerton

The French vessel, “La Tapageuse”, is a 54.8 metre long patrol boat equipped with two cannon and two machine-guns and is expected to offer 20 years of service, at an initial cost of six million Euros. The coastguard have announced that they expect it to be in service by April 2014. This announcement came as the Philippines welcomes the arrival of the newly purchased BRP Ramon Alcaraz warship from the USA on Friday. Sailing into Philippines waters and docking in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, the warship was the second acquired from the US (after the BRP Gregorio del Pilar) and will play a role patrolling Philippine waters.

Philippine officials were quick to point out that even with this new hardware the Philippine navy was no match for the Chinese. With old technology and old ships, these vessels are intended to assist in patrolling local waters, not confront a (Chinese) navy that is estimated to me more that ten times as powerful. However in the world of realpolitik and global and regional power struggles, the signal that this sends to the Chinese is clear: the US is ready and willing to counter the growing Chinese belligerence in the South China Sea.

The US, Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations have long accused China of using its might in the region to lay claim to various islands and parcels of land – exacerbating centuries-old disputes. The US Senate recently passed Resolution No. 167 condemning the Chinese use of force in its claim to the South China sea, a move that was strongly opposed by the Chinese but applauded by the Philippines through its Ambassador to the US. The Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) have a long-held ambition to naval supremacy in the region and in a recent China Daily report, have claimed to have sailed through northern Philippine waters and accessed the Pacific, thus penetrating the ‘first island chain blockade’ established in the 1950s by the US to contain communism.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Philippines navy has announced that it plans to purchase a 26 year old French naval vessel in an effort to increase its naval capacity, according to the Philippine coastguard. This is one of several ships that the navy and coastguard plan to purchase in light of China’s growing belligerence, but also in an effort to beef up a coastguard that is responsible for patrolling a coastline of 7,100 islands – and tackle the rampant smuggling and other customs abuses that President Aquino highlighted in his State of the Nation Address last month.

By Oliver Ellerton

The French vessel, “La Tapageuse”, is a 54.8 metre long patrol boat equipped with two cannon and two machine-guns and is expected to offer 20 years of service, at an initial cost of six million Euros. The coastguard have announced that they expect it to be in service by April 2014. This announcement came as the Philippines welcomes the arrival of the newly purchased BRP Ramon Alcaraz warship from the USA on Friday. Sailing into Philippines waters and docking in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, the warship was the second acquired from the US (after the BRP Gregorio del Pilar) and will play a role patrolling Philippine waters.

Philippine officials were quick to point out that even with this new hardware the Philippine navy was no match for the Chinese. With old technology and old ships, these vessels are intended to assist in patrolling local waters, not confront a (Chinese) navy that is estimated to me more that ten times as powerful. However in the world of realpolitik and global and regional power struggles, the signal that this sends to the Chinese is clear: the US is ready and willing to counter the growing Chinese belligerence in the South China Sea.

The US, Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations have long accused China of using its might in the region to lay claim to various islands and parcels of land – exacerbating centuries-old disputes. The US Senate recently passed Resolution No. 167 condemning the Chinese use of force in its claim to the South China sea, a move that was strongly opposed by the Chinese but applauded by the Philippines through its Ambassador to the US. The Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) have a long-held ambition to naval supremacy in the region and in a recent China Daily report, have claimed to have sailed through northern Philippine waters and accessed the Pacific, thus penetrating the ‘first island chain blockade’ established in the 1950s by the US to contain communism.

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