Philippine is situated in South Asian region and has a coast line of around 36,250 kilometers. The naval wing of the country is strong and effective in defense and other peace keeping operations. Given below is a brief account of how the force came into being, how it developed over the century, its present strength and future plans.
History of Philippine Navy
The first settlers of Philippine were from the Malay region of Southeast Asia. Fishing in frail boats has been a characteristic of the first generation Filipinos. With such as long and extensive sea coast, Philippine had major sea trade activities going on from the beginning. In due course of time, however, the native people realized that the long seacoast could be a major was a major advantage and asset in progress, economics and nation building activities. However, the use of the coast line for defense was not in the scheme of plans for the Philippines.
Initially, Philippine was colonized by the Spanish. During this period, the sailors of Philippine were used by the Spanish rulers for various purposes defense and explorations. The naval force of this land was an important force in helping the Spanish retain its grounds in Philippine and in the process, they fought several wars against the Europeans. In most of the wars, the Philippine fleet emerged victorious. Shipyards were set up in Philippine when the Spanish colonizers discovered that the native people had an inherent flair for building ships owing to their history. It was during this time that feelings of sovereignty and independence developed in the Filipinos and they fought against their Spanish colonizers. As part of the freedom movement, the revolutionaries destroyed the Spanish naval fleet. It is therefore said that the history of Philippine navy is also the base and the story of the country’s raise from submission to independence and power.
An organized naval fleet of Philippine dates back its origin to 1896 when the need was recognized by those who rebelled against Spanish rule. However, when the constitution was being formed, a clause saying the land based army was to be given the first importance and another major force, the navy, would be built after the army. However, during the revolutionary period, a revolutionary navy was formed by General Emilio Aguinaldo. The main vessels in this small naval force were those which were taken from the Spanish naval force. Troops were hired and weapons and supplies were also gathered. The first war attack by the navy was on Spanish magazine and garrison.
Following this small navy’s success in attacks, the fleet was expanded by including merchant ships which could also be used for war. A major vessel acquired during this period was Compania de Filipinas, which was an 800 ton steamer. Ministry of Foreign Relations of Philippine was established on June 23, 1898 by Aguinaldo. The navy was then placed under the jurisdiction of this ministry. The navy continued attacking the Spanish forces.
Manila, which was under the control of United States, became a bone of contention between Philippine and America. During this tense period, Pascual Ledesma was appointed as the first Director of the Navy by Emilio Aguinaldo on 26 September 1898. On 21 January 1899, navy wing of the armed forced was passed into the hands of Department of War, which was renamed Department of War and Navy. However, under the new head, who tried to retrain the navy from undertaking further attacks, the naval force faced destruction and was almost completely destroyed by 1901.
From 1901 and 1941, Philippine was an American colony. A number of developments tool place in the navy during this period, some of the prominent of them being the creation of Bureau of the Coast Guard and Transportation, Bureau of Customs and Immigration, Coast and Geodetic Survey, Lighthouses and Island and Inter-Island Transportation. The major function of these bodies was for transportation of troops around the various islands, internal security issues such as smuggling and for maintaining peace and order. The other major change that the Americans brought about in Philippine navy was to make the system similar to as it was during the Spanish rule. Naval training institutes that were shut down during the revolution were reinstated. The training school was renamed Philippine Nautical School. The people of Philippine were able to joins these training centers and be part of the United States navy.
World War II took place between 1941 and 1945 and during this period, the navy of Philippine, which was now practically a part of the American navy, was dormant until the United States entered the war. The navy of United States protected Philippine coasts through its Asiatic Fleet. However, after the attack on Pearl Harbor America withdrew troops from Philippine and the country was left with no proper defense from the waters. The only naval vessels that were available were those used in offshore patrols such as Thorneycroft Coast Motor Boat and torpedo boats. Nevertheless, intelligent strategy such as guerilla hit and run missions were successful in defending the country against the Japanese.
After the World War II, Philippine was liberated from the colonial rule of the United States. Following this development and appointment of Manuel Roxas as the President of the country, an executive order no. 94 was issued according to which the significance of Offshore Patrol was elevated to the level of Air Force, Constabulary and Philippine Army. Jose Andrada was made the chief of Offshore patrol wing, which was renamed Philippine Naval Patrol.
Marine Battalion was created in 1950 by Ramon Magsaysay, the then Secretary of Defense. In 1951, the Philippine naval patrol was renamed as Philippine Navy. This formation came into being following Executive order no. 389, which was issued by President Elpidio Quirino. The newly instated Philippine navy had a number of wings for support units, shore installations, auxiliary craft, combat vessels, naval aircraft and marine forces.
The decade between 1950 and 1960 was very significant for the navy since a number of developments took place in this period. The naval strength of Philippine grew to be one of the biggest and the strongest in the Southeast Asian region. Another important thing that this era is reputed for is the independence of a number of countries in the south Asian region. Since Philippine was one of the strongest forces in the area, a number of countries like Indonesia sought the support of the naval force for development works. The navy of Philippine was very active in this period all over the region.
The progress of Philippine navy continued through the decades. The responsibility of enforcing maritime law was given to Philippine Coast Guard and was retained until the 1990s. During the 90s, the coast guard wing was transferred to Department of Transportation and Communication.
There was large scale reorganization of the naval forces and it was divided into five wings – home defense command, naval operating forces, naval shore forces, Philippine coast guard and military sealift and terminal command.
Present Philippine Navy
The Philippine navy has got a huge naval fleet that comprises of a well equipped naval air force wing as well. A large part of developmental activities in Philippine navy happened as a result of AFP Modernization Law that are formulated by the Philippine Congress in order to strengthen the defense capabilities of the country following the withdrawal of American forces from the country. Growing tensions following the Cold War and undefended water required a strengthening of the naval forces and the process was put into operation from 1995 when the modernization law was passed. Owing to the fact that the territorial waters of Philippine are extensive, the force required to guard the entire stretch needs to be massive as well. In order to provide maximum protection, the naval forces have identified certain strategic points from where maximum protection can be provided.
A large scale modernization drive is taking place in the Philippine navy. The expansion is planned at comprehensive strengthening of the navy in all aspects. There is a shortage of vessels that aid in surface combat, which is planned to be rectified. In the possession of the present Philippine navy are 8 landing ships. Among these, six have the capacity to carry 16 light armored vehicles. The other two ships can be put to use for minor preemptive landings. These vessels can be deployed for various activities relating to internal security and not on oversea battles and other activities.
Department of National Defense administers the Philippine Navy. The officer who is mainly in charge of overseeing the various operations of the Philippine navy is called Flag Officer-in-command and he is given the rank of vice admiral. He reports only to the Chief of Staff of the entire defense force.
As of now, the navy establishment consists of two wings – Philippine Marine Corps and Philippine Fleet. These two fleets are again sub divided into five naval support commands, seven naval operational commands and seven naval support units.
Present in the Philippine naval fleet are frigates of a number of varieties such as Gregorio del Pilar Class and Datu Kalantiaw Class. Corvettes of the Jacinto Class comprise of BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35), BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37) and BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36), Rizal Class houses BRP Rizal (PS-74) and BRP Quezon (PS-70) and Miguel Malvar Class consists of a number of varieties of naval vessels. Most of these vessels are ex-United States nay vessels.
Philippine patrol craft vessels consist of several varieties of vessels such as Mariano Alvarez Class, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Class and Kagitingan Class. 11 vessels of Tomas Batillo Class, 22 vessels of Jose Andrada Class and 2 vessels of the Alberto Navarette Class complete the patrol fleet in the navy. In the fleet of Amphibious Landing Ships, there are 7 vehicles of LST-1/491/542 Class, 2 vessels in Bacolod City Class and 1 Landing Craft Utility. In addition, the naval fleet of Philippine army consists of 8 types of Auxiliary ships and 6 Minor naval assets.
The air wing of Philippine Navy is well equipped with various kinds of flying crafts. The Naval Air Assets trains the naval force for air operations in times of support missions, wars and for geological surveys. The headquarters of the wing is located in Danilo Atienza Air Base in Cavite City. The air force wing of navy is plays a major role in liaison duties and search and rescue missions. There are three main squadrons in the Naval Air Force wing – Naval Air School Center NATS-50, which operates Cessna 172 and R-22, Naval Aviation Squadron MF-40 which operated B0-105C and Naval Aviation Squadron MF-30, which operated BN-2A Islander. BN-2A Islander is an aircraft of US origin and there are 8 such crafts in service in the naval air force. There are 2 MBB Bo 105 aircrafts of German origin, 2 Cessna T-41D Mescalero light aircrafts of US origin and 1 Robinson R-22 training helicopter.
Naval bases of Philippine are named on famous naval leader who have made major contributions to the development of the force in the country. The important naval bases in the country are Naval Base Heracleo Alano, Naval Base Camilo Osias and Naval Base Rafael Ramos. In addition to these, there are a number naval stations and marine bases spread all over the country. The headquarters of the present Philippine navy is at Naval Station Jose Andrada located in the City of Manila.
NSSC, which stands for Naval Sea Systems Command is a huge facility that operates and manages the military shipyards, takes up maintenance operations of Navy ships and develops advanced technologies in order to empower the navy further. Muella de Codo and Fort San Felipe in Cavite City are the two places where the major facilities of NSSC are located. The Naval Education and Training Command is located at Zambales in San Antonio.
Another important wing of Philippine navy is the Naval Reserve Command. The main functions of this wing are to train, organize and keep track of naval reservists. These reservists are recalled when the country requires services such as in times of natural disasters and internal and external disturbances. This body is based in Fort Santiago in Manila.
Seabees, formally known as the Naval Construction Brigade, this wing of the navy takes up various naval construction and engineering works. Their major job is to ensure that all naval infrastructures such as beach facilities, harbor and harbor facilities, piers and other constructions are in perfect condition. They also take up construction of roads, bridges and buildings that are required by and fall under naval jurisdiction.
NBC or Naval Base Cavite supports the naval forces and other defense units that are based in the Naval Sea System Command complex in various operations such as providing shore power connections, refueling, berthing, re-watering, ferry services and assistance for tug boats, sludge disposal and housing. There are seven naval support units – Headquarters Philippine navy and headquarters support group, Bonifacio naval hospital, Cavite naval hospital, Manila naval hospital, Naval logistics center, Philippine navy finance center and Naval intelligence and security force.
Of the two major wings of the naval force, the Fleet or Philippine naval fleet consists of four units. They are the Service force, Ready force, Assault craft force and Ready force. Two special units that are part of the Fleet are naval special warfare group and naval air group. The Fleet also consists of one support group called the Fleet Support Group. The Navy also has female crew and Marine division.
Future of Philippine Navy
Plans for expansion and empowerment of the present naval fleet of the Philippine navy are under motion. The plans fall under the Capability Upgrade Program, which is a part of the Philippine Navy Strategic Sail Plan. This plan is planned for a period up to 2020. Listed below are the major acquisitions that are planned for the future.
The main acquisitions planned are Hamilton class ocean going escort vessels, Pohang Class Corvettes, Cyclone class Control vessels, multipurpose attack crafts, patrol killer mediums, amphibious multi role transport dock, landing craft utility, offshore patrol vessels, strategic sealift vessels, anti-submarine corvettes, submarines and naval helicopters.
Of these acquisitions, one of the three Hamilton class ocean going vessels has already been received by the navy. The others are due to arrive by 2013. In addition, more of these vessels are planned in the next five years. One of them will be delivered by the United States in 2012. The multipurpose attack crafts or MPAC are expected to be delivered by the end of 2011 or in the initial months of 2012. A total of 9 units have been planned for acquisitions. The navy is very keen on the acquisition of amphibious transport multi role vessel and has made a contract for 10 billion pesos. Offshore patrol vessels, two in number are expected to arrive between 2012 and 2016.
Submarine sections form a major part of the plan. As of now, the country does not have a submarine fleet. Four anti-submarine corvettes, each of weight 2000 tons have been ordered. The first submarine is expected to arrive by 2020.
Judging by the future plans for acquisitions and the existing strength, Philippine navy can definitely manifest itself into being a major naval force in the world.