Philippine Navy

Philippine Navy
Philippine Navy
Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas
PN Seal.png
Philippine Navy Emblem
Founded 20 May 1898[1]
Country Republic of the Philippines
Branch Navy
Type Navy
Size 24,000 men
2 Frigates
11 Corvettes
128 Patrol ships
6 Landing ships
2 Auxiliary ships
Part of Department of National Defense (Philippines)
Armed Forces of the Philippines
Garrison/HQ Headquarters, Philippine Navy, Roxas Boulevard, Manila
Navy(al) Jack of the Philippine Navy. Naval Jack of the Philippines.svg
Engagements Philippine Revolution
Spanish-American War
Philippine-American War
World War II
Communist Insurgencies
Islamic Insurgencies
Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy Vice Admiral Alexander Pama

The Philippine Navy (PN) is the naval arm of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Its official name in Filipino is Hukbong Dagat ng Pilipinas, literally, "Sea Force of the Philippines".

Philippine Navy ships are prefixed "BRP" (Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas[2] or Bapor ng Republika ng Pilipinas; in English, "Ship of the Republic of the Philippines.")[3]

On January 4, 2011, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama assumed command as the new Flag Officer-in-Command (FOIC).[4][5]



The Philippine Revolution and First Philippine Republic (1896-1901)

The need of a naval force was illustrated when the Filipino revolutionaries included a provision in the Biak-na-Bato Constitution authorizing the government to license privateers to engage foreign enemy vessels.

In the English version of the same constitution, it was stipulated that after the army was organized, another such force should be created for the protection of the coasts of the Philippines and its seas, with a Secretary of the Navy being appointed to head this force.

The infant Philippine Navy was established during the Philippine Revolution, when General Emilio Aguinaldo formed the Revolutionary Navy, which then consisted of the pinnace Magdalo and several steam launches captured from the Spanish. The Navy refitted these for war and moved troops, arms, and supplies to the provinces. The Navy played a major role during the raid against the Spanish garrison and magazine on Bacoor Bay, the first amphibious assault by the Revolutionary Navy.

The fleet was later reinforced by armed merchant ships, including the Taaleño, the Balayan, the Bulusan, and the Purisima Concepcion, which were donated to the Navy. Another significant addition was the 800-ton steamer Compania de Filipinas, which belonged to the Compañia General de Tabacos de Filipinas and was seized by the Cuban Vicente Catalan, who hoisted the Filipino flag on the ship and proclaimed himself Admiral of the Filipino Navy. The Germans then objected to the flying of the Filipino flag and the French, who claimed that they owned the ship, demanded its return.

Aguinaldo continued deploying the navy to various islands of the country to engage the Spanish forces and rally the Filipinos. On June 23, 1898, Aguinaldo officially established the Ministry of Foreign Relations and placed the bureaus of diplomacy, navy, and commerce under it.

On September 26, 1898, as tensions with the United States of America grew after the fall of Manila, Aguinaldo appointed Pascual Ledesma as the first Director of the Navy. In October 1898, U.S. Navy Commodore George Dewey began seizing vessels flying the Philippine flag. On January 21, 1899, the Malolos Constitution was passed and made the President of the new First Philippine Republic the commander-in-chief of the Army and the Navy and transferred the Bureau of the Navy from the Ministry of Foreign Relations to the Department of War, which thereafter became known as the Department of War and the Navy.[6]

Dewey also began a naval blockade to prevent Aguinaldo's forces from conducting further operations, resulting in the complete destruction of the Philippine Republic's naval forces by 1901. h

American Colonial Period (1901-1941)

A U.S. Navy Vought O2U Corsair floatplane flying over the Cavite Navy Yard, circa 1930.

The American colonial government in the Philippines created the Bureau of the Coast Guard and Transportation, which aimed to maintain peace and order, transport Philippine Constabulary troops throughout the archipelago, and to guard against smuggling and piracy. The Americans employed many Filipino sailors in this bureau and in the Bureaus of Customs and Immigration, Island and Inter-Island Transportation, Coast and Geodetic Survey, and Lighthouses.

The Americans also reopened the former Spanish colonial Escuela Nautica de Manila, which was renamed the Philippine Nautical School, adopting the methods of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. The U.S. Naval Academy accepted its first Filipino midshipman in 1919, and Filipinos were able to enlist in the U.S. Navy, just as they were formerly able to do in the Spanish Navy.

World War II (1941-1945)

Sangley Point Cavite Navy Yard burning after a Japanese air attack on 10 December 1941. Small-arms shells explode (left) and a torpedo-loaded barge (center) burns.

In 1935, the Commonwealth Government passed the National Defense Act, which aimed to ensure the security of the country. This was criticized because it placed the burden of the defense of the Philippines on ground forces, which in turn, was formed from reservists. It discounted the need for a Commonwealth air force and navy, and naval protection was provided by the United States Asiatic Fleet.

When World War II began, the Philippines had no significant naval forces after the United States withdrew the Asiatic Fleet following the Attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Philippines had to rely on its Offshore Patrol, composed of high-speed Thorneycroft Coast Motor Boat (CMB) 55-foot (17 m) and 65-foot (20 m) torpedo boats, to repel Japanese attacks from the sea.

During the course of the war, surviving personnel of the Offshore Patrol conducted guerilla hit-and-run attacks against the occupying Japanese forces.

Post-World War II Era

In 1945, after the liberation of the Philippines, the Offshore Patrol was reactivated and was strengthened in 1947 after President of the Philippines Manuel Roxas issued Executive Order No. 94. This order elevated the Patrol to a major command that was equal with the Philippine Army, Constabulary, and Air Force. The Patrol was renamed the Philippine Naval Patrol, with Jose Andrada as its first commodore and chief.

Subic Bay Naval Base circa 1981. Take note BRP Tarlac (LT-500) and BRP Rizal (PS-69 old hull no.) in the background
Subic Bay Naval Base during the military presence of the United States in the Philippines.

In 1950, Secretary of Defense Ramon Magsaysay created a Marine battalion with which to carry out amphibious attacks against the Communist Hukbalahap movement. The next year, President Elpidio Quirino issued Executive Order No. 389, re-designating the Philippine Naval Patrol as the Philippine Navy. It was to be composed of all naval and Marine forces, combat vessels, auxiliary craft, naval aircraft, shore installations, and supporting units that were necessary to carry out all functions of the service.

In the succeeding decades, the Philippine Navy organized the following units (aside from the Marines):

  • Naval Shore Establishment
  • Naval Operating Forces
  • Philippine Coast Guard
  • Home Defense Command
  • Military Sealift and Terminal Command

1960s and beyond

By the 1960s, the Philippine Navy was one of the best-equipped navies in Southeast Asia. Many of the countries in the region gained independence between World War II and the 1960s, such as Indonesia, and sought assistance from the Philippine Navy in organizing their navies. In 1967, the maritime law enforcement functions of the Navy were transferred to the Philippine Coast Guard. The duties stayed with the Coast Guard when in the 1990s it became a independent service under the Department of Transportation and Communications.

After the 1960s, the government had to shift its attention towards the Communist insurgency which forced led to the strengthening of the Philippine Army and the Philippine Air Force while naval operations were confined to troop transport, naval gunfire support, and blockade.

Present situation

The 1992 withdrawal of the United States from its bases in the Philippines, such as Subic Naval Base, forced the Philippine Navy to rely on its own resources. The withdrawal is now largely seen as the inevitable and natural consequence of the end of the Cold War following the collapse of worldwide communism.[who?] It also resulted in a security vacuum in the region where tensions owing to deep-seated historic animosities and geopolitical disputes persisted. The pull-out also drew renewed attention to potential flashpoints, such as the Korean Peninsula and the Spratly Islands, that could bring nations into open conflict in the future. These developments hastened the 1995 passage of the AFP Modernization Law by the Philippine Congress whose goal is to strengthen defense capabilities.

Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49) oversee surrounding water for safety as the ship gets underway.

The need for modernization

The Philippine Navy Modernization Program (a major component of the AFP Modernization Plan) enumerates the projects and activities that the Navy will undertake to develop it into a competent armed maritime force capable of providing a credible measure of deterrence. Modernization is also expected to greatly enhance the Navy’s capacity to fulfill certain non-traditional tasks it has assumed as a result of recent international developments. This program will definitely ensure effective off shore monitoring of the country’s maritime sovereignty .

Although relatively "ill-equipped", it has been stipulated that with just a few number of comparatively modern landing ships and a small but well-disciplined Marine Corps, the Philippines would appear to be well-equipped to perform amphibious assaults if required. However, the shortage of surface combatants (currently there are only two capable ships) and limited naval aviation assets, it would limit the Navy's capacity to that of preemptive and administrative landings only, as opposed to aggressive assaults against enemy-occupied installations (as in the case of the Spratly Islands conflict).

The navy does possess eight landing ships, each carrying two LCVPs, which could be deployed in small-scale preemptive landings. Six of these ships can each carry up to sixteen (16) light armored vehicles. Therefore this amphibious force would therefore be more likely to be used in internal security operations rather than in expeditionary force projection overseas.

Based on current circumstances and future outlooks, the Philippine government is prioritizing the modernization of its armed forces. As a developing sovereign and peace loving nation, the country has the right to defend its borders and territories against foreign aggressors and bullies. With new equipment and current technologies, the Philippine navy should be able to perform its mandates.


Philippine Navy rigid hull inflatable boats perform a maritime interdiction operation exercise in Manila Bay.

The Philippine Navy is administered through the Department of National Defense (DND). Under the AFP structure, the Chief of Staff, AFP (CSAFP), a four-star general, is the most senior military officer. The senior naval officer is the Flag Officer-in-Command (FOIC), usually with a rank of vice-admiral. He or she, along with his or her Air Force and Army counterparts, is junior only to the CSAFP. The FOIC is solely responsible for the administration and operational status of the Navy.

Currently the Navy establishment is actually composed of two (2) type commands, the Philippine Fleet and Philippine Marine Corps (PMC). It is further organized into seven (7) Naval Operational Commands, five (5) Naval Support Commands, and seven (7) Naval Support Units.[7] Considering the vastness of the territorial waters that the Navy has to protect and defend, optimal deployment of naval resources is achieved through identification of suitable locations where the presence of these units are capable of delivering responsive services.

The Philippine Fleet, or simply the "Fleet", is under the direct command of the Commander Phil. Fleet while the Marine Corps is answerable to the Commandant, PMC (CPMC). However, due to the fact that the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) is a large part of the Philippine Navy, the FOIC retains much administrative control over the PMC.

Naval Operational Commands

The seven Naval Operation Commands are as follows:[7]

NAVFORWEM and NAVFOREM were formed in August 2006 when Southern Command was split to allow more effective operations against Islamist and communist rebels within the region.[8]

Naval Support Commands

The five (5) Naval Support Commands are as follows:[7]

  • Naval Sea Systems Command (NSSC)
  • Naval Education and Training Command (NETC)
  • Naval Reserve Command (NAVRESCOM)
  • Naval Construction Brigade (NCBde)
  • Naval Base Cavite

Naval Sea Systems Command

The Naval Sea Systems Command (NSSC), formerly known Naval Support Command (NASCOM), is the biggest industrial complex of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It operates the country's military shipyards, develops new technologies for the Navy, and conducts maintenance on all the Navy's ships. NSSC's principal facilities are at the offshore operating base at Muelle de Codo and at Fort San Felipe in Cavite City.[8]

Naval Education and Training Command

The Naval Education & Training Command (NETC) is the Philippine Navy's institution of learning. Its mission is to provide education and training to naval personnel so that they may be able to pursue progressive naval careers. NETC is located in Naval Station San Miguel, San Antonio, Zambales.[8][9]

Naval Reserve Command

The Naval Reserve Command (NAVRESCOM) organizes, trains, and keeps tabs on all naval reservists (which includes the Naval Reserve Corps Training Units midshipmen and midshipwomen). It is responsible for recalling reservists to meet sudden spikes in military manpower demand, as for war, rebellion or natural disaster. The NAVRESCOM is presently based at Fort Santiago, Manila. It was formerly known as the Home Defense Command.[8]

Naval Construction Brigade

The Naval Construction Brigade (NCBde), more popularly known as the "SeaBees", is tasked with naval construction and combat engineering operations. It primarily performs construction and rehabilitation of piers, harbors and beach facilities, harbor clearing and salvage works, construction of roads, bridges and other vital infrastructures.[8]

Naval Base Cavite

Naval Base Cavite (NBC) provides support services to the Philippine Navy and other AFP tenant units in the base complex, such as refueling, re-watering, shore power connections, berthing, ferry services, tugboat assistance, sludge disposal services and housing.[8]

Naval support units

A Philippine Navy SWAG climbs a caving ladder aboard the logistics support vessel during a maritime interdiction operation exercise.
A Philippine Naval SWAG participates in a battlefield exercise during a combat medic at Naval Base Cavite.

The seven (7) Naval Support Units are as follows:[7]

  • Naval Intelligence and Security Force
  • Philippine Navy Finance Center
  • Naval Logistics Center
  • Manila Naval Hospital
  • Cavite Naval Hospital
  • Bonifacio Naval Station
  • Headquarters Philippine Navy & Headquarters Support Group


The Philippine Navy has only one fleet, the Philippine Fleet. The terms "Philippine Navy" and "Philippine Fleet" are therefore interchangeable. As a type command, the Fleet has four (4) major units: the Ready Force, Service Force, Patrol Force, and Assault Craft Force; one (1) support group, the Fleet Support Group; and two (2) special units, the Naval Air Group and Naval Special Warfare Group.

Female crew

The first female officers who served as officers-in-charge of a diesel fast craft (DF-343) were 1LT's Dahlia Ong Nograles and Ester Santos Bautista WAC(PN) with twelve female crews from April 1995 to 1996. They were tagged as the First "All Female Crew" of the Philippine Navy during the leadership of then Vice Admiral Pio Carranza AFP, Flag Officer-In-Command, PN.


The Philippine Marine Corps (PMC) is organized into three (3) active-duty Marine Brigades (comprising a total of ten (10) Marine battalions); the 4th Marine Brigade (Reserve); the Combat Service and Support Brigade; the Marine Security and Escort Group; and various support and independent units.

Navy future acquisitions

The Philippine Navy, together with the entire armed forces as a whole, is embarking on a modernization and upgrade program under the Capability Upgrade Program (CUP). This is in line with the Philippine Navy Strategic Sail Plan 2020.

Philippine Navy will get a new landing craft utility ship, three multipurpose attack craft, three Jacinto-class patrol vessels with upgraded weapons system, 20 units of 2-1/2-ton truck troop carriers, 1-1/4-ton truck troop carriers and 105 units of 20-watt radio vehicles.

Hamilton Class Vessel (Ocean-going Escort Vessel)

On early 2011, the Philippine Navy announced the acquisition of an ex-US Coast Guard Hamilton Class High-endurance cutter and expected it to be ready for active deployment by the middle of the same year.[10][11] The first ship acquired was the former USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715),[12] renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar which was officially turned-over to the Philippine Navy on 13 May 2011 at Alameda Point. It has been subjected to refits and modifications while in the US mainland to replace systems removed by the USCG. The ship's arrival ceremonies was done on 23 August 2011 in Manila.[13]

On 19 October 2011, an interview with Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Pama disclosed that an inspection team lead by Rear Admiral Orwen Cortez will be heading for the United States on November 2011 to inspect another Hamilton class vessel scheduled for retirement next year, and could be delivered to the Philippine Navy by early 2012. A third Hamilton class ship is also projected to be procured by the PN by 2013,[14] as part of the Philippine-United States military cooperation.[15][16] These ships will be assigned in the West Philippine Sea to address heightened concerns in the area caused by territorial incursions by other rival claimants in the Spratly Islands.[17]

The Philippine Navy officially confirmed the Joint Visual Inspection (JVI) by its officials led by Rear Admiral Orwen Cortez of South Carolina-based Hamilton class cutter USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716) from October 31 to November 5, 2011. The ship is slated to be acquired through the US Excess Defense Articles (EDA) project via a "hot transfer" by either 1st or 2nd half of 2012.[18]

Multi-purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC)

The Philippine Navy received a first batch of three (3) Philippine-designed, Taiwanese-built[19] Multi-purpose Attack Crafts (MPAC), which is similar to the Swedish Combat Boat 90. These were presented during the 111th Navy Anniversary last May 2009.[20]

The boats are around 15 meters in length and are equipped with a water jet system. It has a maximum speed of 40 knots (74 km/h) and could reach around 300 nautical miles (560 km) while traveling on a transit speed of 30 knots (56 km/h). It is made of welded aluminum and can carry 16 fully equipped soldiers and 4 crew members or a payload of 2 tons. The ships are armed with one 50-caliber machine gun and two 7.62mm machine guns.[21]

At least 9 more units are reportedly being expected for delivery in the near future, with the bidding for the 2nd lot of 3 units already done. Expected delivery is 2nd half of 2011.[22]

Amphibious Transport Dock (Multi-role Vessel)

The Department of National Defense (DND) is reportedly rushing the acquisition of one or two multi-role vessels for the Philippine Navy through government-to-government contract at a cost of 5 to 10 billion pesos. Initially the reported source of the said ships are either South Korea or Singapore.[23] Previous statements and news reports point out that the Multi-role Vessels are comparable to Landing Platform Docks operated by foreign navies like the Singaporean Endurance Class or the Spanish Galicia Class.[24] It was confirmed later on that the ship would be from South Korea [25] and is a variant of the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) Makassar class LPD, and is packaged with four (4) units Samsung Techwin KAAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV), two (2) units Landing Craft Utility LCU-23M, four (4) units 9.8 meter Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats, one (1) unit truck-based Mobile Hospital, two (2) units Kia KM-250 2 1/2 ton troop trucks, two (2) units Kia KM-450 1 1/4 ton troop trucks, two (2) units Kia KM-450 Ambulance, two (2) units Kia Retona 1/4 ton utility vehicles, and one (1) unit forklift/cargo handling equipment.[26]

On May 2011, reports surfaced on the possible acquisition of three (3) landing platform docks from Indonesian shipbuilder PT PAL. This would be of indigenous design and will have no resemblance to the previously constructed model for the Indonesian Navy, the Makassar class, which was of South Korean origin.[27] This would represent another option as South Korea has been reportedly pushing for the sale of at least one (1) platform based on, incidentally, the Indonesian Navy Makassar class.

Landing Craft Utility (LCU)

The construction of a Landing Craft Utility (LCU) was awarded on March 2010[28] to a joint venture of local shipbuilders Philippine Iron Construction and Marine Works (PICMW) Inc. and PROPMECH Corporation. It is expected to be completed and commissioned with the Philippine Navy by last quarter of 2011 as BRP Tagbanua.[29][30]

Offshore Patrol Vessel

Media reports of the Philippine Navy's plan to purchase three (3) Offshore Patrol Vessels was made, although there were no details available regarding their specifications.[30] However, only two (2) units were listed as part of the priority items in the list for purchase between 2012 to 2016 presented by the armed forces to the House of Representatives’ committee on national defense and security last 26 January 2011.[31][32]

Strategic sealift vessel

A proposal to acquire a strategic sealift vessel, which is a converted Ro-Ro (Roll On - Roll Off) vessel from Japan was recommended by the Center of Naval Leadership & Excellence as of 2009. Purchase and technical assistance will be provided by the DBP Maritime Leasing Corporation Inc. (DMLC).[33] It is one of the priority items in the wish list for purchase between 2012 to 2016 presented by the armed forces to the House of Representatives’ committee on national defense and security last 26 January 2011.[31][32]


Reports as of May 2011 indicate that the Philippine Navy is eyeing the purchase of its first submarine not later than 2020, although no further details were provided.[34][35]

Naval Helicopters

Latest reports indicate the initial purchase of 2 units of multi-purpose shipboard helicopters to be assigned to the BRP Gregorio del Pilar and another upcoming ex-USCG cutter. [36] There were no specific models specified yet, although consideration for the ship's telescopic hangar may dictate the helicopter's size.

Ships in Service

This is a list of ships in active service with the Philippine Navy.[37]


BRP Gregorio del Pilar

Gregorio del Pilar Class (USCG Hamilton Class)

BRP Rajah Humabon

Datu Kalantiaw Class (USN Cannon Class)


Jacinto Class (RN Peacock Class)

BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37), a Jacinto class corvette

Rizal Class (USN Auk Class)

BRP Rizal and BRP Quezon

Miguel Malvar Class (USN Admirable / PCE Class)

Patrol Craft

USS Cyclone, now BRP General Mariano Alvarez

Mariano Alvarez Class (USN Cyclone Class)

Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo Class

Kagitingan Class

  • BRP Dioniso Ojeda (PG-117), a Tomas Batillo class patrol boat

Tomas Batillo Class (ROKN Chamsuri PKM Class)

  • BRP Tomas Batillo (PG-110)[39]
  • BRP Boni Serrano (PG-111)
  • BRP Bienvenido Salting (PG-112)
  • BRP Salvador Abcede (PG-114)
  • BRP Ramon Aguirre (PG-115)
  • BRP Nicolas Mahusay (PG-116)[40]
  • BRP Dionisio Ojeda (PG-117)[41]
  • BRP Emilio Liwanag (PG-118)[42][43]

Conrado Yap Class

BRP Leopoldo Regis (PG-847), a Conrado Yap class fast attack craft
  • BRP Juan Magluyan (PG 392), a Jose Andrada class patrol boat

Bacolod City Class (Modified Frank Besson Class LSV)

Large Landing Craft Utility