The event was attended remotely via video (due to the pandemic) by Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte as guest of honor and the Philippine Navy’s flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Giovanni Carlo Bacordo.
The commissioning ceremony should have taken place on June 19, date of the birthday of the ship’s namesake Dr. Jose Rizal. However, when the ship arrived in Subic on June 15, the crew of 65 had to quarantine for two weeks after one of its crew member tested positive for COVID-19. Following the quarantine, the frigate went through the final inspection before final acceptance.
The Philippine Navy announced earlier this week that BRP Jose Rizal will be participating in this year’s RIMPAC exercise along-side the U.S. Navy and 10 other nations.
About Jose Rizal
The Jose Rizal frigate was launched on May 23, 2019 by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in Ulsan, South Korea. She started sea trial near in South Korean waters in November last year and was delivered May 18.
For the record, the contract for the construction of two light frigates was signed between the Philippines and HHI in October 2016. The contract was signed following the victory of HHI in an international tender. The contract value was determined to be 15.744571584 billion Philippine pesos (about $ 311 million). This price point is for the ship only (weapons systems not included).
According to the shipyard, the frigates for the Philippines are based on an HHI design, which is a smaller version of the Incheon frigates (FFX-I) being built for the South Korean fleet. The Philippine frigates have a standard displacement of about 2,600 tons and a length of 107 meters. The diesel main power plant under the CODAD scheme should provide a full speed of 25 knots, a cruising range of 4500 nautical miles at a speed of 15 knots.
The Philippine frigate has four anti-ship missile launchers (presumably, for South Korean SSM-700K Haeseong / C-Star by LIG Nex1), two SIMBAD-RC short range SAM system by MBDA, a 76-mm main gun, one Aselsan SMASH 30mm secondary gun, two 324-mm three-tube torpedo launchers (presumably for K745 Chung Sang Eo / Blue Shark torpedoes by LIG Nex1). They are fitted for but not with an 8x cell VLS for surface to air missiles. The ship has an helicopter deck and hangar to accommodate a Leonardo AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopter (two such helicopters have been ordered for the Navy of the Philippines). Most of the sensor and electronic suites are provided by Thales.
The order of these two frigates represented an historic breakthrough for the Philippine fleet, which was so far composed of mostly ageing and outdated escort and patrol vessels transferred (used) from the United States. As a result, the Philippine fleet is one of the oldest in the world, and it still includes former US ships built during the Second World War.