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Philippine OPV back in service after four years following South China Sea mishap

BRP Gregorio Del Pilar. (Philippine Navy)

A Philippine Navy offshore patrol vessel (OPV) that ran aground near Half Moon Shoal in August 2018 is now back in service following a four-year rectification and modernisation period.

In response to questions from Janes , the Naval Public Affairs Office (NPAO) of the Philippine Navy confirmed on 19 September that the vessel, BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PS-15), is now en route to its designated area of operations where it will resume its duties.

“Since [its 2018 mishap], [the vessel] has undergone several repairs and upgrades to ensure the restoration of the ship's seaworthiness for maritime operations,” said the NPAO, without revealing specific details.

The vessel's propulsion system was restored in August 2022, and the ship has since undergone a series of sea trials and endurance runs “with satisfactory results”, the NPAO added. In addition, the vessel received “system upgrades” that enhance its maritime domain awareness.

Following that, the vessel underwent an operational readiness evaluation from 12 to 16 September. Upon completing the evaluation, the vessel's status was subsequently upgraded to “ready-for-sea”, the NPAO said.

Gregorio Del Pilar ran aground while it was on routine patrol operations around Half Moon Shoal in the South China Sea. All 117 of the vessel's crew members were unharmed in the incident, but both its propellers were severely damaged. It had to be towed back to Manila by two tugboats.

Half Moon Shoal is a maritime feature at the eastern edge of the disputed Spratly Islands. It lies about 100 km off the Philippine Province of Palawan and is claimed by both Beijing and Manila as part of their respective maritime territories.

Gregorio Del Pilar

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