BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151) departed Naval Operating Base Subic June 8 for Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. As part of Naval Task Group 80.5, the force comprising BRP Antonio Luna, a helicopter AW -109E, and other attached personnel constitute the Philippine contribution to the exercise. Prior to departure, the vessel acquired its new home port from Naval Operating Base Subic and a complement of SSM-700K C-Star anti-ship cruise missiles.
This will be the BRP Antonio Luna’s first deployment in the RIMPAC exercise and the first time a Philippine vessel with surface-to-surface missile capability has participated in an overseas exercise. Senior Officer Commanding Vice Admiral Adeluis Bordado closed the commissioning ceremony with the recent accomplishments of the Philippine Navy and its commitment to stability, saying:
“The Philippine Navy is [now] more capable. We are also more adaptable and attuned to the changing geopolitical landscape. And more importantly, we are now looking to engage more like-minded partners to contribute to a stable and peaceful maritime space in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Philippine Navy expects BRP Antonio Luna to reach Hawaii three days prior to the start of RIMPAC. The ship must stop in Guam to fill up.
Commissioned on March 19, 2021, the BRP Antonio Luna is the second and last ship of the Jose Rizal-class frigates. It is one of the most advanced ships in the Philippine Navy. The frigates were one of the “big ticket” elements of Horizon 1 of the Revised AFP Modernization Program (RAFPMP). The vessels were ordered from South Korea in 2016, built by Hyundai Heavy Industries and delivered between 2021 and 2022.
The PN sent ships and personnel to RIMPAC 2018 and 2020, and it regularly participated in the exercises, sending ships and personnel. This year’s iteration will last from June 29 to August 4. According to a US Navy release, RIMPAC 2022 will bring together “twenty-six nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national ground forces, more than 170 aircraft and approximately 25,000 personnel”.
Since its commissioning in 2021, BRP Antonio Luna has participated in exercises with foreign partners, such as Australia, Indiaand led by the United States SEACAT 2021. Sister ship BRP Jose Rizal exercised with foreign partners, participating in RIMPAC 2020.
Alongside the Tarlac-class, the Mk 3 general-purpose assault ship, and the Pohang-class, these ships have been the face of the Philippines’ naval modernization efforts. Fleet expansion and modernization continues as final phase of RAFPMP begins in 2023 with Horizon 3. Hyundai Heavy Industries to build two corvettes and six offshore patrol boats.
Header image courtesy of the Philippine Navy