The latest addition to the Philippine Navy, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, formerly a Hamilton 378-foot High Endurance Cutter (WHEC) of the United States Coast Guard, arrived at Pier 13 of Manila’s South Harbor of Manila today and was inspected by President Benigno S. Aquino III. Its voyage from the United States took three weeks from Alameda Island, San Francisco, California.
Now the Philippine Navy’s largest vessel, BRP Gregorio del Pilar was laid down 1967 as the Hamilton, first of a class of 378-foot high endurance, Secretary Class (named after former Secretaries of the U.S. Treasury) cutter. Built primarily as a patrol ship for open ocean and long range operations, for decades they were the largest cutters in USCG inventory until the Polar Class cutters were laid down.
The vessel was formally acquired by the Philippines last May 13 and is the first military acquisition of the Aquino administration through the Excess Defense Article (EDA) program of the United States. The BRP Gregorio del Pilar will be dry-docked, retrofitted, and given a fresh coat of paint showing the color gray of the Philippine Navy. The Navy expects to commission the ship after one month. Continue reading
The BRP Gregorio del Pilar is named after the youngest Filipino general during the Philippine Revolution who famously gave up his life in the Battle of Tirad Pass, protecting the retreating party of President Emilio Aguinaldo.
President Aquino’s speech at the arrival ceremony
for the Hamilton-class Cutter BRP Gregorio del Pilar, August 23, 2011
Mahigit labing-isang dekada na ang nakaraan mula nang pamunuan ng isang batang heneral ang hukbo ng animnapung kawal upang labanan ang Texas Regiment na binubuo ng mahigit limandaang Amerikano sa Pasong Tirad. Batid niyang mas malakas at mas marami ang hukbong tumutugis sa kanila, at tahas na pagpapatiwakal ang misyong ito. Subalit hanggang sa kanilang huling hininga, nanaig pa rin sa kaniya, sampu ng kaniyang hukbo, ang katapangan, kabayanihan, at katapatang loob. Nasawi man ang mga Pilipinong kawal, nagtagumpay sila sa kanilang misyon na mailayo at mapatakas si Heneral Aguinaldo. Kasamang nagbuwis ng buhay ang batang heneral, at isang tala-arawan ang natagpuan kasama ng kaniyang bangkay. Mababasa dito ang mga sumusunod na kataga: “Kung isang malaking hukbo ang lulusob sa akin at sa aking mga kawal ay mapapasuko ako; nguni’t lalong magiging kanais-nais para sa akin ang mamatay sa pagtatanggol ng aking pinaka-iirog na Inang Bayan.” Siya si Heneral Gregorio del Pilar, ang bayani ng Pasong Tirad. Continue reading