New Navy chief Vice Adm. Jose Luis Alano vowed to retire the force’s old ships and push for the acquisition of new ones to protect the country’s waters.

In a speech after being formally installed Wednesday, Alano said the Navy’s “antiquated” ships are more burdens than assets to the force.

“We will rationalize current operational assets, review the modernization program, taking a deliberate look at the phase-in and phase-out scheme, removing the excess baggage of old and antiquated ships and equipment that continue to be heavy burdens on our logistic system,” Alano said.

Alano, who once served as chief of the Navy Fleet, said he will recommend types of equipment that will make the force “relevant” in defending the country’s territory.

“I come at an opportune time, when we are fleeting up with new capabilities like WHECs (weather high endurance cutters), frigates, naval helicopters, MPACs (multi-purpose attack crafts), AAVs (amphibious assault vehicles), as well as individual Marine and special warfare combat equipment,” he said.

Alano, who is set to retire on May 1, 2004, also vowed to continue reviewing the country’s “active archipelagic defense” strategy with an eye at achieving the Fleet’s “desired force mix.”

The Fleet’s “desired force mix” includes six frigates for anti-air warfare, 12 corvettes for anti-submarine warfare, 18 offshore patrol vessels, three submarines, three anti-mine vessels, four sealift vessels, 18 landing craft utility vessels, three logistics ships, 12 coastal interdiction patrol boats, 30 patrol gunboats, and 42 multi-purpose assault crafts that can be equipped with torpedoes and missiles, according to an article in the April edition of the Fleet’s official magazine, Phil Fleet.

The government may need to spend about P497 billion for such equipment, according to the article. (John Roson)

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