Philippine Navy
Date Updated: Sunday August 13, 2006

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Basically, you can divide the Philippine Navy into three distinct groups – the small craft, inshore patrol craft navy, the "large" ship navy and the amphibious/logistics support ship navy. The former is relatively new, modern and efficient while the later two groups, with the exception of a few ships, are old, decrepit and in need of immediate replacement.

The core of the modern small craft navy is composed of Halter-Marine 78 foot gunboats (built in US and Philippine shipyards) as well as two classes of South Korean designed and built boats plus a smattering of local and German built units.  All are relatively modern and have proven quite useful in controlling smuggling, piracy and the rebels in the areas where they operate.  The problem is that given the size of the waters they need to patrol, there are not enough of them, nor are there enough funds to fully utilize these assets.  Furthermore, while these ships are useful in patrolling inshore and littoral waters, their small size and limited range limits their usefulness in protecting the outer fringes of the 200 mile EEZ.

The core of the large ship navy are the six former US Patrol Craft Escorts/Escort Rescue ships, two ex-US Navy Auk class former minesweepers, one ex-US Admirable class ship, one Canon class frigate, all of the same World War II vintage.  In 1997, these old ships were augmented by three Peacock class patrol ships that together form the most capable component of the fleet.  These ships are used for longer range EEZ patrols, fishery protection, showing the flag around the Spratlys, naval gunfire support and other missions requiring longer range, sea-keeping ability and staying power.  Some of the areas that the navy has to patrol have rough seas even in good weather (i.e., northern Luzon, between Taiwan and Batanes) where it is prudent not to use the smaller gunboats.

Compared to the larger combatants, the amphibious ships are no younger.  With the exception of two modern US built Logistics Support Vessels, the Navy depends on 6 LSTs built in the 1940s plus a number of smaller amphibious craft. 

While the years of underinvestment has taken its toll and various capabilities have been lost (i.e., mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare to point out the most obvious), it has managed to maintain minimum capabilities in some areas (i.e., amphibious warfare, naval gunfire support), and improve on some others (i.e.. anti-piracy, anti-smuggling). However, it’s most telling deficiency is the lack of an anti-ship missile capability.  Some foreign analysts say that as long as the Philippine Navy cannot field a minimum number of anti-ship missiles, other navies will not take it seriously.  A situation which could invite further aggression.

While the PN has not improved it’s conventional warfare capabilities much in the past year, COIN and anti-piracy/counter terrorism capabilities has increased markedly.  Not the least of which is the commissioning of one ex-USN Cyclone class Patrol Craft/Special forces transport.   There is also an added incentive to improve conventional and unconventional defenses around the western seas around the Philippines notably with the development of offshore natural gas deposits in the Malampaya area.  The PN is currently negotiating with Sweden for the delivery of four Combat Boat 90s to improve on its ability to deploy special operations forces in defense of the natural gas area.  One of the boats is to be paid for out of Navy modernization funds while the remainder are to paid for with funds provided by the Philippine Energy department. 

To make more efficient use of its limited resources, the PN is establishing Radar Observation stations at specific choke points around the country.  The stations are equipped with tower mounted Coastal Surveillance radar as well as radio and land line communications linked with PN headquarters.  Six (?) stations are currently operating with a further two currently being bid out for commissioning in the next couple of years.

Editor: You have to give the Philippine Navy credit though – with all the funding constraints, it has managed to operate and maintain it’s old hardware pretty well.

Personnel (2000 Fiscal Year): 

The Philippine Navy has:

1,888 Officers including 400 Marines
17,342 Enlisted Personnel including 7,700 Marines
1,503 Civilian Employees
20,733 TOTAL

Note:  Funding for the Marines is obtained through the Philippine Navy

Plans and Programs

Unlike the air force though, the Navy has had been success in acquiring newer equipment.  The only problem is that with so many of its main units well past block obsolescence, so many hulls are required and one for one replacements are way beyond any of its current means.  The service is therefore forced to continuously put old hulls through upgrade programs to keep them in service.  This fact is reflected in the navy’s near term programs:

Acquisition of four small, fast transports.  The plan is to acquire up to 4 Combat Boat 90s with one being funded from the Navy budget and the remainder being being funded by the Philippine Department of Energy. 
Upgrade of two PKMs
Upgrade of its three Peacocks including the acquisition of a new fire control system
Acquisition of tactical radios
Overhaul and upgrade of some of its aircraft
Overhaul and upgrade of PMC light armored assets
Establishment of Radar Observation Stations at specific choke points around the country


1 Rajah Humabon Light Frigate
3 Jacinto class corvettes
1 Cyclone Class
2 Quezon class corvettes
6 Miguel Malvar class corvettes
2 Aguinaldo class large patrol craft
3 Kagitingan class patrol craft
6 Tomas Batillo class (PKM 200) patrol craft
12 Conrado Yap class (SK) patrol craft
2 Point Class cutters
24 Jose Andrada class patrol craft
6 LSTs
2 LSVs
7 LCUs
1 Repair Ship (LST hull)
6 Armored troop carriers
6 LCM Mk8
11 LCM Mk6
2 AFDL-1 Floating Dry-docks (AFDL 40 no longer in use)

Miscellaneous craft
15 locally built speedboats (on order and delivered)
3 (?) "go-fast" boats (formerly owned by the Abu Sayaff)

Naval Air Group


Naval Operating Bases:
San Vicente, Cagayan
Ulugan, Palawan
Mactan Island, Cebu
Batu-batu, Tawi-Tawi
Sangley Point/Fort San Felipe, Cavite

Naval Stations:
Margosatubig, Zamboanga City
Gen Santos
Poro Point
Pagasa Island