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The Pohang-class Corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39)

The Philippine Navy is set to have another vessel from South Korea which does not pertain to the new builds that were categorized as the Jose Rizal-class Frigates. This article pertains to a vessel, once in service with the Republic of Korea Navy, gets its way to the Navy inventory which in itself is a plus to the capabilities that this service branch needs to keep up to its operations.

This was formerly known as the ROKS Chungju (PCC-762).
Obtained from the Inquirer.net page.
The BRP Conrado Yap as provided in multiple media outlets is considered the recent addition that the Philippine undertakes on its desire to modernize its fleet further as part of the organization's Sail Plan initiative where other projects include the Jose Rizal-class Frigates and perhaps the on-going plans on submarine procurement wherein the latest preferred supplier may come from the country of France in Europe.

Apparently, it is considered the most capable ship that the Philippine Navy obtains as of the current date wherein it obtains the military weaponry that other vessels including the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels do not obtain. Hence, its current designation as a key Philippine Navy flagship isn't that surprising at all given its weapons-packed firepower that defines its capability.

Still, then, one may be said that it is still a far cry to the necessary requirements that the Philippine Navy needs on a fleet but nevertheless, obtaining them may serve as a plus now that the service branch is at a phase of having several of its World War 2 vessels putting into decommissioning, effectively having these ships out of service.

Apparently, its arriving ceremony was just commenced recently, August 20, 2019, where guests such as the Defense Secretary Mr. Delfin Lorenzana attended the event in the Port of Manila. For everyone's knowledge, the ship was named after the late Army Capt. Conrado Yap who died for defending the country's belief on freedom and democracy during the Korean War which spared the peninsula from being engulfed entirely by Communism led by then-leader Kim Il Sung.

Since this is considered the most capable ship as of the current date, it is worth to discuss regarding its previous designation within the South Korean Navy, its capabilities, the history of its development, and the plans that both the Philippine Navy and the South Korean government have in connection to the Pohang-class Corvettes obtained.

Before the transfer to the Philippine Navy, BRP Conrado Yap
was once called as the ROKS Chungju (PCC-762).
Obtained thru
Wikimedia Commons.
Before it entered service within the Philippine Navy as the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39), it was once served most of its serviceable life within the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) as the Republic of Korea Ship (ROKS) Chungju (PCC-762). 

Along with the ships of its class, the ship serves as a mainstay platform for the South Korean Navy to patrol the seas especially the country facing another confrontation against its Northern Neighbor given that the Korean War is still being played up to the present day, only that both sides have agreed on what is seen is the longest ceasefire to date.

ROKS Chungju is a Flight III Pohang-class Corvette which is a later version of the vessel as opposed to the Flight II versions of the ship that includes the previously-considered ROKS Mokpo (PCC-759) which will discuss along with this writeup. The Pohang-class Flight III setup comes with the following ships:
Click the image to enlarge.
References: [1],[2],[3]
As we can see, the other nations that possess the other Flight III Pohang-class Corvettes are the countries Vietnam and Egypt. The former obtains the ROKS Gimcheon (PCC-761) now known as the HQ-18 Corvette and ROKS Yeosu (PCC-765) now known as the HQ-20 Corvette while the latter has the ROKS Jinju (PCC-763) now known as the ENS Shabab Misr.

There are still more Pohang-class Corvettes that are up for grabs wherein they are still in service within the South Korean Navy and replacements are to come along the way so as for the Koreans to replace the Pohangs altogether. In fact, it comes to the interest that the South Korean Government is willing to donate two more Pohang-class Corvettes to the Philippines, as such an idea is interesting in itself given that it follows the Navy's Rule of Three.

See more: Maintenance Concept with the rule of thirds, How Ideal is a 4th Hamilton Cutter in the Philippine Navy? - Pitz Defense Analysis (March 19, 2017)

The ROKS Chungju PCC-762 served well throughout its 29 years in service within the South Korean Navy until its retirement from service in 2016. It was not until three years later that the ship finds its new life with another Naval Force, with another set of the crew from a different nationality in another nation just across the Asia-Pacific region.

So, it is worth to see that obtaining it up provides a boost for the Philippine Navy's capabilities that it needs currently wherein the ship will augment the existing ones that the fleet obtains in patrolling the country's longest coastline and the territorial waters that surround the nation's archipelagic setup especially now that Chinese warships are now intruding within the waters outside their so-called nine-dash line claim.


It will be a bit difficult to discuss regarding the ship's reputation as a most capable one within the Philippine Navy without taking consideration the weapons fit installed onboard the ship itself that makes it considered as such, not to mention the idea that obtaining them is more than what other ships obtains currently, including other main combat vessels available in the inventory such as the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels and Jacinto-class Patrol Corvettes.

76mm Oto Melara Main Primary Gun (2 units)
The main gun that key Philippine Navy ships utilized.
Obtained via Wikimedia Commons.
The BRP Conrado Yap, even way back to its ROKS Chungju days obtains a weapons fit of two 76mm Oto Melara Main Primary Gun both to its bow and stern portions of the ship, facing both forward and backward portions of the vessel respectively which goes reminiscent of the old gunship days with larger guns.

Obtaining such many main guns in an individual ship is something that the Navy obtains recently which goes differently from other vessels especially both the Del Pilar-class OPVs and Jacinto-class Patrol Corvettes also obtains such type of 76mm Oto Melara Guns, although it is limited to the bow portion of the ship which goes to the norm of fitting main guns on the current date. Take note also that the Jose Rizal-class Frigates will also obtain an advanced version of such a gun where the two aforementioned units in the Philippine Navy are also limited to the ones situated in the bow. By retaining it, the ship may obtain additional firepower in terms of obtaining such guns which is ideal for providing support upon the necessity of such a feature.

However, there is the possibility to have the stern 76mm gun to be dismantled to provide future space for the ship to fit with other weapons given also that there is only one main gun ideally fitted onboard the ship. Hence, such a possibility may mean having that the stern gun may go utilized as a training platform which is not that surprising given that the key Philippine Navy combat ships obtain such a gun for operations. Obtaining such a training platform may help personnel to acquire skills that are needed once getting onboard an active naval vessel. 

40mm OtoBreda Twin Gun (2 units)
The BRP Conrado Yap obtains two of such double-barrel Secondary Guns.
Obtained via Wikimedia Commons.
Aside from two 76mm Oto Melara Main Primary guns, the BRP Conrado Yap also obtains two 40mm OtoBreda twin Cannons which is considered by its manufacturer as a Close-In Weapons System or CIWS.

Its barrel consists of two Bofors 40mm/L70 gun which the Philippine Navy actually obtains in its inventory through an earlier version of it which is the Bofors 40mm/L60 gun that is currently fitted onboard most of the fleet's World War 2-era vessels like the Malvar-class and Rizal-class Offshore Patrol Vessels as well as to the older Landing Ship Tank platforms that the fleet currently obtains. So, it will not be much of a headache in terms of its usage except that the earlier L60 gun operates on a 40x311mmR ammunition carrier while the L70 operates on its own 40x364mmR ammunition carrier which didn't go accordingly in terms of compatibility. Not to mention also that the Bofors gun onboard an OtoBreda 40mm gun is operated differently than the usual 40mm guns that the Navy obtains which these guns come with other components that comes with the DARDO weapons systems package. 

Speaking of DARDO CIWS, the BRP Conrado Yap lacks the essential components such as the Selex (Leonardo) RTN-10X or Selenia (Leonardo) SPG-74 fire control radars and the RTN-20X fire control system that will provide a more effective use for the two OtoBreda twin Cannons fitted onboard. By such, these secondary guns may serve as its own platform in the same manner as the way it utilized when it was with the South Korean Navy unless there are proposals to upgrade it to a dedicated CIWS platform that can intercept incoming aerial threats that poses danger to the ship and its crew.

Mark 32 Triple Torpedo Tubes (2 units)
Manila - The NSSC Command Group headed by RADM ROMMEL JASON L GALANG AFP together with the team of Hull, Machinery, and Electrical (HME) and Weapons, Communications and Electronics (WCE) inspected the newly-acquired PN ship, BRP CONRADO YAP (PS39) earlier August 23.
Courtesy of Naval Sea Systems Command, Philippine Navy.
One of the significant weapons that definitely made the BRP Conrado Yap the most capable ship within the Philippine Navy as of the current date is its two Mark 32 Triple Torpedo Tubes which signifies one thing: The antisubmarine capabilities onboard an active Philippine Navy in a form of torpedo-carrying and firing it on targets is once again on the line.

See more: Knowing the South Korean K-745 Blue Shark Torpedoes in the Philippine Navy - PDA

With no surprise, the chances that it will be armed with K-745 Blue Shark Torpedoes is likely wherein the same type of underwater munitions is also about to find its way onboard the Jose Rizal-class Frigates. Speaking of Jose Rizal-class Frigates and its antisubmarine technology onboard the ships, naming the BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), it is seen to be a nice idea for the Philippine Navy for making the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) as an effective training platform for the personnel who is soon to be assigned to the newer ships being built in South Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries given that aside from it is originated from the same nation the Jose Rizal-class Frigates being built, the chances of having a similar form of torpedoes (out of smoothening logistics chain up) will be likely to be utilized where there is the sense of familiarization on the skills that will be acquired along the process of training about antisubmarine warfare. That in which will help naval personnel familiarize and will eventually apply it in upon the delivery of the new frigates which there will be less of a hassle on operating the torpedo subcomponent, making it more efficient to the fleet's end.

So, it is a welcoming thing for the Philippine Navy as well as the Department of National Defense to obtain such a warship with dedicated torpedo tube platforms onboard, something which will help improve the fleet's capability in terms of eliminating targets like the ones that can be found underwater. Such torpedo armaments, however, will not be possible without the sensors which will detect it.

Signaal (Now Thales) PHS-32 Hull Mounted Sonar
This is how a Signaal PHS-32 Hull-Mounted Sonar looks like.
Image Source.
While the Mark 32 triple torpedo tubes serve as an arm of the BRP Conrado Yap that deals a striking blow against its intended target, the PHS-32 hull-mounted sonar meanwhile serves as its ears that scan underwater for threats like lurking submarines that is threatening to the country's national security especially on its geographic setup composing of an island group surrounded by water.

The PHS-32 hull-mounted sonar design fitted onboard is as old as the ships themselves, where it was primarily produced through the 1980s although it is being upgraded with its service life enhanced ever since. Here are some details about the hull-mounted sonar's performance:

Own doppler correction:       on all 60 beams
Target doppler speed measurement:       —40 to +40 kt
Notch filter:       0-15 kt adjustable
Number of range scales:       5
Range accuracy:       ±0.5 to 2 o of full-scale range
Range gate length:       1/6 of the range scale
Bearing accuracy:       1deg RMS
Vertical beam width:       12°120° with computer coordination of beam-width and transmitting pulse for rough weather conditions
Autotrack capability:       4 targets simultaneously

Time/bearing history (listen):       20 minutes

Like the Mark-32 triple torpedo tubes, obtaining a hull-mounted sonar onboard the BRP Conrado Yap may help provide the Navy as part of the training for naval personnel especially for the upgrades that the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels will be undertaken as well as on anticipating the delivery of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates which will obtain its own fitted hull-mounted sonar. 

Signaal (Now Thales) WM 28 Fire Control System
This is the Signaal WM 28 Fire Control System. We can see it as a
large white ball fitted on the Pohang-class Corvettes' mast.
Image Source.
The fire control system serves as a guiding sensor for a naval component onboard the BRP Conrado Yap such as the two 76mm Oto Melara Main Primary Gun to function accordingly with the assurance of effective accuracy in aiming against a surface target.

The WM 28 Fire Control System closely resembles the US-made Mark 92 Fire Control System which is itself derived from an earlier version of a Signaal (Now Thales) made Fire Control which is the WM 25 Fire Control System. Apparently, it is the Mark 92 Fire Control System that is fitted on all the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels currently in service with the Philippine Navy given that such weapons fit was provided way back to its previous service within the United States Coast Guard where such a system, like in the BRP Conrado Yap also provides a guiding sensor for the ex-cutters' 76 mm Oto Melara Main Primary Cannon that it obtains. With the experience made from the Del Pilar-class vessels utilizing the Mark 92 Fire Control System, it will not be much of a worry upon the utilization of the WM 28 Fire Control System, only with minor adjustments to be provided between the differences of both variants.

So, being a usual thing among all of the Pohang-class Corvettes, having the BRP Conrado Yap obtained will help the Philippine Navy more if two more Pohang-class Corvettes will be considered upon which will comply to the rules of three that are being practiced within the organization. 

Before the ROKS Chungju was considered, there was this ship.
This is called the ROKS Mokpo (PCC-759), a Flight II Pohang-class
In connection to the inclusion of the BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) into the Philippine Navy as part of the South Korean donation, it is also nice to discuss the developments that have come to the transfer of what was once called the ROKS Chungju where there is another ship that was considered at one point.

Entering the picture is the older ROKS Mokpo (PCC-759) which belongs to the earlier Flight II portion of the Pohang-class Corvette composition within the Republic of the Korean Navy. Such a flight development fits between the Flight I of Corvettes known as the Donghae-class Corvettes (which in itself is the earlier version of the Pohang-class Corvette while sharing the similar design on the ships' hull) and the Flight III which introduces a lot of improvements from the previous one and also the Flight where the current BRP Conrado Yap belonged to.

At one point, the Philippine Navy considered this ship for acquisition that there is even an Invitation to Bid dated back 2016 that is related to its maintenance and spare parts hulk.
Click this image for clearer information.
At that time that such a piece of information was posted on a government procurement website like PhilGEPS, it then came to mind that the ROKS Mokpo may be seen as the probable naval asset provided by the South Korean Government for the Philippine Navy to have. As it turns out, this will not be the one that the Philippines is looking after.

On the post made by our fellow defense page on their article posted here, it has been assessed that the ROKS Mokpo was in poor condition and refurbishing it may be costly enough for the Philippine Navy to handle it for it to be functional and seaworthy. Not to mention that the Flight II variants of the Pohang which this ship belongs to are not the antisubmarine variant that the Navy looks for. So to no surprise, this offer was rejected down.

Apparently, to the making of this deal, the development for seeking a Pohang-class Corvette was started way back in 2011 only to be formalized in 2014 and eventually its product delivered five years later in 2019.


The Philippine Navy is now getting itself more improved as more and more naval assets come in that goes in line to its desired Sail Plan initiative that aims to have a credible naval force that operates within the national jurisdiction where it safeguards the protection of the country's national interest at sea.

With the entry of BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) to the fleet, the Navy is now getting its antisubmarine capabilities regained even further where it may serve as a training platform that is in itself an essential step for the fleet to have its personnel hone the skills.

Such skills are needed before an intended assignment into one of a future Philippine Navy ship such as a Jose Rizal-class Frigate or even on two additional Pohang-class Corvette as planned with similar facilities employed with the BRP Conrado Yap and eventually the future Corvette Acquisition Project that may obtain the same DNA as the Jose Rizal-class Frigates. 

Not to mention in this manner is the potential upgrades that the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels may have now that it is about to have one through Hanwha System where its Combat Management System, Hull-Mounted Sonar and Radio Electronic Support Measure as well as integrating existing subsystems onboard those ships. 

All with these things aim to have an effective antisubmarine force where it provides that capability to deter any potential submarine attack that may cripple the overall security of the country as well as its national interest with its geographic setup being an influencing factor.

Given these new developments, one may go ascertain that the Philippine Navy is growing its capabilities more along with the other military branches within the Armed Forces of the Philippines where all of these service branches share together the primary aim of having a minimum credible defense posture that the country needs in protecting its citizenry and national interest.

At the end of the day, the BRP Conrado Yap serves as another major step for the Philippine Navy to have where there will be more ships entering its fleet that provides similar or additional capabilities than what this ship, once named the ROKS Chungju having currently wherein like any other acquisition in the fleet, the ship will embody the crew that serves with it and the service branch they represent which they are keen on protecting the country's waters with more hulls to join up the fray and cope up to the instilled duties and responsibilities as the primary defenders of this beloved nation. 

The Philippine Navy Fleet's 76mm Oto Melara Main Primary Guns

In the early days of World War 2-era vessels, the Philippine Navy's ships rely on manual guns to provide firepower that is needed in conducting its operations in which the naval personnel onboard man it up is a usual thing in that old time. At the current pace of modern technology being introduced in both military and civilian areas, it will be nice to discuss this very important main gun that the primary combatants of the Philippine Navy obtained currently.

The 76mm Oto Melara Main Gun onboard the BRP Ramon Alcaraz
(PS-16) in action.
Image Source.
There have been discussions regarding individual military assets such as for the Combat Utility Helicopter Projects, Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels, and even the Army's M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers.

Speaking of the Philippine Navy, the discussion matter primarily focuses on capital ships which aside from the mentioned Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessel also includes the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Docks, the recently-arrived BRP Conrado Yap which is a Pohang-class Corvette, and the Jose Rizal-class Frigates which are considered the most capable warship that is about to enter Philippine Navy service. 

However, there are few discussions made on familiar subsystems that are in itself fundamental to the fleet's overall firepower capability which is usual to the Philippine Navy's primary combat ships. One of which deals on the topic that will be tackling today wherein it focuses on the primary combat ships' primary gun which in itself is similar across the western-oriented navies such as those within the Philippine Navy. Such a weapons system that is commonplace though provides a significant indicator of how this service branch handles its logistics chain along with the sharing of technical expertise in between the personnel who are assigned on board the ships that obtain such a primary gun.

It goes so much that an idea for a GUNNEX was raised on a Philippine Defense Forum webpage wherein being an archipelagic nation that still relies too much on guns (until the entry of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates which introduces real anti-ship missile capabilities), the Navy fleet will showcase its guns as part of a commemorative event that took place on the Second World War which in itself was also fought with guns.

Hence, for the knowledge of everyone, having such a main gun like the 76mm Oto Melara Gun provides a primer on the Philippine Navy's capability of handling mid-sophisticated weaponry which in itself is a departure from the primarily-manual-based guns that is fitted on most of the fleets' Second World War-era vessels. Operating and maintaining it has come a long way for such a capability to be perfected.

The Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels. The first Philippine Navy ship
that incorporates the 76mm Oto Melara Gun which is considered
sophisticated within the fleet on its time.
Image obtained through Wikimedia Commons.
Way back 1997, the once-British Overseas Territory of Hong Kong was returned back to the helm of the People's Republic of China as part of the deal which involves the expiration of the 99-year lease forged a century ago where the British gain it as part of its gains after the First Opium War with Imperialist China at that time.

Along with that comes the disbandment of the British Royal Navy's Hong Kong squadron which they were selling three Peacock-class Patrol Vessels that the Philippine Navy eventually obtains on a friendship price. Such vessels are now known within the fleet as the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels (see image above).

The rest of the details are provided in this Joint Staff Command College Paper which was published almost two decades ago, in 2001. The details were provided as follows:

Although the Philippine Navy initiated the deal, it was not included in the PN Operating Program and Budget. Hence, its British crew haphazardly conducted the necessary training of both PN officers and enlisted men assigned to man the three ships. These three former British ships became the most modern ships in the Philippine Fleet although they are relatively obsolete compared to the standards of the most modern navies around the world.

The ships are not yet equipped with the missile system and an airborne CIC that would extend the effective ranges of its sensors and weapons beyond the horizon. Its main armament is 76-millimeter Oto-Melara gun equipped with a fire-control radar and an auto-reloading system. One man stationed at the console of the fire control radar is enough to operate and control the gun. All he had to do is just lock the fire-control radar on the target and push the button to fire the gun; then the gun will always point to the target wherever it goes even if the ship is rolling or pitching due to big waves.

Unlike a similar armament aboard a World War II vintage ship, guns are manually loaded with ammunition then manually point, train, and fire the gun to the target by a seven-man gun crew. The Oto Melara gun could fire about 30 times (or more) faster than a manually loaded gun depending on the speed and teamwork of the gun crew. The real advantage here is the speed and accuracy of the Oto-Melara guns.

When one of the Oto-Melara guns encountered derangement one year after its acquisition, not a single person in the Philippine Navy knows how to put the gun back into operating condition. The Philippine Navy requested Australia to train PN personnel in conducting (a) repair on such types of guns.

When Australia acceded, the PN sent personnel with a rating of gunner’s mate to undergo the training. However, these gunner’s mates were sent back to the Philippines because they don’t know anything about electronics on which Oto Melara guns operate. So, the PN sent another batch of personnel with a rating of electronic technicians instead. The training lasted for two years then that will be the only time that the guns have (sic) been repaired.

Due to this incident, the PN was awakened and made aware [regarding] the state of readiness of our personnel towards modernization. The problem was only about the repair of a gun commonly used around the world yet, it gave an enormous headache to the PN. How much more if the problem was about (the) missile system and electronic countermeasure equipment?

Sad to say for the fleet, the issue persists by the dawn of the 21st Century where there are still struggles on the operations and maintenance made onboard the Jacinto-class PVs up to the purchase of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) almost two decades after the JCPVs were commissioned to service. It was then until the delivery of BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) as demonstrated in this video here and a GUNNEX exercise between the BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35) and BRP Gregorio Del Pilar in Bataan that the importance and capability of the Oto Melara were showcased.

Hence, it is good to understand regarding the usefulness of the Oto Melara 76mm guns where it serves as a primary weapon currently by most combatant warships of the Philippine Navy. To discuss this further, let us tackle the development and other details about the gun, its manufacturer, its specifications, and the ships within the Navy that utilize it.

Dimensions of the 76mm/62 Gun developed by Oto Melara.
Image Courtesy.
As provided by several sources, the first production for the Compact Version of the 76mm/62 Oto Melara Guns started in 1963 which is still utilized up to the present day. The advanced version meanwhile, which is the faster-firing Super Rapid Gun was first produced in 1988, more than two decades later.

In the United States Navy and Coast Guard, its designation is more known as the Mark 75 - 76mm/62 Caliber Main Gun. The Oto Melara guns fitted in key US-made ships such as the Oliver Hazard Perry-class Frigates and the Hamilton-class High Endurance Cutters were produced by BAE Systems and General Electric Co with the design under license from Oto Melara itself. 

Such a composition provides Coast Guard ships such as the Hamilton-class WHECs to be modernized more under SLEP or Shelf Life Extension Program which benefits future owners such as the Philippine Navy eventually on considering such a ship that will form the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels. 

Other than the ones provided in the United States, the Compact version of the Oto Melara Main Gun is currently in use by various navies and coast guards, spanning at around 50 nations while the Super Rapid gun is about to introduce itself in several countries like the Philippines in the form of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates.

To the knowledge of everyone, here are some descriptive details regarding the 76mm/62 Oto Melara - both Compact and Super Rapid versions (source):

Technical data:
Caliber: 3 inches / 76,2 mm
Barrel length: 186 inches / 4,72 meters (= 62 caliber)
Weight: 7900kg, empty (Super Rapid)
Shell: 76 x 900 mm / 12,34 kilograms
Elevation: - 15° to + 85°
Traverse: 360°
Rate of fire: Compact: 85 rpm / Super Rapid: selectable from single shot up to 120 rpm
Muzzle Velocity: 925 m/s (1100 m/s - DART)
Magazine: Compact: 80 rounds / SR: 85 rounds

16 kilometers with standard ammunition
20 km with extended range ammunition
up to 40 km with VULCANO ammunition

- Compact
- Super Rapid
- Stealth casing
- DAVIDE/STRALES radiofrequency guidance system for DART guided ammunition

- HE (high explosive) - 6,296kg / Range 16km / effective range 8km (4km vs. air targets at elev. 85°)
- MOM (multi-role OTO munition)
- PFF (pre-formed fragmentation) - anti-missile ammunition
- SAPOM (semi-armored piercing OTO munition) - 6,35kg / Range 16km
- SAPOMER (semi-armored piercing OTO munition, extended range) - Range 20km
- DART (driven ammunition reduced time of flight) - sub-calibre guided ammunition against multiple targets
               (missiles and maneuvering targets at sea) 4,2kg in barrel / 3,5kg in flight / 660mm lenght / effective range >8km

- VULCANO (76mm unguided and guided extended range ammunition) - under development

With the details provided, the future is even brighter for Leonardo (who now produces the Oto Melara Guns) and for the end-users of such a military weapon wherein developments are in place to improve the performance of the warships. Things such as the rate of fire are something that will be delivered by the newer Super Rapid gun which will help improve the overall firepower that will pack by a warship equipped by this gun under a shorter amount of time as compared to its older compact variants.

While such firepower is something that the 76mm/62 Oto Melara Guns provides that eliminates the threat posing against the warship, it will not be possible without the Fire Control System that will help improve its accuracy and effectiveness of each gunfire provided against the enemy.

The BRP Jose Rizal is fitted with an advanced version of the
76mm Oto Melara which is the Super Rapid Gun. Add to that,
the SELEX EX NA-25X Fire Control Radar serves as the
sensors of the main gun.
Image pulled from Imgur.
Several Philippine Navy ships, especially the recently-purchased ones, obtain a 76mm/62 Oto Melara Gun on its bow or two units of it as in the case of the BRP Conrado Yap which is a Pohang-class Corvette from South Korea. Each of these has its own setup in terms of having fire control systems in which it varies from the origin of the ship as well as on the terms of the contract like in the case of the Jose Rizal-class Frigates.

Jose Rizal-class Frigates (2 units)
FCS: SELEX EX NA-25x Fire Control Radar

The Jose Rizal-class Frigates consist of two ships belonging to this class - BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) and the BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151). It will be the most advanced Philippine Navy ships in service once entered into service from its delivery from South Korea that it will obtain both a more sophisticated 76mm Main Gun (Oto Melara Super Rapid Gun) and an NA-25X Fire Control Radar made by Leonardo who is also the one behind the production of the main gun.

Both the main gun and the fire control radar is integrated into the ships' onboard Combat Management System which is the Hanwha Systems Naval Shield ICMS Baseline 2. By having so, the weapons management on board will be much manageable on an operation standpoint which increases the effectiveness and efficiency in terms of operating such guns onboard that helps improve the capability of these warships.

It is worth taking note that while the ships have a Fitted For, But Not With (FFBNW) item in terms of having the Vertical Launch System, it will require another set of Fire Control Radar given that a system such as the SELEX NA-25X is limited only to the primary gun control radar as intended.

Being in service with 20 Navies including the home country of Italy, serves with the highest reliability in which it serves primary naval ships including the incoming Jose Rizal-class Frigates with the best capability in terms of enabling the 76mm Super Rapid Gun to perform on its best ability.

Technical specifications can be provided here.

Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels (3 units)
BRP Conrado Yap - Pohang-class Corvette (1 unit plus 2 more proposed)
FCS: Mark 92 Fire Control System / WM-28 Fire Control System

This is virtually a US-utilized version that is in itself derived from the WM-25 Fire Control System produced by Signaal (Now Thales) in the Netherlands. It is utilized as a standard in all of the Hamilton-class WHECs of the United States Coast Guard which eventually benefited future owners like the Philippine Navy, Nigerian Navy, Bangladeshi Navy, and Vietnamese Navy, among others.

Like the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels may soon receive its own Combat Management System as part of its upgrade which comes with a hull-mounted sonar that enables its antisubmarine capability as well as a Radar Electronic Support Measure which is basically radar detection and intelligence. It will be of no surprise if both the Mark 92 Fire Control System and the Compact 76mm/62 Oto Melara Guns will be integrated to the Combat Management which is also being provided by Hanwha Systems, given that by having it means improving the overall capabilities onboard the vessels in terms of efficiency and effectiveness in operations.

It is also worth taking note that almost similar system is utilized onboard the Pohang class Corvettes in South Korea which includes the newly-commissioned BRP Conrado Yap wherein the WM-28 Fire Control System is also produced by Signaal (Now Thales) which this has seen as an improvement over the earlier WM-25 Fire Control Radar in which the Mark 92 was derived upon. 

Jacinto-class Patrol Vessel (3 units)
FCS: Saab EOS-500 Electro-Optical Tracking/Fire Control System (on PS-35);
Ultra Electronics Fire Control System (on PS-36 & PS-37)

Before the Peacock-class Patrol Vessels were turned over to the Philippine Navy from the Hong Kong squadron of the British Royal Navy, the fleet relied too much on its existing assets, mostly originated back to the Second World War with most of its guns being handled manually.

It was then that the then British warships, now Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels that the Navy was being introduced to the most sophisticated weapons system of its time which was the Compact 76mm Oto Melara Gun with the Rademec 2500 as its primary Fire Control System at the time of the turnover. 

Currently, the Patrol Vessels received upgrades on its systems which comes at no surprise on the replacement of Rademec 2500 FCS with a newer SAAB EOS-500 Fire Control Systems on the main warship of its class (with the only one having the SAAB 9LV as its Combat Management System) while the two other warships of the class have its own Fire Control System from Ultra Electronics.

With the upgrades taking place for both the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels and the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessel, it is as ascertained that there may be some time in the future that the key Philippine Navy warships may once again participate in a GUNNEX or Gun Exercise which showcase what the 76mm/62 Oto Melara guns are capable of in combat, in complement with newly-introducing platforms such as the antisubmarine warfare torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.

The BRP Conrado Yap obtains two 76mm Oto Melara Main Guns
where, if retained, makes it the ship with the most firepower
in terms of gunfire output.
Obtained from Source.
In the age of modern warfare, it may be said that naval battles are now being fought with anti-ship missiles and torpedoes which in itself is more effective in sinking out ships and submarines that are found to be threatening to the country and its national interest. All of which is part of systems warfare where it takes a quick second to react from an attack originated from air or underwater as well as a quick second to conduct an attack against an enemy ship at the highest opportunistic period.

But despite these things, most navies still retain the value of the gun wherein the 76mm/62 caliber Oto Melara Gun is still the preferred main primary gun choice of 50 countries with its respective navy fleets which makes it the most common primary gun on the western-oriented navies in which the Philippine Navy is included. It is fitted with various Fire Control System which comes different across ships where the same fundamental applies to track out targets that are provided to the main primary gun to eliminate for. Within the fleet, it is integrated into the key combat warships like the Jose Rizal-class Frigates on the recent warship produced to the first warships that entered the fleet with such a system such as the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels that provides hard lessons for the service branch to understand the operation, maintenance and troubleshoot of the weapons system until more ships have come to play.

The Philippine Navy in its entirety continues to grow as part of its greater Sail Plan initiative, and it will add more upon the production of new Offshore Patrol Vessels such as the ones to be built by Austal and the Corvette Acquisition Project which will be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries as a virtual Jose Rizal-class Frigates Flight II which will probably be fitted with the better, Super Rapid variant of the Oto Melara Gun. So, there will be more to come in terms of honing the gun firing capability more, as it will go hand in hand with other capabilities that involve missiles and torpedoes, both of which are coming to the Philippine Navy.

Everything You Need To Know: The Chinese Ships on Passing Sibutu Strait

Recent news provided the latest details regarding the incursions involving Chinese warships which are seen as entering Philippine waters while the others arguing it up as one of the innocent passage activities that the People's Liberation Army Navy given that they may simply pass there, but the fact that the Western Mindanao Command raising alarms about it regarding the seemingly-innocent move by the Chinese ships makes it less of innocent passage.

This is one of the ships that were seen traversing the waters of Sibutu
Strait lying west of Tawi-Tawi.
Source Courtesy of China Defense Today.
Before proceeding, let us take note that given the complexities that this discussion of Chinese ships that were involved in that passage, it compels us to write another article on this webpage wherein we will be discussing every ship involved to provide us additional details regarding the kind of fleet we are facing in.

Now to the details of the headlines: The Western Mindanao Command with its headquarters based in Zamboanga City released the information regarding the passage made by the Warships affiliated with China's People's Liberation Army Navy. 

While it is known that the ship's passage on its own worth is not that hostile at all, it is only that they report it as the personnel or even the officials on board these ships were not coordinated with the Philippine government regarding their intention of passing to the Sulu Sea through Sibutu Strait in which it is considered as Territorial Waters, under the military jurisdiction of the Western Mindanao Command.

So, this is definitely not a move which a friendly country like China would do, something that provides some idealistic thinking on how to re-approach on the relations with this country where they are notable of violating another nation's sovereignty such as the recent moves made by them through the portion of their naval fleet.

From here, it will be nice to discuss this matter a bit deeper to provide the idea about what the Chinese did, which ships are involved, the details regarding the respective ships, and a nice tidbit regarding the definition of Innocent Passage given that several people raise this up as to what the Chinese did, within the Philippine territorial waters in line to the statement of the Western Mindanao Command.

Reference: the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (link)
The concept of Innocent Passage. Image Source.
As provided in Section 3 Article 19 of the reference we provided, the definition of Innocent Passage is quoted as follows:

1. (The) Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.

2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:

(a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

(b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

(c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defense or security of the coastal State;

(d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defense or security of the coastal State;

(e) the launching, landing, or taking on board of any aircraft;

(f) the launching, landing, or taking on board of any military device;

(g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration, or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;

(h) any act of wilful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;

(i) any fishing activities;

(j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;

(k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

(l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.

This reminds us of the United States conducting Freedom of Navigation Patrols in the West Philippine Sea where there is a striking difference between the two: Freedom of Navigation Patrols are for a country with its navy traversing the waters as a challenge of its claims as what the US did against Chinese outposts that are against the International Law while Innocent Passage is for a traversing fleet of ships - civilian and military doing a swift passage within territorial waters as long as they do not conduct any activities that are prohibited under the provisions such as surveillance and military exercises.

So, in the transcripts, as detailed in this article by the Western Mindanao Command, there is not exactly a swift passage of Chinese warships within the territory on a straight line but rather, the vessels concerned changes course upon observing the Philippine Military's presence in the area, a blatant violation of conducting innocent passage in Sibutu Strait. 

Hence, the suspicious actions made by the Chinese fleet at the time of the incident may suffice enough for the WesMinCom in the jurisdiction to report and provide details that are seen as hampering the country's sovereignty.

See more: U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence - PLA Navy Identification Guide.

Now that the details provided regarding the definitions on the innocent passage, the scope it covers, the provisions it entails, and observations that need to be applied on practice by traversing ships within territorial waters, it is now worth to understand regarding the ships involved in the incident given that this will not be enough for our Facebook page to articulately provide the information thoroughly.

AORH CNS Luomahu (骆马湖) No. 964
A Type 903-class Replenishment Ship AORH CNS Luomahu (骆马湖) with Hull No. 964,
NATO Codename: Fuchi-class Replenishment Ship.
Image Courtesy of the Western Mindanao Command.
This Type 903-class Replenishment ship by the name of AORH CNS Luomahu (骆马湖) was built by Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard, Shanghai, China five years ago in 2014. She has launched a year later on 05 June 2015 and Commissioned on 15 July 2016. Typically she is an Auxiliary Vessel Tanker (10,500 tonnes fuel)and Ammunition Ship with 680 tonnes of ammunition and stores. She is armed with 8 37mm AA (4-twin) and 4-30mm Guns (Single Mounts). Max Speed of 19 knots, Z-8 Capable, and a crew of 130 Officers and Men. Currently assigned to the South Sea Fleet.

Type-071 Amphibious Support Ship CNS Kunlun Shan (昆仑山) No. 998
A Type-071 Amphibious Support Ship CNS Kunlun Shan (昆仑山) with Hull No.998,
NATO Codename: Yuzhao-class Amphibious Support Ship.
Image Courtesy of the Western Mindanao Command.
The Amphibious Support Ship Kunlun Shan (昆仑山), like the other ships of its class, is currently designated in China's South Sea Fleet with its main HQ based in Zhanjiang with naval bases provided here

Specifications are as follows, based originally on this Chinese-written site here (archived version here) and IHS Janes archived site here.

Displacement: 25,000 tons full load.
Length: 210 m (689 ft 0 in)
Beam: 28 m (91 ft 10 in)
Draft: 7 m (23 ft 0 in)
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Range: 10,000 nmi (19,000 km) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Boats & landing craft carried: 4 × Type 726 Yuyi class LCAC; Landing craft on port/starboard davits
Troop Capacity: 600–800 troops
1 × AK-176 76 mm (3.0 in) gun
4 × AK-630 30 mm (1.2 in) CIWS
4 × 18-tube Type 726-4 decoy/chaff launcher
Possible installation of 2–4 heavy machine guns (Fitted for but not with)
Aircraft carried: 4 Z-8 

Dong Hai Jiu 101 ship ARS Nan Hai Jiu 195
A Dong Hai Jiu 101 ARS Nan Hai Jiu 195. A Naval Auxillary Ship
which is in itself a Salvage/Rescue Vessel.
Image Courtesy of the Western Mindanao Command.
The apparent length of such ship is in 110 meters while its purpose to be with the rest of the fleet on the time of the incident is more on the support side in the same manner with the replenishment ship CNS Luomahu. As such, support ships such as this area usual thing for them to have along with the fleet wherein it comes at handy in times of distress such as a Chinese warship experiencing problems in the high seas. China's PLA-N does not have the benefit of a Navy like the United States in terms of overseas bases for immediate rescue.

Type 054-class Frigate vessel CNS Xuchang (许昌) No. 536
A Type 054-class Frigate vessel CNS Xuchang (许昌) with Hull No. 536,
NATO Codename: Jiangkai II-Class Frigate.
Image Courtesy of the Western Mindanao Command.
CNS Xuchang (536) which is a Jiangkai II-Class Frigate was commissioned on 23 June 2017. She has a full weapons outfit that is similar across the ships of this class such as a 32-cell Vertical Launching System (VLS), eight C-802 anti-ship missiles, and a 76-mm main gun. Running on a CODAD-powered which comes with 4 Shaanxi 16 PA6 STC diesel engines that can generate 5700 kW with an estimated speed of 27 knots. Its dimensions are 134m-length x 16m-beam with a load displacement of around 4,000 tons.
Reference Source linked here.
And finally, to complete the list...

Type-815g Dongdiao-class Auxiliary General Intelligence Ship (II) CNS Tiangwangxing No. 853
A Dongdiao AGI (II) CNS Tiangwangxing with Hull No. 853.
Definitely, the one that monitors RIMPAC Exercise last year.
Image Courtesy of the Western Mindanao Command.
Being a surveillance vessel or known also as an Electronic Reconnaissance Ship, it comes to no surprise that this is the same ship that shadows other military vessels especially in monitoring military exercises of multilateral nations like the last year's RIMPAC 2018. Being a spy ship, it comes to no surprise as to why this comes with suspicion given that there is the potential that such a vessel, with its sophisticated sensors onboard, conducted surveillance within territorial waters which may tantamount to violating innocent passage in the area. Such a ship appeared in the area is worth a vigilance with, downplaying any Sinophobic allegations that may get from here.


The details provided by the Western Mindanao Command is simply considered part of their duties and responsibilities as the defenders of the nation particularly on their jurisdiction which covers a vast area encompassing Western Mindanao, the Sulu Sea, and areas such as the Sibutu Strait where the recent incident is for them to report up to the national level for agencies like the Department of Foreign Affairs to take action, diplomatically.

This is considered the recent incident involving Chinese Warships being inside the Philippine Territory with the other one being in the waters of Balabac in Palawan, being under the jurisdiction of the Western Command.

These recent actions involving Chinese vessels are slowly becoming more of national concern, especially that both incidents, all Chinese warships enter the waters while not notifying the authorities regarding their entry, given that these warships are armed and are worth a close watch wherein China in its case is notable of doing stuff which may consider as a breach on one's sovereignty.

It comes to no surprise despite the warming of relations between the Philippines and China wherein the latter still sticks to its national interest which may go imperialistic in nature. All that it takes now is to improve the country's maritime presence where both the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy are ramping up efforts of purchasing vessels such as Offshore Patrol Vessels.

So, this may serve as a realization that actions may need to be done to prevent such a situation to happen again. It is also a nice time to have a stand especially on the country's national interest and sovereignty which are both essential and important for the whole nation's welfare and survival.


The Chinese recently conducted its passage on the Sibutu Strait situated west of Tawi-Tawi where it is seen by the Western Mindanao Command as suspicious enough to raise concerns, something that may potentially affect national security.

With the ships composing of a frigate, an amphibious support vessel, a surveillance/electronic reconnaissance vessel, and two support vessels, it may only be worth of suspicion wherein its passage may simply not be ignored upon.

With the reports coming up, it now goes to the trend that China has its warships traversing territorial waters, where this is worth the vigilance for the people to have given that such actions are potentially provocative even with such passage being less of a harmful one.

So, on the contents of this article, we understand about the vessel composition in a manner that additional knowledge was incurred regarding the details that matter on understanding a situation such as this one.

All that it takes now is to see how actions will be made by the administration especially by the Armed Forces and the Diplomats as to how they will handle the situation up to keep things in control. Nevertheless, the actions made are a realization that comes with this quote: Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.




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