Knowing the Philippine Navy's Jacinto-class Offshore Patrol Vessels

The Philippine Navy of today gets a bit more modernized than ever as it keeps on receiving more sophisticated and ever-capable vessels on its fleet which is something that is not available on its other vessels in existence before 2010 by which its fitted weaponry onboard comes with the obsolescence in time. 

The acquisition of this class of warship though was considered the significant first step for this military branch of the Philippine Armed Forces which comes at a necessity where it introduces new skillsets that may go handful with the number of ships that are getting commissioned to the fleet in the upcoming years.

Navy sailors embarking to the lead ship of its class the BRP
Emilio Jacinto PS-35.
Image Courtesy to the Philippine Navy
Currently, the primary focus of the Philippine Navy is with the recruitment of additional personnel to man up the ships and sustain the operations of the naval forces, improving and enhancing its doctrine, training, facilities, reorganization, and other stuff that are usually discussed on multiple Philippine defense sites including this one especially in terms of purchasing multiple military assets that will improve and enhance the fleet's capabilities to uphold its mandate.

Some of the recent purchases of the naval component of the Armed Forces of the Philippines includes the Pohang-class Corvette BRP Conrado Yap, Jose Rizal-class Frigates, Offshore Patrol Vessels which are to be done in a deal with Austal, Corvettes, and Submarines, in which these prospective vessels for procurement are something that the Navy sees as a need for ensuring the security of the country's vast waters and its long coastline.

While these developments are a significant accomplishment that will help push the Philippine Navy to its greater capability, here comes a vessel which was purchased two decades ago wherein it comes with its own set of stories that came with it as it serves the fleet, the lessons it provides for the crew in terms of skillsets that may, later on, be a handful for the future personnel which will man the newer vessels of the fleet, and the capabilities it provides along the way.

Let it be known that it is considered the most capable vessel for the fleet at the turn of the century, as it comes with the highly understandable fact that the composition during those times consist of old, World War 2 vessels of which several are still in service today and needs replacement like the aforementioned projects in the process.

It is worth knowing more about these ships as these platforms play a factor that may set a foundation for a modernized Philippine Navy that is currently experienced along with the overall efforts of the Armed Forces for its Modernization efforts that have come with the idea for the Minimum Credible Defense Posture that deals both internal and external threats for better national security.

The ships serve within the British Royal Navy before its
transfer to the Philippine Navy after the turnover of
Hong Kong in 1998.
Image Source.
The service of the Jacinto-class Offshore Patrol Vessels started as vessels serving the British Armed Forces through its Royal Navy as it patrolled what was once considered as a crown colony in Asia-Pacific which is definitely the City of Hong Kong, a place which is currently an Autonomous Region within the People's Republic of China - the one that does all of the incursion and provocations in the West Philippine Sea.

It was produced in 1981 as ordered by the British Royal Navy to the Hall Russell Shipbuilding Company in Aberdeen, Scotland wherein they built five hulls, naming the Peacock (lead ship of the class), Plover, Starling, Swallow, and Swift wherein it was meant primarily to be deployed to Hong Kong as a replacement to the older Ton-class Minesweeper that was produced three decades ago way back 1950s

From its production, the ships are gallantly protecting the Far Eastern Colony of Hong Kong which was then under the slowly-fading British Empire with two of the ships - HMS Swallow and HMS Swift getting transferred to the Irish Navy in 1988 as the Ciara and Orla, respectively with the remaining ships continuously doing its job until they hand over the country to the Chinese and the rest is history - with three vessels transferred to the Philippine Navy.

Its design goes sufficient to its function as a patrol vessel protecting a small territory in the Far East, by which it helped patrol the country's archipelagic waters later on as it fully augments the older vessels that the Philippine Navy obtained at that time as time gets by for the fleet to get more sophisticated vessels along the way.

Hence, its introduction to the naval component of the Armed Forces is something that serves as a stepping stone for the fleet's eventual modernization, later on, as its operation comes with challenges ahead with the sophistication of its guns creating problems with its function until things get figured out later on.

BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36). Image obtained from
Offshore Combat Force Facebook Page.
Currently, three warships are serving in the Philippine Navy fleet under this class, continuously in active duty, and is in line with the rule of three in which one unit is preparing for its operations at sea, another unit is available for maritime operations, and a final unit returning from its active operations which it will undergo maintenance and repairs, preparing for its another set of duties.

The Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels are composed of the following ships - the BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35), BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36, as seen in the image above), and the BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37), all of which were from the British Royal Navy's Peacock-class warships that were once assigned in Hong Kong as a patrol squadron protecting the city before the 1997 turnover.

The BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35) is currently the lead ship of its class, wherein it was formerly known as the HMS Peacock (P239) in which was also the lead ship of its class that was launched in 1982 and commissioned in 1983 for the British Royal Navy, served 14 years in the Hong Kong Squadron until it was turned over to the Philippine Navy on August 4, 1997, and serve the fleet since then until the present day.

Just like the lead ship, the BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36) and the BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37) also served the British Royal Navy as part of the Hong Kong Squadron, known as the HMS Plover (P240) and HMS Starling (P241), launched in 1983 and commissioned in 1984 until it was decommissioned in 1997 (totaling 13 years in RN service), which in turn it was transferred to the Philippine Navy and serves at full capacity to this day.

From there, these three ships served most of their active duty in the Philippine Navy in which since 1997, each of the vessels served 24 years in the fleet, living through the periods when the fleet was composed of old, World War 2 vessels, up to the day this article published in which at this time, wherein the fleet now composed of modern vessels like the Jose Rizal-class Frigates, with the said old vessels mostly decommissioned.

The ex Peacock-class OPV Specifications. Click to enlarge.
The ship's dimension, speed, and range suffice the needs back then for the requirement of having an Offshore Patrol Vessel in the fleet that serves as an augmentation to the old World War 2 vessels wherein several of such vessels are being put out from service recently as newer vessels are about to enter the fleet on the upcoming months or years.

Add to the mix regarding the weapons fit that these vessels obtain which at that time may be considered as a transformative development to the capabilities of the Philippine Navy as it departed from purely mechanical-operated weapons subcomponents to a bit modern one through the 76mm main guns that the Emilio Jacinto-class obtains, in which it will be proven beneficial upon the arrival of more modern warships in the Philippine Navy such as the Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels and eventually, the Jose Rizal-class Frigates

With regards to its dimensions, its length of 62.2 meters and the beam of 10 meters do suffice at the time it entered the Philippine Navy service as most of its vessels were consist primarily of small vessels or vessels that at par to its sizes such as the Rizal-class corvettes which were once the 67.41-meter long (221.2 ft) Auk-class minesweepers, with only the BRP Rajah Humabon being the largest combat warship of the Philippine fleet at the time at 93 meters (or 306 feet) long overall and 11.23 meter wide (36.10 feet beam), aside from large Landing Ship Tanks or LSTs in which, as the bulk of the fleet, were old and derived from the Second World War.

Future warships of the Philippine Navy like the soon-to-have Offshore Patrol Vessels will come as larger and more capable than these ex Peacock-class patrol vessels made by the British, with both types of warships augmenting each other in securing the wide seas that surround the Philippine archipelago against maritime threats that endangers the country's sovereignty and national interest.

To take some note, the Jacinto-class Offshore Patrol Vessels are considered younger than the ex-Hamilton-class cutters that the Philippine Navy currently operates (Del Pilar-class Offshore Patrol Vessels), and as nearly as young as the Pohang-class vessel that the fleet also operates with BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) produced in 1986, two years after the last Peacock-class was launched in the drydock.

The original upgrade plan for the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels as screengrab in a
DRP Facebook Group Page thread.
Image reference.
Just like any other vessels within a naval fleet, an upgrade introduced in a warship will specifically increase its overall firepower and capability of eliminating seaborne targets, reinforcing further the required security and protection that the country requires in deterring any threats that an opposition force or OPFOR, in case a war will be started in the seas that threaten the country's sovereignty and its citizen's way of living.

As seen on a screengrab above as shared by the members of the Defense of the Republic of the Philippines Facebook Group, it has known that the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels can accommodate the short-range type of missiles, reminiscent of the SPIKE-ER now currently fitted onboard the MPAC Mk. 3s that the Philippine Navy now obtains, although these British made-ships came with concerns about top load as described above.

With the original plan scrapped, it seemed that the plans for upgrading these warships will just end there. As it turned out, the plans for the upgrade of these Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels still push through. Even though that it came in a different configuration than those subcomponents depicted and provided in the original upgrade plan wherein the process came with different phases such as in Phases 1, 3A, and 3B, all of which deal with sustainment, restoration, and upgrade of all vessels of the Jacinto-class in terms primarily to its firepower capabilities, and to keep these vessels in upright shape to operate.

To summarize the phases mentioned as it was linked to other defense pages that already discussed it in detail, it was taken note that Phase 1 of the project was bagged by QinetiQ Security and Defense Contractors based in Farnborough, Hampshire in the United Kingdom, wherein they provided an MSI Defence DS-25 Seahawk A1 RCWS with M242 25mm Bushmaster Naval Gun, alongside other components which primarily consist of different kinds of sensors and navigational systems. Meanwhile, Both the Phase 3A and 3B of the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessel came with different vendors, with the Phase 3A bagged by Ultra Electronics Ltd for the upgrade of BRP Apolinario Mabini (PS-36) and BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37), and Phase 3B bagged by a joint venture between Propmech and the Swedish-based Saab AB in which both winning bidders of these two phases provided sophisticated sensors, navigational equipment, repair of weapons such as the 76mm Oto Melara main gun, and in the case of BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35), a fully-capable and proper Combat Management System like the SAAB 9LV CMS

Having the Saab 9LV CMS on board BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS-35) makes it the second Combat Management System that the Philippine Navy operates, alongside Hanwha System's Naval Shield ICMS that is installed onboard the Jose Rizal-class Frigates.

Given the information provided, we have witnessed the progress of the vessel's upgrades, both planned and implemented, in which the materialized phases assured the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessel's continuity of its active service within the Philippine Navy, keeping and upholding its capabilities as part of the mandated duties and responsibilities of its crew that upholds national security through maritime means for the years to come.


The Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels has served two navies and still operating actively as part of the Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force as it plays the role of securing the country's territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone waters in which it received multiple upgrades and maintenance-related perks throughout its serviceable life within the fleet.

For most of its first 14 years in service, these formerly Peacock-class Offshore Patrol Vessels were considered the prestige and influence of the British in its Far Eastern colony of Hong Kong, after all of its other colonies in the region declared their respective independence from this major European power that has influenced their society throughout the 18th, 19th, and the first half of the 20th Century.

As the old millennium draws to a close, the British Empire decided to end its influence in the region by returning the City of Hong Kong back to the Chinese government in July of 1997, rendering the retirement of the British Royal Navy's once-endeared protectors of the city known as the Peacock-class Offshore Patrol Vessels in which it was turned over to both the Philippine Navy and the Irish Naval Service.

Since then, the Philippine Navy received three ships of such type from the British, in which it was considered one of the sophisticated vessels that the fleet received at the time of its entry, especially when it was the first one that is fitted with 76mm Oto Melara Guns which eventually helped the fleet improve its skillsets required in attaining additional assets that are bigger and more complex than the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels.

Currently, with the upgrades received in terms of armaments, sensors, and navigational equipment, the Jacinto-class Patrol Vessels are expected to serve actively in the Philippine Navy's Offshore Combat Force for the years to come, as the whole Armed Forces of the Philippines is still working to have better-equipped, more credible, fully modernized military with a minimum credible defense posture set until the year 2028.

(c) 2021 PDA.

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