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Strategic Sealift Vessel Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy

 To improve its amphibious capabilities in support of the Philippine Marine Corps, and also to boost its logistics support capabilities in overall support of the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine Navy has embarked on the acquisition of the Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV), which is part of the AFP Modernization Program Phase 3.

This project supersedes the Multi-Role Vessel Acquisition Project that was started by the Arroyo administration, although it still involves the acquisition of a Landing Platform Dock (LPD) type vessel.

Two (2) units are for procurement and will complement the Philippine Navy's existing amphibious and maritime transport assets, and are expected to be their biggest ships once commissioned.

BRP Tarlac (LD-601), the Philippine Navy's first Landing Platform Dock, photographed on a Philippine Navy helicopter as she was underway to Manila from a delivery trip from Surabaya, Indonesia. Photo taken from the Philippine Navy PIO, cropped to focus more on the ship.

Project Summary:

Strategic Sealift Vessel Acquisition Project

Note: Edited as of 07 February 2020:

* End User: Philippine Navy (Sealift Amphibious Force)

* Quantity: 2 units

* Modernization Phase: Phase 3 (2005-2012) of AFPMP

* Project ABC: Php4,000,000,000.00

* Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund, to be paid via Multi-Year Obligation Authority (MYOA)

* SARO Release: TBA

* Winning Proponent: PT PAL (Persero) Indonesia

* Product for Delivery: 

    - 2 units Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV)
    - 4 units Landing Craft Utility (LCU, 2 units for each SSV)
    - 4 units Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB, 2 units for each SSV)
    - Integrated Logistics Support Package

* Contract Price: Php3,863,999,520.00
* Difference between ABC and Contract Price: Php136,000,480.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 22 June 2013

* Searching Hashtag: #PNSSVAcquisition

* Status: Awarded to Indonesia's PT PAL (Persero), contract signed on June 2014. BRP Tarlac (LD-601) delivered 16 May 2016, commissioned 01 June 2016. BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) delivered 08 May 2017, commissioned 31 May 2017. PROJECT COMPLETED as of 31 May 2017.


Below are the specifications released by PT PAL for the Tarlac-class LPD, as mentioned in their websites, display posters, and several other sources:

Dimensions: 123 meters length x 21.8 meters breadth x 5 meters draft
Crew: 121 officers and men
 - Cruising Speed: 13 knots
 - Maximum Speed: 16 knots
Minimum Operating Range: 7,500 nautical miles @ cruising speed
Maximum Range: 9,360 nautical miles
Endurance: 30 days
 - Empty Weight: 7,200 tons
 - Full Load : 11,583 tons
Engines: 2 x MAN-STX diesel engines, each with 2,920 KW output, coupled to controllable pitch propellers
Capacity: over 500 troops & guests, plus vehicles and equipment
Helideck: for 2 medium (10-ton) helicopters
Hangar: for 1 medium (10-ton) helicopter
Navigation Radar: Furuno X & S band
Watercraft Carried:
 - 2 x 23-meter landing craft utility / landing craft medium on well deck
 - 2 x RHIB on port and starboard davits. Each RHIB can carry 9 men and run up to 35 knots

PT PAL's booth highlighted the Tarlac-class LPD/SSV during the Philippine Fleet's anniversary in Cavite Naval Base last month. Photo taken from the Philippine Fleet's Facebook page.

These actual specifications are all within the specified requirements during the tender, and in some cases even exceeded the requirement especially on the ship's minimum dimensions and displacement.

There appears to be some discrepancies on the dimensions as well, as some sources indicate it at 120 meters length x 20 meters breadth x 5 meters draft. MaxDefense believes that the dimensions indicated in the chart above is closer to the actual dimensions, if not, are the actual dimensions. It is also unclear what diesel engine model was used, either MAN 9L28/32A as indicated in the original design, or the MAN 8L27/38 as indicated in recent . It appears that they actually used the more powerful 8L27/38 which produced 700KW more that originally designed, based on PT PAL's information boards during the Philippine Fleet's anniversary in 2016.

Full load displacement is also debatable, as previous reports indicated that the ship has a maximum displacement of 10,300 tons, although the latest IHS Jane's Fighting Ships listed the Tarlac-class as having a full load displacement of 11,583 tons. It is highly possible that the figures are closer to what IHS Jane's reported due to several changes in the ship's design and specifications that were not made public after the initial reports were made in 2014-2015 based on the original design.

Weapons and Sensors:

One apparent observation by many people, including those who are not familiar with military matters, are the ship's lack of weapons, sensors, advanced communication, and electronic warfare systems when it arrived in Manila. The lack of electronics systems was apparent with the absence of antennas and radar scanners except for the Furuno X & S-band navigation radars.

For those who have not been following the project, the technical specifications indicated that the ship would be delivered without weapons and advanced sensors, but will have space, power requirements, and fittings for the following:

- 1 x primary gun at the "A" forward position
- 2 x secondary guns on top of the superstructure near the hangar
- surface search radar
- air search radar
- electronic warfare suite
- combat management system
- electro-optical fire control system

Manually-operated general purpose machine guns will be positioned around the ship as Philippine Navy finds it necessary.

So far, MaxDefense's sources confirmed that the Philippine Navy is looking at arming the Tarlac-class with at least a 76mm main gun in the forward position, and two RCWS 25mm guns as secondary. No confirmation yet on what brand or type of main and secondary guns to be used, but the PN is looking at Oto Melara's 76mm Compact or Super Rapid gun for the main gun.

The BRP Tarlac has provided for mounts to install the secondary guns at the superstructure deck above the hangar.  The ship was also provided with a deck hole and below-deck space for a 76mm main gun in the forward "A" position area. Photo taken from Gombaljaya via PDFF Forum.

The Oto Melara 76mm Compact gun is standard on the Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates and Jacinto-class patrol vessels. The Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid, if selected, is new to the PN, but is expected to be the main gun of the upcoming new frigates to be built by the winning shipbuilder. 

The Mk.38 Mod.2 guns are standard on the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), and the Mk.38 Mod.3 in 25mm variant with the BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15). Other options might also be considered, including the Aselsan SMASH 30mm which is standard in the Jose Rizal-class frigates, and the MSI Defence Seahawk similar to those fitted in the Jacinto-class patrol vessels.

It is expected that the ship will be armed with a 76mm naval gun from Oto Melara. It is still unclear where it would come from, or if the PN will go for a new gun, a refurbished one, or transplanted from a PN ship.

Being a high-value target, high-priority asset, MaxDefense believes that the ship should have a more complex defensive weapon suite that will allow it to defend not only from small crafts and ships, but also against sea-skimming anti-ship missiles and aircraft. This will be composed of hard kill solutions like missiles and CIWS guns, and soft kill solutions like electronic jamming, support measures (ESM) and countermeasures (ECM), and modern chaff dispenser systems. MaxDefense proposes the installation of an Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun instead of the older Compact model, upgraded to STRALES standard firing DART weapons against anti-ship missiles, at least two Simbad-RC very short range air defense system (VSHORAD) on each side of the ship, and at least a single Mk.15 Phalanx CIWS as a minimum requirement to defend the ship from anti-ship missiles. It may not be enough, but it should be at least a minimum requirement. Currently a new Phalanx Block 1B model costs upward of $13 million each based on a recent sale to South Korea, although the US could sell older model Phalanx previously used by decommissioned US Navy ships could be a good start that will definitely cost cheaper. Upgrades can be done later on as deemed necessary. MaxDefense was told that the Philippine Navy is interested on Phalanx for select PN ships, although it is unclear if the Tarlac-class are among those being eyed for installation.

The Philippine Navy previously mentioned that the Tarlac-class will have a surface-search radar, an air-search radar, Electro-Optical Fire Control System (EO-FCS), Electronic Warfare (EW) suite, and a Combat Management System (CMS). All these are still absent with the ship. But MaxDefense sources confirmed that the Philippine Navy might follow the systems to be installed on the new frigates for commonality and easy integration. Thus, it is expected that the PN will combine the surface search radar and air-search radar into a single, more modern 3D surface/air search radar system, as what they did to the new frigate. 

Installation of a navalized navigation radar with secondary surface search and helicopter operation guidance capability is also possible to complement or replace the existing Furuno civilian-spec radars, but that is subject to further clarification. Possible candidates might be the Kelvin Hughes Sharpeye naval radar which is standard to several ships of the PN. The JCPV upgrade can also be the template for the EO-FCS to be used.

It is NOT expected for the ship to have a sonar system, so no need to push for that and leave them for surface combatants.

MaxDefense believes that as a minimum, the Philippine Navy should install a VSHORAD system for limited defense aginst aerial threats, like MBDA's Simbad-RC (above) firing Mistral missiles, and a CIWS to defend against sea-skimming anti-ship missiles and low level aircraft, like the Mk.15 Phalanx (below). Photo of Simbad RC taken from MBDA's website, while the photo of Phalanx taken from Wikimedia.

Helicopter / Aviation Facilities:

Due to its specified requirement to have a helicopter landing deck for two helicopters, MaxDefense expected that PT PAL would probably use the dimensions of the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) Makassar-class LPD's helideck instead of the Banjarmasin-class, which has a longer deck for 3 helicopters. Each helideck grid appears to be smaller as opposed to larger LPD designs, although this is normal. In this design, helicopters need to be in a diagonal position when landing on the ship, instead of a usual parallel as seen on other LPD designs, specifically from Europe and US. 

BRP Tarlac (LD-601), with its helicopter deck and hangar visible. Note that the helicopter operations control station can be seen on top of the hangar. Photo taken from PT PAL's website.

Helicopter deck weight capacity was designed for 10-ton medium helicopters, more specifically, the Black Hawk series which is currently the largest helicopter in the AFP inventory (Philippine Air Force's 250th Presidential Airlift Wing). Full load Black Hawks or Seahawks have a designed limit of around 10 tons, while other PAF and PN helicopters (UH-1D/H, W-3A, Bell 412, S-76, AW-109, BO-105, MD-520MG) are smaller and would not have problems with it. But it is unclear if the deck can be used for heavier helicopters, like the NH90, whose maximum take-off weight (TOW) is over 11-tons, the EC725 Caracal whose maximum TOW is over 12 tons, and the CH-47 Chinook whose maximum TOW is 25 tons. 

Load distribution of the deck might be designed to allow a single helicopter of greater than 10 tons weight to operate, although the limit is unknown and might not be released by PT PAL or the Philippine Navy. 

The Tarlac-class' hangar is designed to accommodate a single 10-ton class helicopter, in line with the ship's helideck designed capacity. Currently, this is acceptable since the PN is still in the process of learning the complex operations of amphibious assault ships, but future SSV/LPD designs should at least increase the hangar space for at least two 10-ton helicopters to allow flexibility. This is possible by enlarging the ship to avoid reducing the space capacity for troops and cargo, and enlarging the hangar.

The Tarlac-class' hangar is very similar to the hangar of the Makassar-class, shown above, which is designed to accommodate a 10-ton class helicopter. The similarities between the two ship classes are very strong, with the ships being practically sisterships. Photo taken from Gombaljaya c/o Timawa forum.

The Black Hawk has been the template of the Philippine Navy for several reasons. Aside from being the current largest helicopter in the AFP, it is also eyed to be acquired in more numbers by the Philippine Air Force including requirements for the Presidential Airlift fleet. Being a command and control vessel in a secondary role, the country's leaders are welcome to use the ship during emergencies, and they are expected to arrive via helicopters of the PAF's 250th PAW.

Aside from that, the Philippine Navy is reportedly eyeing to acquire larger helicopters to be used on the Tarlac-class and all other future amphibious assault ship classes. And the Black Hawk series are among those being considered although larger helicopters are reportedly given more interest from the navy's leadership.

The Sikorsky Black Hawk is the template used by the Philippine Navy for the Tarlac-class' helideck and hangar capacity, for a reason that is very leading.

Cargo Carrying Capability

The Tarlac-class has a side ramp allowing vehicle and troop access to the vehicle storage deck while the ship is docked. The vehicle storage deck also has direct access to the well deck at the rear of the ship, where two small LCU or LCM, named BRP 601-1 and BRP 601-2, are docked. 

There appears to be only 1 level of vehicle storage deck, and has a vehicle capacity good for a mix of armored vehicles, trucks, utility vehicles, and the amphibious assault vehicles.  

Total cargo capacity, including troops, vehicles, and cargo, has a total capacity for 2,800 tons. Accommodation for 500 troops is also provided.

For a ship of this size, the capacity is understandable and acceptable. But this also shows that the current Tarlac-class is still small compared to foreign LPDs, particularly the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN, aka the Chinese Navy) whose Type 071 which are almost double the size of the PN's pride. 

Using Peru's own Buque Multiporposito (Multipurpose Vessel) LPD, which is also another design based on the Makassar-class, the vehicle deck is directly accessible to the well deck where the LCU/LCM are located. Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) can be launched directly to the sea as well. The Tarlac-class has a very similar layout as this one, although the vehicle capacity is said to be a little less to compensate for the larger number of troop and cargo accommodation.

The Makassar-class' well deck, with amphibious armored vehicles ready for launching. The Tarlac-class has a similar well deck layout and design, although the Philippine Navy will be more of a KAAV/AAV-7 user instead of BMP-3 as with its counterparts in the Indonesian Marine Corps. Photo taken from Gombaljaya c/o Timawa forum.

U P D A T E S:

22 June 2013:

As posted in MaxDefense Philippines' blog entry "Developments on Strategic Sealift Vessel Purchase for the Philippine Navy - Invitation to Bid Released"
The Philippine Navy (PN), through the Department of National Defense (DND) has released the Invitation to Bid for the Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) acquisition project. The requirement is for two (2) units with an Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) worth Php 4 billion pesos.

The cost includes the vessels, and an Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package for the PN. Delivery requirements is for the first vessel to be delivered within 730 calendar days (exactly 2 years) from opening the Letter of Credit, and the second vessel to be delivered within 365 days (exactly 1 year) from delivery of the first vessel.

A Pre-Bid Conference will be held on July 2, 2013, and submission and opening of bids is "tentatively" scheduled on July 16, 2013. "Tentative" since most bids done by the DND have pushed the submission and opening date further due to bidder's requests or other issues, so MaxDefense expects it to move, although still hoping that it won't to avoid delays in the project schedule.

Below is an excerpt from the Invitation to Bid released by the DND this June 2013:

Excerpt from the Invitation to Bid released by the DND this month. Photo taken from Timawa.net c/o 40niner_com.

So far no specifications were released to the public by the DND or PN. W
e can only speculate on the SSV's possible specification through the previous announcements from the DND or PN, offers made by some of the potential bidders, and comparison to similar vessels in service with other navies. The only given in the documents shown above is the price: it cost less to buy 2 SSVs than a single MRV, which was previously budgeted at Php 5 billion each bundled with landing crafts, armored vehicles, support vehicles and a mobile hospital (as in the case of South Korea's offer for a Doosan-made LPD similar to Indonesia's Makassar-class).

The Makassar-class was offered in the MRV project by South Korea, although a smaller  derivative design  is reportedly offered. Photo taken from Timawa.net forums c/o Adroth.

It is presumed that the SSV will be smaller in size than the Multi-Role Vessel (MRV), thus reducing its cargo and passenger capacity, helicopter carrying capacity and number of landing deck spaces, and well deck size. It might also mean that the on-board medical facility and medical bed space capacity might be less than the MRV as well, although this is still speculation. 

Singapore's ST Marine offered the Endurance 120 design.
Photo taken from ST Marine's website.

MaxDefense previously discussed in short detail regarding the SSV program, where it was discussed that previous news reports that the SSV has drawn attention from several naval suppliers from different countries like 
Japan, Singapore, South Korea, France and Italy. Previous details also include it's capability to perform as a Search and Rescue (SAR) platform during disasters, is fitted with hospital facilities and a helicopter landing deck, and capability to transport a battalion of troops with their armored vehicles.

Indonesia's PT PAL previously displayed a scale model with basic specifications. It is so far the closest information on the SSV's possible specifications.

MaxDefense previously confirmed three of the said offers as Singapore ST Engineering's Endurance 120 series of multi-role vessel; Indonesia PT PAL's SSV-LPD which is a smaller derivative of the Makassar-class; and a special model from Spain's Navantia which is based on Athlas LPD 8000 but is much simpler and smaller. No confirmation until now on what other offers were made by other countries.

MaxDefense is waiting for further confirmation on details of the project, which will be discussed here later on. Emphasis will be on what included items are bundled with the program, if the requirement for on-board landing crafts, armored vehicles, support vehicles and mobile hospital will be pursued separately, the confirmed specifications of the ships including armaments requirements, helicopter facilities, capacity and sensors systems.


16 June 2013:

As posted on the MaxDefense Philippines' blog entry "9 Potential Bidders for the Philippine Navy Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) Program".

For the upcoming bidding to supply 2 brand-new Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) for the Philippine Navy (PN) worth Php 2 billion each, there were 9 potential bidders, these are entities that bought the bid documents from the Department of National Defense (DND). The following are the said companies/entities that might submit bids on August 29, 2013 (click on the company name to view their official webpages):

1.  ASTARTEZ Defense and Rescue Solutions (Philippines) - Coastal Industries Pte Ltd (Singapore/Vietnam) Joint Venture;

2. Daewoo International Corp. / Dae Sun Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd. (South Korea);
3. Keppel Philippines Marine, Inc. (Singapore/Philippines);
4. Larsen and Toubro Ltd. / L&T Shipbuilding (India);
5. PROPMECH Corp. (Philippines)
6. PT Citra Shipyard (Indonesia)
7. PT PAL (Indonesia)
8. Stone of David (Philippines);
9. STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. (South Korea)

Let us get to know these companies, below are MaxDefense' initial information about them:

ASTARTEZ Defense and Rescue Solutions is a company based in Paranaque City, which specializes in supplying small arms, tactical and rescue gear and personal combat equipment, and has no experience in shipbuilding or marine products. The company has identified its marine component joint venture as Coastal Industries Pte. Ltd., said to be a Singaporean-Vietnamese company. MaxDefense tried to find anything about this foreign company but have failed miserably. MaxDefense will try to find out more about Coastal Industries Pte. Ltd.

Daewoo International Corp. and Dae Sun Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd. are large South Korean companies, and prides itself of being the designer and builder of the Makassar-class Landing Platform Dock (LPD) for the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL), and is currently involved in supplying the Peruvian Navy with a similar ship under is "Buque Multiproposito" project. It was known before that they offered the Philippine Navy with a Makassar-class derived design for the PN's Multirole Vessel (MRV) project before, and is believed to be offering a smaller derivative for the SSV project. Due to their previous cooperations with Hanjin, it may be possible for Daewoo / Dae Sun to tap Hanjin's Subic Shipyard for local production as it would be more palatable to DND officials due to its ability to convert the project as a local investment. 

Daewoo / Dae Sun have previously offered the Makassar-class LPD for the PN's MRV project, before it was put on hold in favor of the smaller SSV. They may offer a derivative of the Makassar-class for the SSV. Photo taken from Timawa.net forums c/o Adroth.

Keppel Philippines Marine Inc. is the local subsidiary of Singapore conglomerate Keppel Corporation. It has shipyards in Batangas and in Subic, and has been involved in several projects of the Philippine Navy in the past, including the refitting and refurbishment of the PN's 2 Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates before their commissioning. Due to some tie-ups with Singapore's ST Engineering Ltd., there is a possibility that Keppel Philippines will be using ST Engineering's designs including the Endurance 120 series which was reported previously in MaxDefense to have been offered separately by ST Engineering. Having a local shipyard that can do the work is also an added advantage for KPMI.

Keppel Philippines may probably cooperate with ST Engineering to use the Endurance 120 series design for the SSV. Photo taken from ST Engineering website.

Larsen & Toubro Ltd. is one of India's largest conglomerates, and its subsidiary L&T Shipbuilding has been actively involved in India's naval shipbuilding industry. It's latest involvement is in the construction of India's first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant, which it was the prime integrator. It also prides of having the largest naval shipyard in India. Their representatives were spotted in Cavite Naval Base early this year and are speculated to be involved in other projects of the Philippine Navy. 

L&T Shipbuilding is recently involved in the construction of India's first indigenous nuclear powered submarine, the INS Arihant. But no indication that they were able to build an SSV or similar platform before.

The Philippines' PROPMECH Corporation is one of the active marine suppliers of the Philippine Navy in recent years, being involved in upgrading several of the PN's patrol boats, and have been successful in delivering the 1st (supply) and 2nd batches (supply and build) of Multipurpose Attack Craft (MPAC) and the largest locally made PN ship, the BRP Tagbanua (AT-296). In building AT-296, PROPMECH got the services of Philippine Iron Construction and Marine Works, so it is expected that they will carry out the same arrangement. 

PROPMECH has previously delivered the PN"s newest LCU the BRP Tagbanua (AT-296).

PT Citra Shipyard is an Indonesian company, with their shipyard just opposite Singapore in Batam Island. MaxDefense doesn't have much on the shipbuilding experience of this company, but their website indicate that they have built numerous commercial barges. MaxDefense will try to find out more about this company, stay tuned on this blog's commentary section.

PT Citra's website indicate that they are specialized in building commercial barges, like this one. Photo taken from PT Citra's website.

PT PAL is Indonesia's largest naval shipbuilder, and has extensive experience in building amphibious transport vessels for the Indonesian Navy. They are the recipient of the technology transfer deal from South Korea's Dae Sun Shipbuilding to locally build some of Indonesian Navy's Makassar-class Landing Platform Docks (LPD). PT PAL has already offered the PN their own LPD design derived from the Makassar-class, and has also previously offered their proposal for the SSV. So far they are the only entity that we have some familiarity on their SSV proposal.

PT PAL previously offered the DND and PN it's SSV proposal. MaxDefense believes that the PN based the specifications for its SSV on PT PAL's offer.

Stone of David, if MaxDefense is not mistaken, is actually a tactical equipment supplier, and is an active bidder for individual weapons & personal protection systems (please correct us if we are wrong on this). Due to its inexperience in shipbuilding and marine industry, it may be possible that they will have either a joint venture or sub-contractor to do the ships on their behalf. So far MaxDefense is unaware of who their appointed shipbuilder will be so we cannot assess what it can do.

Is MaxDefense correct? We believe the Stone of David company that is interested in the SSV project is the same Stone of David that supplies handguns and personal protection gear. Photo taken from Stone of David's FB page.

South Korea's STX Offshore & Shipbuilding is the world's 4th largest shipbuilding company, and has extensive experience in building large commercial vessels (supertankers, etc) and they also have designs that will suit naval requirements. STX through its European subsidiaries, has been involved in building the French Navy's Mistral-class amphibious assault ships. No doubt that they can carry out the PN's SSV project. Like Dae Sun and Daewoo, it might be possible for STX to have shipbuilding agreements with Hanjin Subic Shipyard to build the ships in the Philippines if necessary to make their offer more acceptable.

As the world's 4th largest shipbuilder, STX Offshore & Marine, through its European subsidiaries, was also greatly involved in the construction of France' Mistral-class amphibious assault ships.

Surprisingly, there were a number of expected bidders that did not bought the bid documents. These are Spain's Navantia which previously offered the Athlas 8000 to the PN for its MRV project. Another is Australia's Austal, which has a shipyard in Cebu that can be used as an offset for the project. European companies are also absent, which may have found the budget for the SSV as unattractive for profit. American shipbuilders are also absent, like the Singaporean-owned VT Halter Marine which built the PN's Bacolod City-class LSVs.
Navantia did not purchased the bid documents, but they still have time to do so. They have been offering the Athlas 8000 to the PN for some time now. Photo taken from Navantia's website.

As the submission of bids is still scheduled on August 29, 2013, there is possibility that other entities may be interested in procuring the bid documents and submitting a bid besides the 9 that bought earlier. MaxDefense will be closely monitoring any updates regarding the bidding of this project, as this is a major procurement item that would increase the capability of the PN.

Of the 9 prospective bidders, MaxDefense believes that there will be several entities that would not submit the bid, so we expect less than 9 bid submissions on the deadline. The schedule of the SSV project has already been delayed by 1 1/2 months so it is hoped that this won't be a failed bid.


17 August 2013:

As posted on the recent blog entry from MaxDefense Philippines, titled "PN's Strategic Sealift Vessel and its relation to the sinking of MV St. Thomas Aquinas".

The recent accident involving the passenger ferry MV St. Thomas Aquainas and the cargo ship Sulpicio Express Siete off Cebu City is a very unfortunate event, with still hundreds reported missing besides the dozens of confirmed deaths. According to news reports, the 2 ships collided just near the Cebu port, with the cargo ship's bow hitting the passenger ship on its side, sinking the ferry in just less than 30 minutes (some latest reports put the time as early as 10 minutes) More details about the accident could be found in local and foreign news, and won't be elaborated much in this blog.

The ill-fated passenger ferry MV St. Thomas Aquinas. The ship is probably even larger than the PN's specified Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV). Photo taken from Shipspotting.com c/o Bermejo Imaging.

The cargo ship Sulpicio Express Siete, with its bow damaged. Photo taken from Reuters.

So what is the relation between the MV St. Thomas Aquinas ferry tragedy with defense issues that are usually highlighted in MaxDefense blogs?

The Philippine Navy's current transport ship project, the Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV), as well as the currently on-hold Multi-role Vessel (MRV) project, as well as the passenger ferry MV St. Thomas Aquinas are all designed and built/to be built using commercial shipbuilding standards.

The damaged bow of the cargo ship Sulpicio Express Siete. Photo taken from Associated Press.

The SSV will probably be built according to commercial standards due to the need to drive down costs and fit the allocated budget. The current SSV project budget is Php 2 billion per ship, and will probably cost even less depending on the winning bidder. As compared to similar-sized LPDs, which cost thrice or more to build such using naval shipbuilding standards, which are constructed to ensure high survivability in combat and ability for the ship's structure to survive impacts and attacks. It is worth mentioning that the original SSV project actually involves the purchase of a used Japanese Ro-Ro ferry very similar to the ill-fated MV St. Thomas Aquinas (as discussed here).

The initial Strategic Sealift Vessel project was actually based on a Japanese passenger Ro-Ro ferry very similar to the ill-fated MV St. Thomas Aquinas. Photo taken from MarineTraffic.com.

As an example: the Indonesian Navy's Makassar-class LPD and Royal New Zealand Navy's HMNZS Canterbury (L421) are all based from commercial car ferry designs, and it is highly probably that the SSV will also be based on such platform. Daewoo International / DaeSun Shipbuilding of South Korea and PT PAL of Indonesia, both builders of the Makassar-class LPD, are both vying to win the contract for the PN's SSV project (and probably the MRV project should it proceed in the future) using a derivative of the Makassar-class LPD. 

PT PAL's SSV proposal for the Philippine Navy is actually a derivative of the car ferry-based Makassar-class LPD.

As a military transport, the SSV is projected  to be used to transport the Philippine Marine Corps' expeditionary forces in combat conditions, and is expected to be targeted by opposing forces. It is expected that the ship would have a far greater threat parameters than a standard merchant vessel. But the SSV, like any normal sea vessel, must also survive accident impacts unlike what happened to MV St. Thomas Aquinas, which just plunged to the bottom of the Cebu Strait immediately after impact. It must be capable of surviving even after serious flooding of several compartments, enough for it to still move away from danger and keep its passengers and crew safe. 

Indonesian Marinir (Marines) troops and tanks for transport using the TNI-AL's Makassar-class LPD. The Philippine Marine Corps will use the SSV in the same manner, including in combat conditions when necessary.

The Philippine Navy's SSV project planners must give importance to the survivability aspects of the SSV regardless of cost implications. Sinking in just 10 to 30 minutes after impact could mean that the ship design may not have incorporated the provision of multiple compartment design to effectively control flooding, plus possibly the lack of or inefficiency of crew to control flooding on the hull. The PN must be aware of what happened to the MV St. Thomas Aquinas and ensure that faults on the ship will be remedied and addressed the SSV design or any future naval ships in its fleet.


28 August 2013:

As posted on MaxDefense Philippines' latest blog article "A clearer picture on the Strategic Sealift Vessel of the Philippine Navy".

The absence of enough information regarding the Philippine Navy's Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) has left the public blind on what we can expect on the ship's capabilities, features and aesthetics. But the recently released Supplemental Bid Bulletin (SBB) # 4 by the Department of National Defense (DND) has brought in enough relevant information on the project, as well as some hints of future procurement plans of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), to the point that we can now somehow see a clearer picture of what the SSV really is.

The SSV is said to be smaller than the earlier MRV requirement, which was supposed to be awarded to a Korean manufacturer before based on the Makassar-class LPD.

Based on the Supplemental Bid Bulletin # 4 for the SSV project, here are the basic information of the ship's specification based on MaxDefense' interpretation (a copy of the SBB can obtained here: 

Type: Landing Platform Dock (LPD)
Displacement: approximately 7,300 tons full load, subject to shipbuilder's design
Length: 120 meters minimum, subject to shipbuilder's design
Beam: 21 meters minimum, subject to shipbuilder's design
Propulsion: at least 2 Diesel engines coupled to 2 controllable pitch propellers, subject to shipbuilder's proposal
Speed: at least 13 knots cruising, at least 16 knots maximum
Range: 7,500nmi @ 13 knots
Crew: between 100 to 130 officers and men

Boats Carried: 2 Landing Craft Mechanized/Utility at floodable well decks, 2 RHIB or LCVP on Boat Davits
Passengers: at least 500 troops
Decks: Tank (? sqm minimum) and Truck Deck (800 sqm minimum)
Payload: 2,800 tons minimum

Sensors: Navigation, Surface Search Radar, Air Search Radar, EW Suite, Electro-Optical Fire Control System (all separate items to be supplied by PN), Combat Management System

Weapons: Primary: 1 x gun (possibly between 40mm to 127mm), Secondary: 2 x 30mm automated cannons port and starboard sides (EO FCS controlled), ? x machine guns (all separate items to be supplied by PN)

Aircraft Accommodation  Helideck capacity for 2 x 10-ton helicopters (based on Sikorsky Black Hawk), Enclosed Hangar for 1 x 10-ton helicopter (also based on Black Hawk)

Surprisingly, the SSV's basic requirements are similar to the dimensions of PT PAL's SSV offer. This has been posted before in earlier MaxDefense blogs about this project.

Besides the basic information of the ship, there are also more information that MaxDefense finds interesting to discuss with, and here are the following points:

1. Presence of floodable wells and helicopter deck with hangar.
These features, plus the general information of the ship's details listed above, confirms that the SSV is indeed a Landing Platform Dock (LPD), a small one though as compared to typical Western designs. Larsen and Toubro's query even included a clarification on the ship's type being labelled as an SSV when in fact the ship is an LPD. The dimensions indicate that it has similar dimensions as the Indonesian Navy's Makassar-class LPD, and surprisingly has almost the same details as the SSV offer made by PT PAL. But unlike the Makassar-class, the SSV will be smaller, lighter and may be simpler to reduce costs.

Floodable wells, like this one, are present on the SSV. An indication that it is not just an ordinary ROPAX vessel as some believe. Photo taken from Australian Ministry of Defense website.

2. Use of Mild Steel per ASTM A131 for the hull.
A query by Stone of David highlighted this and request considering the use of a more sturdier material for the hull, although the PN insisted on mild steel. Actually mild steel can be considered an excellent ship hull material due to its high strength, sufficient ductility and low cost. It retains some strength after yielding and before failure, which is a good characteristic for ship hulls. It is also lighter, giving the ship a better power to weight ratio for efficiency, while retaining the required strength as compared to other steel hull materials.

3. Inclusion of 2 Landing Crafts Mechanized/Utility (LCM/LCU) and 2 Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) per ship.
The SSV program already included the provision of 2 steel-hulled LCU or LCM as well as 2 RHIBs that will be delivered together with each ship. This was unexpected although it is a welcome addition since it was assumed earlier that these boats will be bid-out separately and will require a different budget and program. Although this would also mean that the cost for these boats will be deducted from the budget allocated for the SSVs.

2 units of LCU or LCM, similar to those shown above, are included in each ship's cost and will be carried by the SSV. They must have a 25-ton load capacity and are steel-hulled. Photo taken from US Navy website.

4. Boat davit capacity of 15 tons while RHIB at full capacity is only around 4 tons.
Several bidders like Stone of David, Larsen and Toubro, and Propmech highlighted the issue of having a boat davit with load capacity of 15 tons that will be holding the RHIB, probably because they believe this an over-design that relates to higher costs. Although the PN intends to place RHIBs on these davits, it is expected that the PN may also opt to fit the heavier LCVP in its place when necessary. Actually Stone of David's query already indicated the possibility of using the davits for LCVPs. The LCVP usually has an empty weight of around 9 to 9.5 tons and will require a higher capacity davit, on this case the PN insisted on a 15-ton capacity davit. 

MaxDefense believes that the PN would also embark LCVP on davits, like shown above mounted onboard HMS Ocean (L12), thus the requirement for 15-ton capacity. Photo taken from thamesvessels.blogspot.com.

5. Payload capacity of deck turntables at 25 tons.
The turntable is required to be able to handle a 25-ton payload of around 7 meters long, which are probably armored vehicles from either the Philippine Marines (PMC) or Philippine Army (PA). Except for the PMC's few LVTH-6, the heaviest armored vehicles in both the PA (ACV-300) and PMC (V-300) only weigh around 14 tons. MaxDefense does not expect the incoming AAVs to use the turntables so it means that the SSV is built to accommodate larger and heavier armored vehicles should the PA or PMC acquire them in the future.

A vehicle turntable similar but not exactly the same as above, with a diameter of 7 meters and load capacity of 25 tons, will be available at the truck deck for easy maneuver of vehicles on the tight space. Photo taken from Haynes-World blog.

6. Helicopter landing deck and hangar capacity requirement.
There is a requirement for the ship to have a helicopter landing deck for 2 helicopters, and a hangar capacity for 1 helicopter. The replies provided by the DND/PN indicated that the helicopters are 10-ton types, with a specific mention of Sikorsky's Black Hawk helicopter. Although the Philippine Air Force (PAF) currently has a single S-70A Black Hawk in its fleet (Presidential Wing asset), it is expected that the ship will accommodate navalized PN helicopters more than standard PAF ones. MaxDefense believes that the PN may have plans to purchase Black Hawks in the future as part of its Desired Force Mix multi-purpose helicopter requirement, and the PAF may also do the same.

The SSV takes the Black Hawk into consideration in its design, giving the helicopter a place in the PN's future. Photo taken from US Navy website.

7. Replenishment as Sea (RAS) capable.
The SSV will be RAS capable, with both port and starboard sides having RAS stations for easy replenishment. The PN's Gregorio del Pilar-class frigates are capable of RAS, but this capability is currently not available with the PN, although there are some indications that the PN is trying to acquire such capability, possibly by taking replenishment from allied naval vessels in the absence of PN replenishment vessels. There is also a possibility of the PN acquiring replenishment vessels in the future, as indicated in its Desired Force Mix white paper.

A replenishment at sea (RAS) / underway replenishment (UNREP) capability is being sought for the SSV, similar to shown above. Photo from globalsecurity.org.

8. Weapons and sensors systems costs are separate from the ship's budget.
The SSB mentioned that the weapons and sensors systems will be "owner supplied", meaning it will be provided by the PN separately. This removes the cost of these systems from the SSV's budget, and good thing considering that these systems may cost as much as the budget allocated by the DND. With these separated, shipbuilders would now have more room to provide a better offer, and is beneficial to both the bidder and the end user. 

9. Types of weapons and sensors for the ship.
Sensor types mentioned in the SSB include a surveillance radar, an air search radar, electro-optical fire control system for the secondary guns, a Combat Management System, and an Electronic Warfare (EW) suite. The presence of an option to place an air search radar feature will enable the ship to detect and track airborne threats like aircraft and cruise missiles. The PN may employ similar radar systems that they intend to install on other future PN combat vessels like the new frigate. The EW suite is an added feature that would be beneficial as it gives an added defensive feature for the ship from OPFOR attacks. As for the weapons, the SBB mentioned the presence of 2 units 30mm guns, both remotely operated with electro-optical fire control system (EO-FCS). Although not mentioned, it may be safe to assume the presence of a larger primary weapon, probably a gun system with a higher caliber the secondary guns, somewhere between 40mm to 127mm. Also like other PN vessels, it is expected to have manually-operated 12.7mm machine guns for self-defense against small boats and minor threats. No mention was made regarding missile systems or anti-missile CIWS though.

A 3D search radar, like the Thales Smart-S shown above, is not impossible to be mounted on the SSV. Photo taken from Thales Nederland website. 

Two secondary guns, similar to the Mk.38 Mod.2 shown above but with a 30mm gun, is eyed for each SSV. These would be remotely controlled, and linked to an electro-optical fire control system. Photo taken from Wikimedia.

10. The SSV are configured as possible flagships.
The SBB confirms the earlier press releases that the SSV will also serve as flagships and mobile government centers aside from being amphibious transport vessels. The supplemental bulletin acknowledge the presence of a Presidential Room as well as a War Room, which are instrumental for government functions including the presence of the President of the Philippines in cases of emergencies and needs that require him and other key government officials to be on the ship.

Besides the above-mentioned details, some other information on the ship includes:
- the ships are designed to accommodate future AAVs (probably based on the AAV-7A1)
- availability of water desalination system capable of producing 25,000 liters per day;
- provision for bow thrusters, possibly for installation in the future;
- LCU / LCM will be steel-hulled, empty weight of 70 tons, load capacity of 18 tons or 80 troops, armed with 2 x 50 caliber machine guns;
- SSV delivery will be on Manila's South Harbor Pier 13

The scheduled submission and opening of bids is on August 29, 2013, although there is still a possibility of moving it to a latter date similar to what happened to other DND projects. Until then, let us see who among the potential bidders could step forward and offer their services to the DND.


29 August 2013:

Of the 9 potential contenders for the SSV project, only 2 submitted their bids: PT PAL Indonesia (builder of Banjarsamin-class) and Daewoo-Daesun of South Korea (builder of Makassar-class). But after further examination, the DND only qualified the bid of PT PAL, while Daewoo-Daesun was disqualified. It is still a hanging project as PT PAL needs to pass the post bid qualifications, which may start soon.

More of the news here and here.


03 February 2014:

The Philippine Navy has already provided the Notice of Award (NOA) for the SSV project to Indonesia's PT PAL after passing the post-bid qualifications and inspections. PT PAL itself confirmed receiving the NOA late last month, and is expecting the signing of contract to follow soon following these developments.

More here.


14 February 2014:

As posted on MaxDefense Philippines' blog entry titled "Strategic Sealift Vessel of the Philippine Navy Awarded to PT PAL".

The Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine Navy (PN) has selected Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL (Persero) to build 2 Landing Platform Docks (also known as the Strategic Sealift Vessels or SSV). PT PAL's executives confirmed that they already received the Notice of Award as of 1st week of January, and MaxDefense sources also confirmed that the NOA was indeed given as early as after the New Year holidays.

The Indonesian Navy's Banjarmasin-class LPD from PT PAL, which has slight differences from the original Makassar-class made by Daesun Shipbuilding.

It was also known and confirmed recently that a contract was already signed between PT PAL and the DND/PN as of the end of January 2014, thus finalizing the start of construction of the 2 ships for the PN. It is expected that the first ship will be delivered to the PN within 2 years, or by around February 2016, with the second ship delivered by around February 2017. 

PT PAL and Philippine Navy officials during the contract signing at Philippine Navy Headquarters. Photo taken from PT PAL website and Indo Defense blog.

For those who are unaware of the project, the Indonesian shipbuilder was the lone eligible bidder out of 2 entities that joined the tender last August 2013, the other being Daewoo/Daesun Shipbuilding from South Korea, whose bid was declared ineligible. PT PAL's bid for the project was Php 3,863,999,520, a little lower than the Php 4 billion ABC for the project. PT PAL will be using a derivative of their Banjarmasin-class LPD, which itself was derived from the Makassar-class LPD made by Daewoo/Daesun Shipbuilding for the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL).

Upon winning the tender, PT PAL underwent a post-bid qualification, which include site inspections and checking the declared capability of the shipbuilder. As expected, PT PAL passed the requirements due to its previous experience in building similar vessels, and its growing capability to construct more complex naval vessels, which includes the local construction of sections and completing the Indonesian Navy's PKR (Perusak Kawal Rudal) frigate based on the Dutch SIGMA 10514 design.

Construction of Banjarmasin-class LPD at PT PAL shipbuilding yard in Indonesia.

The specifications of the LPD (SSV) was discussed in previous MaxDefense blogs, which can be found on the link HERE. From now on, MaxDefense updates on this project would probably be regarding the construction phase of both ships, and on the separate systems which include weapons and sensors system.


18 July 2014:

PT PAL confirmed that they have signed the contract last June to build 2 SSVs for the Philippine Navy for $92 million. This amount includes the integrated logistics support (ILS) for the ships. It was reported earlier in local media sources that the ships will not include weapons and sophisticated sensors systems aside from the commercial-spec'd navigational radar.


22 January 2015:

The steel cutting ceremony was held for the first Strategic Sealift Vessel of the Philippine Navy at PT PAL's facility in Surabaya, Indonesia. Temporarily named "SSV-1", the first of the class appears to still be unnamed as of this writing. Philippine Navy FOIC VAdm. Jesus C. Millan was present during the ceremonies. Reports coming from Indonesian media places the length of the ship at 123 meters, and a width of 21.8 meters, has a crew of 121 men and can accommodate 500 troops. It is also said to use steel materials supplied by Indonesian company PT Krakatau Steel.

Although unconfirmed, this might be the closest scale model of the Philippine Navy's SSV. It shows helicopter landing space for 2 helicopters, and a main gun that looks like an Oto Melara 76mm SR. Photo taken from kontan.co.id.

Below are photos from the said event: 

Officials from the DND, PN, Indonesian Government, Indonesian Navy, and PT PAL with the signed plate in the shape of the PN's SSV. Both photos taken from suarasurabaya.net


06 June 2015:

A construction milestone has been reached for both Strategic Sealift Vessels by PT PAL on June 5, 2015. 

For the SSV-1, PT PAL declared that it has entered the keel laying stage of the work, which accounts to around 25% of the work, while they also announced that at least 80% of all imported parts are already delivered to their facility. PT PAL expects to launch the ship by November 2015, and reach its deadline to deliver the ship to the Philippine Navy by May 2015. 

For the SSV-2, a 1st steel cutting ceremony was also made, in a similar fashion as that of the first ship.

Below are the photos taken during the ceremonies, taken from Tribun Images of Indonesia:

Photos during the 1st Steel Cutting ceremonies for SSV-2, with RAdm. Cesar Taccad representing the Philippine Navy. Photos taken from Tribunnews.com.

PT PAL, Indonesian government and Philippine Navy officials view the keel laying works on the first ship of the class, temporarily named SSV-1 last June 5, 2015. Photos taken from Tribunnews.com.


28 November 2015:

Indonesian shipbuilder PT PAL released a photo of the Philippine Navy's Strategic Sealift Vessel, temporarily named SSV-1, as of 27 November 2015. The ship is almost structurally complete, with the main mast block being installed as shown.


15 January 2016:

The Philippine Navy's first Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) as taken a few days ago with a layer of paint while at PT PAL's shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia. It is expected to be launched together with Indonesia's new SIGMA frigate on January 18, 2016. Upon launching, SSV-2's lay-down will also commence on the same day. 

Photo posted by Alberth Minas at the Forum Sejarah and Militer FB page.


19 January 2016:

According to Philippine News Agency's report, the 1st SSV is now confirmed as BRP Tarlac (LD-601), while the 2nd SSV is now LD-602. Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin and Philippine Navy FOIC Vice Adm. Ceasar Taccad were in Indonesia to grace the launching of the ship. Posting the entire PNA article for reference.

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Ranking PHL defense, military officials present in SSV launching ceremonies

MANILA, Jan. 18 (PNA) -- Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Caesar Taccad graced the launching ceremonies of the country's first strategic sealift vessel (SSV) Sunday.

The event was held at the PT PAL (Persero) shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia.

PN public affairs office chief Cmdr. Lued Lincuna said the SSV, which was designated "Landing Dock (LD)-601" was unveiled by Jocelyn Taccad, wife of the Navy chief.

LD-601 is expected to be delivered in May.

Likewise, the ceremony marked the keel-laying or the formal start of construction of the second SSV (LD-602) which is expected to be completed by 2017.

The SSV project was initiated upon the approval of acquisition decision memorandum Number 2012-060 by the Secretary of National Defense last October 30, 2013.

It is a two-unit SSV procurement project with an approved budget contract of PHP4 billion sourced from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund.

The Department of National Defense declared PT PAL (Persero) as the single calculated responsive bidder with a bidding price of PHP3.8 billion on November 18, 2014.

The SSVs are programmed to be the PN’s floating command-and-control ships especially in the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions and serving other purposes as military sealift and transport vessels.

These vessels are also critical assets for civil-military operations due to their capability of transporting large number of soldiers, logistics, and supplies.

Moreover, each SSV has the capacity to house three helicopters. The Navy’s Augusta Westland-109s are programmed to be on-board components of these vessels. (PNA)



10 April 2016:

Indonesian media Antara News reported that the second Tarlac-class Strategic Sealift Vessel / Landing Platform Dock (SSV / LPD) is expected to be launched in September this year. It is scheduled for delivery to the Philippines in 2017. Meanwhile, earlier reports also confirmed that PT PAL has official declared the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) as 100% complete and is being readied for delivery to the Philippine Navy by May 2016.


30 May 2016

As posted on MaxDefense Philippines' blog entry "Discussing the Philippine Navy's First SSV, the Tarlac-class Landing Platform Dock".

Finally, after years of waiting, the first Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) of the Philippine Navy is finally close to being commissioned and considered finally as the country's own. Officially known as the Tarlac-class landing platform dock (LPD), the first ship of the class is already in the Philippines. BRP Tarlac (LD-601) has been accorded with formal arrival honours at Manila's South Harbour on May 16, 2016 and was presented to the media for the Filipino people to be proud of.

BRP Tarlac (LD-601), the Philippine Navy's first Landing Platform Dock, photographed on a Philippine Navy helicopter as she was underway to Manila from a delivery trip from Surabaya, Indonesia. Photo taken from the Philippine Navy PIO, cropped to focus more on the ship.

The ship departed PT PAL's shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia on May 9, 2016 . Some news reports from Indonesia confirmed that BRP Tarlac was escorted to the Philippine border with Indonesia near Tawi-Tawi by an Indonesian Navy warship, and escort was handed over to a Philippine Navy ship to continue its voyage to Manila Bay.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, the ship's pioneer commanding officer Capt. Francis Alexander Jose confirmed that the ship did pass all technical specification requirements, including the sea trial before reaching Manila. He also mentioned in a separate interview that vibrations was low or in the acceptable level during maximum speed. So that somehow clears the main concern that everyone may be asking about workmanship quality and meeting requirements.

MaxDefense also received information from several of its sources that the ship performed well during its tests days before the final departure from PT PAL's shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia, as well as during the almost a week trip to Manila, Philippines. It was also said to have comfortably travelled within its cruising speed of 13 knots to its maximum speed of 16 knots at long duration of time, and even reached 18 knots when needed. This could confirm that the ship can go beyond its designed speed, but considering the ship is light due to absence of heavy cargo, MaxDefense expects that there was allowances made so the ship can still reach 16 knots maximum even at maximum displacement.

Until there are official reports coming out from the Philippine Navy, we can only assume that everything is under control and can be settled as stipulated in the contract between PT PAL and PN.

Aside from the ship itself, PT PAL delivered 2 small Landing Crafts - Utility (LCU) tied in the well deck, and 2 Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB) on davits.

BRP Tarlac's small LCU (or LCM) as shown before delivery to PT PAL. Photo taken from Pakistan Defence Forum.

Future Plans: More SSV

The Philippine Navy announced during the BRP Tarlac's arrival ceremonies 2 weeks ago that the armed service is looking at acquiring 3 more SSV on top of the two ordered from PT PAL. This is different from previous plans of the Philippine Navy.

Originally, the Desired Force Mix (DFM) released by the Philippine Navy in 2012 included plans to acquire at least 4 landing platform docks, although between 2013 to 2015, the plans were adjusted to just two LPDs (Tarlac-class), and a single Landing Helicopter Assault (LHA) ship. Currently, the plan now stands for 5 SSVs using LPD design, with the next 3 ships planned to be acquired within the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

MaxDefense was informed by its sources that future LPD designs after the Tarlac-class would probably have the same design features but will definitely be larger, to provide more capacity for cargo, spaces for vehicles, and probably operate more helicopters simultaneously.

An option to build the next LPDs in the Philippines are among the planned programs of the Philippine Navy, probably in cooperation with PT PAL, although PT PAL has not yet announced who their local shipyard partner is for maintenance and possible technology transfer recipient. 

The Philippine Navy, according to MaxDefense sources, is looking at flat-deck amphibious assault ship designs, like those of the Korean Dokdo-class, for a possible future acquisition. But recent changes in the Philippine Navy's "wish list" is still unclear if such plans will still be pursued within the AFP Modernization Program's Horizon 1 to 3 phases up to 2028. Photo taken from Military-Today.com.

BRP Tarlac, together with BRP 601-1 and BRP 601-2, are scheduled to be commissioned to the Philippine Navy on June 1, 2016, together with 3 former Royal Australian Navy Balikpapan-class Landing Craft Heavy (LCH), locally known as Ivatan-class, whose PN names and hull numbers are still unknown as of this writing.

Meanwhile, SSV-2, expected to be LD-602, is still under construction, PT PAL previously announced that the ship will be launched by 4th quarter of 2016, and delivered to the Philippines by May 2017.


02 June 2016:
With the BRP Tarlac (LD-601) commissioned with the Philippine Navy, the service finally has a modern amphibious assault vessel in its fleet.

The video below from Inquirer.net / Philippine Daily Inquirer was taken during the commissioning day of BRP Tarlac.


09 August 2016:

For those in doubt that the Tarlac-class landing platform docks will ever have its own defensive weapons and combat systems. The Philippine Navy already hadd plans on what to acquire for the ships as evident on the specifications provided to the bidders, but was further refined later on. 

Photo below came from the Philippine Navy.


19 August 2016:

The Philippine Navy's second Tarlac-class landing platform dock, temporarily named "SSV-2", was declared more than 60% complete a few days ago. Below are photos taken by Gombaljaya, showing the form of the ship's substructure nearing completion. The superstructure will be added later on. More work will be done internally as well. The ship is expected to be delivered in 2017, while the PN plans to acquire 3 more SSVs as part of their Capability Upgrade Program under the AFP Modernization's Horizon 2 phase.

Posting the article from PNA in its wholeness for reference.

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PN: Second SSV more than 60% complete

MANILA, Aug. 17 (PNA) --- The Philippine Navy (PN)'s second strategic sealift vessel (SSV) is more than 60 percent complete.

"Second SSV completion is more than 60 percent . Ten PN crew are supervising (the works)," PN spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said in a message to the PNA Wednesday.

Steel-cutting for the second SSV formally took place on June 6, 2015 at PT PAL (Persero)'s Surabaya shipyard.

The second SSV is scheduled for delivery in May 2017.

The country's first SSV, the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), was delivered to the PN last May 14, and commissioned on June 1.

The Philippines has a two SSV order with the Indonesian shipbuilder worth PHP3.8 billion.

BRP Tarlac was assigned to the Philippine Fleet's Sealift Amphibious Force.

The SSV has an overall length of 120 meters, breadth of 21 meters, draft of five meters and carry a payload of 2,800 tons.

She has a cruising speed of 13 knots and maximum speed of 16 knots and a minimum operating range of 7,500 nautical miles.

Her sister-ship is expected to be delivered by May 2017. The ship has a complement of 121 officers and enlisted personnel.

She can carry 500 troops, two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two landing craft units and three helicopters. (PNA)



23 September 2016:

Gombaljaya of the Timawa forums posted photos of the Strategic Sealift Vessel 2 in an almost complete stage. As shown on one of the photos, SSV2 will be known as BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) and will be launched on September 26, 2016. More updates later on. Credits to Gombaljaya.


30 September 2016:

PT PAL (Persero) formally launched the second Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) of the Philippine Navy yesterday, Sept. 29, 2016. The ship, named BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602), is the second Tarlac-class landing platform dock of the PN, and is scheduled to be delivered by 1st or 2nd quarter of 2017. Also launched at the ceremony is the second Martandinata-class frigate of the Indonesian Nay.

Posting the entire PNA article for easy reference. Photo credits to Gombaljaya.

# # # # # #

PN's second SSV christened BRP Davao Del Sur Thursday
By: Priam Fernandez Nepomuceno

MANILA, Sept. 29 (PNA) --- The Philippine Navy (PN)'s second strategic sealift vessel (SSV) was formally launched and christened the BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-601) at the Surabaya shipyard of Indonesian contractor PT PAL (Persero) Thursday morning.

She is the sister ship of the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), currently the largest Filipino warship commissioned.

BRP Tarlac was commissioned during short ceremonies at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor last June 1.

She arrived in the Philippines last May 14 after a five-day journey from PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya which started on May 9.

PN spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna said Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia, Maria Lumen Isleta, served as the lady sponsor who led the opening of the curtain to unveil the vessel’s name and the traditional smashing of a sacrificial bottle of champagne over its bow.

Naming the vessel after Davao Del Sur is consistent with its predecessor, BRP Tarlac (LD-601), which was also named after a province.

It further gives recognition to the province as sanctuary of natural wonders and rarities like the country’s highest peak Mount Apo, the most prized Philippine orchid Vanda Sanderiana, and the endangered Philippine Eagle.

Witnesses to the launching and christening ceremonies were Defense undersecretaries Ricardo David Jr. and Raymundo Elefante; Armed Forces of the Philippines vice chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Gregorio Miranda; and PN vice commander Rear Adm. Rafael Mariano.

On the other hand, distinguished members of Indonesian delegation included the Ministry of Defense General Secretary, Vice Adm. Widodo; Deputy of Ministry of State Own Enterprises, Fajar Harry Sampurno; and PT Pal’s Director of Shipbuilding Turitan Indaryo.

BRP Davao Del Sur is also a Makassar-class landing platform dock like her sister ship BRP Tarlac.

Its delivery to the Philippines, tentatively scheduled on the midpart of 2017, will complete the two-unit SSV procurement project with an approved budget contract of PHP4 billion sourced from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund.

Just like the BRP Tarlac, the PN's latest SSV will serve as a floating command-and-control ship especially in the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster response and will also serve as a military sealift and transport vessel.

The ship has an overall length of 120 meters, breadth of 21 meters, draft of five meters and carry a payload of 2,800 tons.

She has a cruising speed of 13 knots and maximum speed of 16 knots and a minimum operating range of 7,500 nautical miles.

BRP Davao Del Sur can carry 500 troops, two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two landing craft units and three helicopters. (PNA)



10 March 2017:

The Philippine Navy's upcoming new Landing Platform Dock, the BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) is seen here during sea trials in Indonesia yesterday. The ship is expected to be delivered soon by the shipbuilder, PT PAL (Persero). Photo credited to and shared by Agus Utomo.


18 April 2017:

he Philippine Navy confirmed that the construction of the new landing platform dock (LPD), the BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) is now 100% complete and will undergo pre-delivery inspection by a PN team. Once the ship is cleared of rectification works, the ship will be tested further and delivered to the PN, which is scheduled by May 2017.

Posting the entire article from PNA for easy reference. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.

# # # # # #

PHL's second SSV now completed, awaiting inspection before voyage home

MANILA, April 18 (PNA) -- Construction of the country's second strategic sealift vessel (SSV), the BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602), is now officially completed, the Philippine Navy (PN) announced on Tuesday.

With this development, the ship is now awaiting for the PN's pre-delivery inspection (PDI) team which will check the vessel for possible defect, said Navy spokesperson Capt. Lued Lincuna in a message to the Philippine News Agency.

"SSV 2 is now completed. PDI team for BRP Davao Del Sur is now enroute for Indonesia today (April 18)," he added.

Lincuna said BRP Davao Del Sur is scheduled to sail for the country by first week of May and her arrival is expected on the second week of the same month.

The BRP Davao Del Sur was launched last Sept. 29. She is the sister ship of the BRP Tarlac (LD-601), currently the largest Filipino warship in commissioned.

BRP Tarlac was commissioned during short ceremonies at Pier 13, Manila South Harbor last June 1.

She arrived in the Philippines last May 14 after a five-day journey from PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya which started on May 9.

BRP Davao Del Sur is also a Makassar-class landing platform dock like her sister ship BRP Tarlac.

Its delivery to the Philippines, tentatively scheduled this coming May, will complete the two-unit SSV procurement project with an approved budget contract of PHP4 billion sourced from the AFP Modernization Act Trust Fund.

Just like the BRP Tarlac, the PN's latest SSV will serve as a floating command-and-control ship especially in the conduct of humanitarian assistance and disaster response and will also serve as a military sealift and transport vessel.

The ship has an overall length of 120 meters, breadth of 21 meters, draft of five meters, and can carry a payload of 2,800 tons.

She has a cruising speed of 13 knots and maximum speed of 16 knots and a minimum operating range of 7,500 nautical miles.

BRP Davao Del Sur can carry 500 troops, two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two landing craft units and three helicopters. (PNA)


Photo of the future BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) during its launching. Photo taken from Wikimedia Commons.


02 May 2017:

Happened today: send-off ceremony for BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602), the Philippine Navy's second Tarlac-class landing platform dock, as it prepares to head-off for its delivery to the Philippines from PT PAL's facility in Surabaya, Indonesia. Photo credits to Agus Utomo.


10 May 2017:

The welcoming ceremonies for BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602), which arrived from Surabaya last Monday, will be held today in Manila. 

Let me clarify that this is not the commissioning ceremonies, which will be held at a later date once the PN clears the ship of any production and quality issues, and has accepted the test results of the ship's performance.


31 May 2017:

The BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) has been formally commissioned to the Philippine Navy, as the second Tarlac-class landing platform dock in the fleet.


With the ships already delivered and formally commissioned with the Sealift and Amphibious  Force, Philippine Fleet, MaxDefense officially consider the Strategic Sealift Vessel Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy as COMPLETED.


x x x x x x x x x x x 

First edit and release: 08 February 2020
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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