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Harbor and Ocean-Going Tugboats Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy

The Philippine Navy has embarked on the acquisition of a harbor tugboat as well as an ocean-capable tugboat to assist larger naval vessels during entering to and leaving from their designated berthing and anchoring stations, aid vessels in manoeuvring in restricted waterways, and other harbor and towing duties.

With the Horizon 2 Priority Projects already approved in 2018, the Philippine Navy has decided to make use of the 2nd List of Horizon 2 phase to include this project.

The Harbor and Ocean-Going Tugboats Acquisition Project of the Philippine Navy was born out of need for new tugboats, with an initial 2 units eyed for acquisition through public bidding starting 2021.

The RAmparts 3000W oceangoing tugboat for the Philippine Navy during sea trials. Photo credits to MaxDefense Philippines contributor.

Project Summary:

Harbor and Ocean-Going Tugboats Acquisition Project:

Note: Edited as of 23 May 2023.

* End User: Philippine Navy 

Quantity: 1 Harbor Tugboat, and 1 Oceangoing Tugboat, including Integrated Logistics Support

* Modernization Phase:
 2nd List of Horizon 2 Phase of RAFPMP

* Project ABC:

Acquisition Mode: Public Bidding

* Source of Funding: FY2021 GAA Funds through AFP Modernization Program Trust Fund

* SARO Release/s: 

* Winning Proponent: Josefa Slipways Inc.

Product for Delivery: 1 x 30.25m RAmparts 3000W Oceangoing Tugboat, and 1 x 27.60m RAmparts 2700 Harbor Tugboat

* Contract Price: Php598,808,000.00

* Residual Amount: Php1,192,000.00

* First post by MaxDefense: 04 May 2021

* MaxDefense Searching Hashtag: #PNTugboatsAcquisition 

* Status: Invitation to Bid released by the DND on May 2021, for Public Bidding. SOBE scheduled on 08 July 2021. Notice of Award released in favor of Josefa Slipway Inc. on 31 August 2021. Contract signing and NTP released on 25 March 2022.
 Keel laying ceremonies held on 10 June 2022. No announcement was made on launching, but as of late March 2024 both boats were seen conducting sea trials.


The Philippine Navy has started modernizing its surface assets as most of its current assets are already beyond their expected lifespan. This includes the tugboats being operated by the service to service ships at port.

Not only are most of the PN's tugboats too old, but also lacking in numbers and are small in size. These tugboats are only capable of operating within port areas and in littoral areas.

Most, if not all of the PN's tugboats are not ocean-going and are old, hand-me-downs from the US, like the BRP YT-273 (above). Photo credits to UNTV Radio.

The accidental grounding of the patrol frigate BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) in the Hasa-Hasa Shoal in August 2018, and the lack of sufficient tugboats to pull the ship out of the shoal and tow it to safety was an eye-opener for Philippine Navy officials.

The Philippine Navy have to get the services of commercial tugboat operators to do the job as the service does not have any tugboats capable of such job. On top of that, the cost of the tugboat service from Hasa-Hasa Shoal to Subic Bay apparently costed the Philippine Navy a huge sum, which could have been enough for the service to buy a slightly-used tugboat in the international market.

The BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) stranded at Hasa-Hasa Shoal. Photo credits to Philippine Navy.

It was also reported then that China offered to help pull out the stranded BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) out as they know the Philippine Navy did not have the capacity to do it on its own, and out of fear that the Philippines might let the ship remain in the shoal as a temporary base.

Credits to original source.

In 2020, MaxDefense Philippines received information from sources that the Philippine Navy has started the pre-procurement process to acquire 2 tugboats with a budget of Php600 million. These tugboats would also have firefighting capability to assist other ships or shore facilities on fire.

2 commercial tugboats assisted BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) as it leaves the Sri Lanka's East Container Terminal in early 2020. Photo credits to Philippine Navy.

The ships are not expected to be armed by external-mounted weapons, but its crew can be equipped with small arms, as the boats will have its own armory.

The Invitation to Bid (ITB) for the project was released on 03 May 2021, with the Submission of Bids deadline and Bid Opening Date set on 25 May 2021, although this could change depending on outcome of the Pre-Bid Meeting on 11 May 2021.

Delivery date is expected in 540 calendar days from release of Notice to Proceed (NTP). It is expected that should the tender be successful in its first attempt, the NTP could potentially be released before yearend. And 540 calendar days would be around 2023.

The Harbor Tugboat is expected to be at least 26 meters long, displaces at least 400 tons, a crew of 10 personnel, and has a Bollard Pull of at least 40 tons.

Meanwhile, the Ocean-going Tugboat will be at least 30 meters long, displaces at least 600 tons, a crew of 10 personnel, and has a Bollard Pull of at least 60 tons.

Aside from these 2 boats, MaxDefense Philippines expects that additional tugboats would be acquired in the following years, as the Philippine Navy is hoping to have at least 6 new tugboats to be assigned in major Philippine Navy facilities in in Cavite, Subic, and Cebu.

An ocean-going tugboat, in which the PN wants to have 1 in this project. Photo credits to Kotug.

It remains to be seen if the PN could get the funds needed for another batch of tugboats, which is said to be for acquisition starting 2022, and another batch of 2 tugboats funded by 2023.

No information has been provided though if the Philippine Navy would retire its older tugboats, although it appears that they will remain for several years more.

U P D A T E S:

17 June 2021:

The DND released new Supplemental Bid Bulletins, which indicated a move of the Bid Submission deadline from 22 June 2021 to 01 July 2021.

This is already the 3rd time the date was moved. Usually dates are moved based on request of potential bidders, which could be trying to complete the legal and document requirements as part of their submission.


02 July 2021:

A new Supplemental Bid Bulletin has been released by the DND which allowed us to get additional information about the project:

1. Submission and Opening of Bids now moved from 01 July 2021 to 08 July 2021. Requests to further extend this has been rejected by the BAC.

2. The ships are required to be built in the Philippines. Proposals for offshore construction were rejected by the BAC.

3. Among those interested to supply the tugboats include Josefa Slipway (which built the Lapu-Lapu-class multi-mission offshore vessel of the BFAR), Megaship Builders (which was the lowest bidder for the PN's Landing Docks project but was disqualified), Propmech Corporation (which supplied the PN's MPAC Mk.1 to Mk.3 boats).

4. Main diesel propulsion engine brands limited to the following: Caterpillar, Fairbanks Morse, Detroit Diesel, MTU. Diesel generators are limited to the following brands: Perkins, Caterpillar, Cummins, MAN, Detroit Diesel, and MTU.

5. The tugboats will have a V-shaped hull, and use of balloon type launching of ships was rejected by the BAC.

6. Ownership of design by the Philippine Navy is a requirement that cannot be taken out.

The rejection by the BAC in many of the requests made by the 3 potential suppliers appears to be a factor for the potential failure of the bidding on 08 July 2021. But there is still possibility for it to run smoothly.


29 September 2021:

The DND has released the Notice of Award (NOA) for the project in favor of local shipbuilder Josefa Slipway Inc. on 31 August 2021, with a submitted bid of Php598,808,000.00.

The shipbuilder was declared the Single Calculated Responsive Bidder for the tender.

The NOA in favor of Josefa Slipway. Photo credits to DND.

One may have heard of the shipbuilder before, as Josefa Slipway Inc. built the Australian-designed Lapu-Lapu-class multi-mission offshore vessels (MMOVs) of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

It remains to be seen what design will Josefa Slipway use for their tugboats for the Philippine Navy.


14 June 2022:

Filipino shipbuilder Josefa Slipway Inc. held the Keel Laying Ceremony for the 2 tugboats being built for the Philippine Navy on 10 June 2022.

Take note that one is an oceangoing tugboat with 30.25m length, the other is a harbor tugboat with 27.60m length.

With the keel laying, we expect the tugboats to  be completed and ready for delivery to the Philippine Navy by early 2023.

Based on the photos below, the tugboats to be delivered are the RAmparts 2700 and RAmparts 3000W, both of which were designed by renowned tugboat designer Robert Allan Naval Architects & Marine Engineers.

Photo credits to Josefa Slipway Inc.


23 May 2023:

Construction appears to be ongoing although almost complete based on the latest photo posted by Milot Chau. 

Both tugboats are seen on the same location inside Josefa Slipway's yard in Sual, Pangasinan, as where the boats had their keel laying last year.

The two tugboats as seen recently, although no date provided. Photo credits to Milot Chau @ Defense of the Republic of the Philippines Facebook page, on behalf of original source.

There are some discrepancies though with regards to the Ocean-going Tug, as photos from Josefa Slipway previously indicated it as the RAmparts 3000W design, but based on Robert Allan Naval Architects & Marine Engineers website's RAindrops Magazine published in June 2022, the Philippine Navy will be receiving the slightly larger RAmparts 3200 design.

This can be clarified once the ocean-going tugboat has been completed since the name of the design is written on the superstructure of the tugboat based of other RAmparts tugboats built for other customers.

But most likely the design used is the RAmparts 3000W.

Photo credits to RAindrops Magazine June 2022.


24 March 2024:

Based on photos shared by one of our contributors, it appears that both the Harbor and Oceangoing Tugboats ordered by the Philippine Navy from Josefa Slipway are already completed and are already undergoing sea trials.

The tugboats were built by Josefa Slipway in Sual, Pangasinan, and are based on the internationally successful RAmparts 3000W oceangoing tugboat and RAmparts 2700 harbor tugboat design.

One of the photos shared to us includes the one below, which does not show any markings of the Philippine Navy yet, which may indicate that it has not been commissioned into service yet.

The Philippine Navy aims to acquire more of both designs once they find the performance and build quality of both tugboats to be beyond expectations.

Photo credits to MaxDefense Philippines contributor.


First edit and release: 04 May 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines / Philippine Defense Resource

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