WASHINGTON, D.C.—The BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) began its much-awaited sea trials as part of preparations for its journey to the Philippines.
In a statement, the Philippine Embassy said the Alcaraz left at 8:30 a.m. Monday, from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in North Charleston, South Carolina, where it has been undergoing refurbishment since it was turned over to the Philippines last year.
Navy Capt. Elson Aguilar, Defense and Naval Attaché of the Embassy, said the Alcaraz will stay out at sea for three days to test its propulsion and other systems before returning to port on Thursday.
“We want to make sure everything is in place before the Alcaraz finally sets sail for the Philippines before the middle of next month,” Captain Aguilar said.
The Alcaraz has been undergoing refurbishment since it was acquired by the Philippines in May 2012.
The vessel’s 14 officers and 74 crew members led by Capt. Ernesto Baldovino have also been undergoing training since the turnover.
The 378-foot-long Alcaraz was commissioned in 1968 and served with the US Coast Guard as the USCGC Dallas until it was decommissioned and turned over to the Philippines in May. It is being refurbished and refitted at a cost of $15.15 million.
The Alcaraz is the second Hamilton-class cutter that was acquired by the Philippines under the Excess Defense Article and Military Assistance Program. The first, the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF15), was turned over to the Philippine Navy in May 2011.
According to Captain Aguilar, both the Alcaraz and the Del Pilar are capable of conducting patrols for long periods of time and withstanding heavy weather and rough sea conditions.
The Alcaraz was named after Commodore Ramon Alcaraz, a Philippine Navy officer, who distinguished himself during the Second World War when the patrol boat he commanded was credited for shooting down three Japanese aircraft. ###