ONCE OPERATIONAL and with all the proposed improvements done, Naval Base Rafael Ramos in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu would be an ideal and strategic location for the Philippine Navy (PN) as it could quickly deploy south or north easily.
“Maganda kasi strategic ang location since ang Cebu nasa gitna siya ng Pilipinas. Within one day pag galing ng Cebu makakapunta siya sa Norte, makapunta sa South tapos medyo tago pa siya. It’s a very strategic location,” PN spokesperson Cmdr. Jonathan Zata said.
The naval base is the projected home of the PN’s present and future frigates once upgrades consisting of dredging, primary and secondary roads, drainage systems, proposed slope protections, a 152-meter by 12-meter wharf, a 105-meter by 165-meter beaching ramp, and 225-meter by 20-meter berthing area among others, are completed.
Zata admitted that the improvements are intended to address the basing needs of the Navy’s two 2,500 gross-ton missile-firing frigates, now undergoing construction in South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, and expected to be delivered in 2020 and 2021.
These ships are expected to augment the three 3,200 gross-ton Del Pilar-class frigates, formerly the US Hamilton-class cutters now in PN service. Other large ships in the PN inventory are the two strategic sealift vessels, the 7,000-gross ton BRP Tarlac and BRP Davao Del Sur.
Dredging is needed as the waters in the facility are quite shallow for vessels with large drafts. The improvements have a budget of P1 billion. Zata said there is a pressing need for the PN to upgrade the Cebu naval base as its frigates and other large ships in the fleet have no home port to speak of.
At present, these large Navy ships are anchoring off Subic Bay and Pier 13, Manila South Harbor. And once these upgrades are completed, the base will be the first-ever facility capable of handling large vessels. (Priam Nepomuceno)
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