PG Tomas Batillo Class
In 1995 the Philippine Navy recieved 5 Patrol Killer Medium 200 (PKM 200) Class vessels (also known as the Sea Dolphin) from the Republic of Korea. The ships, in used condition, arrived in the Philippines in August 1995 and were refurbished. On 22 May 1996 the ships were recommissioned as Tomas Batillo Class patrol gunboats in the Philippine Navy. They were christened the BRP Tomas Batillo (PG-110), BRP Bonny Serrano (PG-111), BRP Bienvenido Salting (PG-112), BRP Salvador Abcede (PG-114), BRP Ramon Aguirre (PG-115). The hull number PG-113 was reportedly skipped because of superstitious connotations surrounding the number 13. Another ship of the class was also acquried for spare parts, but the need for additional ships led to it being commissioned on 2 July 1998 as the BRP Nicolas Mahusay (PG-116).
The armament for the vessels in the class was variable. The original South Korean PKM 200 Class vessels (of which many remained in South Korean service after the transfer of the 5 initial ships to the Philippines) featured an Emerlec turret on the bow forward of the main superstructure with 2 30mm cannons and a 40mm Bofors cannon aft of the superstructure in an open mount. At least one of the ships the Philippine Navy recieved, the Bienvenido Salting, retained this turret. A number of the ships in Philippine Navy service instead featured a 40mm Bofors cannon in an open mount on the bow during the refit. Additional 20mm cannnon and .50 caliber machine guns were also fitted at various positions on the ship. Though the numbers and placement of these guns varried 2 20mm cannon on the bridge wings and 2 .50 caliber machine guns forward of the superstructure and 2 more aft of the superstructure were most common. PG-116 was also reportedly fitted with a 20mm rotary cannon, found on later PKM 200 Class vessels in South Korean service, but photographic evidence shows the more common 40mm cannon fit.
In 2004 the Philippine government awarded a contract to the Herma Shipyard and CAE Consortium for upgrades to 2 of the Tomas Batillo Class ships. These upgrades, under what became referred to as the Patrol Killer Medium-Republic of the Philippines (PKM-RP) Program had previously been planned to be conducted in the Republic of Korea, but no contractor could be found. The contract was approved, but was returned after Herma Shipyard/CAE Consortium failed to submit Performance Security documentation as required by the contract. A deadline of October 2004 was placed on the submission of the documentation.
In 2005 the Propmech Corporation was awarded another contract with similar parameters under the PKM-RP Program, as Herma Shipyard/CAE Consortium had failed to follow through with their contract award. By the end of 2007 the upgrade of the 2 ships had yet to be completed. An endurance run also revealed that the maximum speed requirement remained unattained. The ships in question were not identified, but reports of Boni Serrano and Nicolas Mahusay being refurbished with new engines and other equipment in 2008 suggested these were the ships in question. These ships had also been the subject of requests for proposals for structural repair work between the conclusion of the Propmech contract in 2007 and 2008. The Bienvenido Salting was also reported to be one of the 2 ships.
The Tomas Batillo class vessels had been very active in the Philippine Navy since their introduction owing much to their relative age compared to other ships in inventory when they were delivered. Their main task has been the protection of the Malampaya natural gas platforms near Palawan.
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