Flight decks of PCG's SARV to determine helicopters to be acquired

November 7, 2010 1:06 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 6 – While admitting that it has more than sufficient funds to buy two or three brand new helicopters, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said that the flight deck capacity of the country's existing search-and-rescue vessels (SARV) will determine what specific airframe will be acquired.

"The flight decks of our four SAR vessels are only capable of supporting light to medium size helicopters which are capable of carrying between four to eight people aside from its rescue equipment," Tamayo said.

The PCG currently has four SARVs in its fleet.

These are the BRP San Juan (AU 001), BRP EDSA DOS II (AU 002), BRP Pampanga (AU 003), and BRP Batangas (AU 004).

The ships, weighed around 275 dead weight tons, are 56 meters long and 10.55 meters wide, and equipped with two Caterpillar diesel engine, giving them a maximum speed of 26 knots.

A SARV has a complement of 13 officers and 24 crews and is capable of transporting 300 persons during an emergency.

All four SARVs have a flight deck capable of supporting the operations of one light helicopter weighing 4,672 kilograms.

The PCG chief also said that it would be a waste of money should they go ahead with the acquisition of helicopters not suited to the capabilities of the ships of the country's SAR fleet as it will only end up being based in land and away from the seas, where it most needed, especially during typhoon season.

"While there are a lot of good helicopter designs in the United States and Europe, these won't fit our rescue units as these are heavy lift units and won't fit our flight decks," Tamayo said.

He also said that the number of units of the helicopters the PCG can acquire will depend on the unit cost of the winning airframe, its weight, and the number of SAR gear it can accommodate.

"The PCG's 2011 budget is about P3.6 billion, about P1.6 billion will be used for the upgrading of our air arm capability, salary standardization of our officers and men, and recruitment of an additional 500 men. Depending on the fully equipped version cost of the winning design, we can either acquire either three or two, depending on the final cost. If there are funds remaining, them we may use it to upgrade our existing aircraft to more modern standards," Tamayo said. (PNA) RMA/PFN

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