The BRP Tarlac (LD-601), the country’s first strategic Sealift vessel (SSV), will be fitted with a weapon system to be able to defend itself against any incoming threat.

According to Philippine Fleet commander Rear Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado, the Philippine Navy (PN) is now in the process of evaluating the design and the most appropriate weapons systems for the 7,300 gross ton ship to be able to defend itself from any possible threat.

“Definitely, we’ll put in weapons systems, (so) at the very least she is able to defend itself,” he said.

The BRP Tarlac (LD-601) –

The BRP Tarlac is one of the two SSVs acquired from PT PAL (Persero) for the a total of PHP3.8 billion and was patterned after the Indonesian Makassar-class landing platform dock. Her sister-ship is expected to be delivered by May 2017

But since the BRP Tarlac is designated as an SSV, he stressed that whenever it goes on patrol or deployment, the PN’s largest ship will be provided “force protection by our combat ships.”

These escorting vessels will be provided by the PN’s offshore combat force, he said.

The SSv can carry 500 troops at one time along with two rigid-hull inflatable boats, two landing craft units, and three naval helicopters.

The ship has an overall length of 120 meters,breadth of 21 meters, a draft of five meters; it can carry a payload of 2,800 tons; it has a minimum operating range of 7,500 nautical miles and a complement of 121 officers and enlisted personnel. – Jason E.