Indonesian ship builder PT Pal is set to launch the first of the two strategic sealift vessels that the Philippine Navy acquired from Indonesia.

“We just got word from the Navy that the strategic vessel, one of two we have ordered from Indonesia, will be launched January 17 at the PT PAL shipyard in Indonesia. Key officials will be in attendance to see the launching of that ship,” spokesperson for the Armed Forces Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla told reporters on Friday.

Launching the vessel means a ship is to put into the ocean for the first time from the dry dock, series of tests will be made before it is delivered to the buyer.

KRI Makassar/Banjarmasin-class vessel. Photo from Wikipedia

The ship is a landing platform dock that is based on the Indonesian Navy’s Makassar/Banjarmasin-class vessel. It is 404 feet long, 72 feet in the beam and weighs more than 11,500 tons when fully loaded.

When commissioned into service, it will be the Navy’s first strategic sealift vessel and the largest ship in the Philippine Navy.

The acquisition of this ship is aimed at advancing the country’s naval capabilities, it is an “important milestone” for the Philippine Navy, Padilla said.

“It will increase our capacity for humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” he said.

A model of PT PAL’s Strategic Sealift Vessel (SSV) for the Philippine Navy, taken during the ADAS 2014 Exhibit at the World Trade Center in Pasay, Manila, Philippines. Source: Wikipedia

The strategic sealift vessel to be launched on Sunday is capable of carrying two helicopters and will be armed, it can also carry as many as 500 troops and their equipment.

Padilla said that the ship may also be used as a supply vessel in the West Philippine Sea and other areas.

“It can stand alone as a command and control ship that can coordinate, rescue, recover and retrieve during disasters…It can also be used as a floating hospital in case our health centers and hospitals in provinces that were affected by disasters become unavailable,” Padilla said.

The ship is scheduled for delivery to the Philippine Navy in May. The second vessel will be delivered in 2017, next year. -John Esconde