Last month, Australia gifted the Philippines navy two landing craft to help with the navy’s modernization and improve its ability to respond to natural disasters. In an email interview, Eric Wertheim, a defense consultant and author of “Combat Fleets of the World,” discussed the Philippines navy and its modernization plan.
WPR: What are the current size, capabilities and preparedness of the Philippines navy?
Eric Wertheim: Today, the navy of the Philippines includes approximately 24,000 personnel, including some 8,300 marines. The naval reserve forces are estimated to number an additional 15,000 people. The navy and marine corps have a strong tradition, but much of their equipment is aging and in need of modernization. The fleet currently includes a mix of patrol ships, landing craft and support vessels that vary in size. These vessels range from a maximum of 377 feet for the largest, which are 1960s-era ships recently retired from the U.S. Coast Guard, to small, locally built landing craft that are less than five years old. Although readiness remains a problem after years of neglect, some efforts are being made to improve the situation. Unfortunately, the Philippine navy remains sorely outclassed by many of its neighbors.