The next stop of our Philippine Navy Ships Series is the Auk Class Minesweepers or the Rizal Class Corvettes.
The Auk Class Minesweepers are minesweepers created by the Associated Shipbuilding Corporation and the Savannah Machine and Foundry Corporation for the British and American Navies during World War II. There are thirty – two ships ordered by the US Navy for Lend – Lease to the Royal Navy. Of the thirty – two, twelve were retained for use of the US Navy. In the Royal Navy, they were renamed the Catherine Class with the “J” pennant number. Eleven of the Auk Class Minesweepers were sunk during World War 2.
The Auk Class Minesweepers displaced 890 tons standard load and 1,100 tons fully loaded. Its length is 221.2 ft with a beam of 32 ft and a draught of 11 inches. It is propelled by twin screws powered by two GM EMD 16V-645E6 Diesel Engines propelling the ship to a maximum of 18 knots at 5,800 SHP. It has a range of 5000 nautical miles when running at an economical speed of 14 knots. It has a standard armament of two 3 inch/50 caliber MK26 Dual Purpose Gun, two twin 40mm Bofors Gun, two 20mm Oerlikons, and four 50 caliber machine guns. Its sensors and processing equipments include, a Raytheon SPS-5C G/H-Band Surface Search Radar, DAS 3 I-Band Navigation Radar, SQS-17B Hull Mounted Sonar (high frequency), Mk52 GFCS for 3”/50 caliber guns and Mk51 GFCS for twin 40mm Bofors gun. It has a complement of approximately a hundred crew.
AUK CLASS MINESWEEPERS OF THE PHILIPPINE NAVY
There are two Auk Class Minesweepers in the Philippine Navy Fleet. USS Murrelet now named BRP Rizal (PS-74) and USS Vigilance now named BRP Quezon (PS-70). They are still in active service as of today.
BRP QUEZON (PS – 70)
BRP Quezon (PS – 70) was once known as USS Vigilance (AM – 324) which was originally laid down for the Royal Navy as HMS Exploit (BAM – 24) but the US Navy kept her for their own use. Awarded with three Battle Stars during World War II, USS Vigilance was first commissioned to the US Navy in 1944. She was tasked to screen transport convoys from Pearl Harbor to the Marshall Islands and local escort duties between Guam, Peleliu and Ulithiat. She also did minesweeping and anti – submarine patrols near Okinawa, Japan. She also assists in anti – aircraft duties, firefighting and treatment of wounded specially from USS Whitehurst (DE-634) and USS England (DE-635). She was able to shoot down a number of attacking Japanese aircraft and was on minesweeping and patrol duties in Leyte and Japan. She was transferred to the Philippines in 1967 and was commissioned RPS Quezon (PS – 70), together with her sister ship, they became one of the main warships of the Philippine Fleet. In late 1994 she was stricken but was overhauled at the Cavite Naval Dockyard and was returned to active duty in 1995. Her anti – submarine capability was completely deleted due to lack of spare parts. Quezon completed a rehabilitation and overhaul in April 1996 by Hatch and Kirk. She was fitted with a new engine, new state – of – the art equipment on deck and engine room with all digital control panels.
BRP Quezon joined several exercises and deployments during its service with the Philippine Fleet. On April 10 2007, BRP Quezon together with BRP Artemio Ricarte and BRP Bienvenido Salting joined the Malaysian Navy vessels KD Kedah, KD Laksamana Tan Pusmah, and KD Yu in a ten – day naval training exercise dubbed “MALPHI LAUT 2007”. She also represented the Philippine Fleet in the Indonesian Fleet Review and Sail Bunaken 2009 festival an International Sea Event held in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. On November to December of 2009, BRP Quezon and BRP Dagupan City (LC – 551) were sent to Singapore and Malaysia for an overseas training cruise for students from the Naval Education and Training Command and the Fleet Training Center, they also represented the Philippines at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibit (LIMA) in Malaysia.
BRP RIZAL (PS – 74)
BRP Rizal was once known as the USS Murrelet (AM – 372) was once was commisioned in 1945. Its primary mission is to sweep mines in the Japanese and Korean waters. She was decommisioned in 1948 and was out in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Recommisioned in 1950, she arrived at Yokusuka, Japan. In August 1951, she aided the UN on the fight against Communist aggresion. She served in the Korean war in 1952 until the time that she returned to the West Coast. She then did a second tour of duty in Korea in 1953. She was awarded five Battle Stars for Korean service. Changed her hull number to MSF – 372 in 1955, she continued operating on the west coast until her decommisioning in 1957 and was returned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She was struck from the naval register in 1964 and was transferred to the Philippine Navy in 1965. Classified and coded several times while on duty with the Philippine Navy, she was assigned with different codes and classifications. First classified as a minesweeper with the hull number and code PCE – 69 (RPS Rizal), then she was reclassified as a corvette with the same name but different code RPS Rizal PS – 69. She was renumbered in 1996, PS – 74 BRP Rizal which is still used up to today.
She was stricken from the Navy in 1994, but was overhauled and returned to active duty the next year 1995. Her anti – submarine warfare capabilities were completely removed. She completed restoration works in 1996.
BRP Rizal joined in several naval exercises and deployments during her service with the Philippine Navy. BRP Rizal participated in the CARAT 2005 exercises with the US Navy together with BRP Emilio Jacinto (PS – 35), BRP Bacolod City (LC – 550) BRP Hilario Ruiz (PG-378), and BRP Timoteo Figoracion (PG-389). BRP Rizal was also a participant of Exercise SEAGULL in Brunei together with BRP Federico Martir (PG – 385). She also participated in a joint border patrol in 2008 with Malaysian Navy ships KD Ganas and KD Sri Perlis and Philippine Navy ships with BRP Bonny Serrano and BRP Nicolas Mahusay. Last July 2011, she joined US Navy ships, USS Chung – Hoon (DDG – 93) and USS Howard (DDG – 83) and Philippine Navy ship BRP Pangasinan (PS – 31) in the latest Cooperation Afloat Readiness And Training (CARAT) Exercises 2011 – Philippines.
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