The commissioning of two Cyclone-class patrol ships donated by the United States on Monday (11 September 2023) marks a significant development for the Philippine Navy, as it enhances its capacity to conduct patrols in the tension-filled West Philippine Sea, according to defense officials.

These two ships, formerly known as the USS Monsoon (PC4) and USS Chinook (PC 9), will be christened as BRP Valentin Diaz (PC-177) and BRP Ladislao Diwa (PS-178), in honor of two Katipunan founding fathers, at the Philippine Navy Headquarters.

These vessels were the last two of the US Navy’s 14 Cyclone-class ships designed for littoral or shallow-water operations.

Having served the US Navy for nearly three decades, the Monsoon and Chinook were decommissioned on March 28 and subsequently brought to the Philippines under the Philippine Excess Defense Article (EDA) program in May.

Philippine Navy Chief Vice Admiral Toribio Adaci announced that Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. would be the guest of honor at the christening and commissioning ceremony of these two ships.

They will collaborate with Philippine Coast Guard vessels on missions that may include escorting chartered boats supplying the Philippine Navy outpost in Ayungin Shoal.

The situation in the West Philippine Sea has been marked by the presence of Chinese coast guard and maritime militia vessels attempting to obstruct resupply missions to the Ayungin station. Recently, the resupply boats successfully navigated past the blockade when the pursuing Chinese vessels encountered difficulties in coral reefs near the shoal’s entrance. Defense officials noted a significant increase in the number of Chinese vessels in the area in recent weeks.

Colonel Medel Aguilar, the spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), emphasized that the military and Coast Guard are determined to prevent any Chinese takeover of the Navy station in Ayungin. Additionally, the AFP is responding to private sector requests by documenting real-time updates of resupply missions to Ayungin via Facebook.

Beyond Ayungin, the Philippines maintains troops in eight other features within the West Philippine Sea, and the country has further strengthened its navy with the procurement of two new Israel-made fast attack interdiction craft missile vessels (FAIC-Ms).

These vessels renamed BRP Gener Tinangag (PG-903) and BRP Domingo Deluana (PG-905), are dedicated to the memory of Philippine Marine Lance Cpl. Gener Tinangag and Sgt. Domingo Deluana, who valiantly fought alongside 1st Lt. Lolinato-To-Ong in Maguindanao.

Additionally, plans are underway to acquire five more ships within the next two years.