Subic Freeport firm builds PHL coastal defense boats

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — A Filipino-owned boat building company based in the Subic Bay Freeport is now producing high-speed patrol boats to boost the Philippine military’s littoral combat force.

Safehull Marine Technologies, Inc., which occupies a factory and warehouse here at Subic’s Global Industrial Park, recently delivered 21 high-speed tactical watercraft (HSTW) for deployment by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Mindanao this year.

“These are sleek, good-looking boats that you would mistake for pleasure yachts, but they’re really fast and stable and could be mounted with guns for tactical missions,” said Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma, who joined a sea trial of the HSTW recently.

“It makes us proud that these vessels are made in Subic, and that they’re a product of a Filipino company,” Eisma added.

The 40-foot long HSTWs were commissioned by the PNP for patrolling the country’s exclusive economic zone, law enforcement and peace and order, as well as for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Each equipped with three Honda outboard motors, the fiberglass-hulled boats can reach a top speed of 45 knots and are intended to operate approximately 200 miles from shore and in slight to moderate sea conditions.

Safehull company officials said they were able to make a breakthrough in production after perfecting the vacuum infusion process, which shortened the period of hull construction from three weeks to one day.

Safehull Marine, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Manila-based Propmech Corporation, is engaged in the fabrication of ship and ship components, ship repair, and engineering services for design and installation of parts and modules.

Thirty percent of the boats built here in Subic are for clients in the defense industry, including the United States military, Safehull officials said.

The boats are designed, assembled and outfitted in Subic by Safehull and Propmech by means of local naval architects and workers, and in partnership with foreign technology companies like the Damen Group of Netherlands, Saab Group of Sweden, Taiwan’s Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co., and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense System.

The Propmech and Safehull joint venture has also built three multi-purpose attack craft (MPAC) that were delivered to the Philippine Navy in 2009, 2012 and 2017; a 15-meter landing craft vehicle personnel (LCVP) for the Philippine Navy; as well as 136 units of 50-horsepower rubber boats for the PNP.

This year, it is scheduled to build another unit of MPAC that the Philippine Navy is outfitting with short-range surface-to-surface missile.

Aside from the defense projects, Safehull and Propmech also build 21-meter passenger/cargo boats; multi-purpose patrol boats for the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; and aluminum rescue boats for the Philippine Coast Guard. (Dante M. Salvana)

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