The Philippine Navy (PN) expects to beef up its presence in the West Philippine Sea with the arrival of more modern ships.

"With the two additional frigates plus one more Hamilton-class cutter in the pipeline, that will assure us of a 24/7 presence in the West Philippine Sea," Navy spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo, said.

He was referring to the two missile-armed frigates now undergoing bidding for P18 billion.

These ships are expected to be in service in 2017 once the bidding is completed, Arevalo said.

These ships will be armed with a variety of sensors and weapons capable of detecting and neutralizing air, surface, and submarine threats, he said.

The brand-new frigates will also be capable of electronic warfare, he added.

Aside from this, the frigates, according to their technical specifications, must be capable of performing of extended maritime patrol with an embarked naval helicopter and extended maritime surveillance capability through air-and-surface-search radar, and sound navigation and ranging (sonar) for sub-surface search, Arevalo stressed.

The third Hamilton-class cutter, sister ships of the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar (PF-15) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16), is also undergoing transfer negotiation.

Arevalo said that he has no idea on when this will be completed but pointed out that the third Hamilton-class cutter "is now in the pipeline".

These ships are expected to boost the country's maritime domain awareness capability.

Improvements on the Philippines' maritime awareness capability is one of the main goals of the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

This was stressed by a Department of National Defense position paper on the agreement.

The International Maritime Organization defines maritime domain awareness is the effective understanding of anything associated that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of a country’s maritime domain.

In addition, maritime domain is defined as all areas and things of, on, under, relating to, adjacent to, or bordering on a sea, ocean, or other navigable waterway.

This includes all maritime-related activities, infrastructure, people, cargo, and vessels and other conveyances.

In a military viewpoint, maritime domain awareness capability refers to the ability of a nation's armed forces to detect, monitor, and if needed, drive away intruders on its territorial waters.

These steps are now being done through the holding of joint training exercises such as "Balikatan". PNA