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2 tugboats to retrieve grounded Navy frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar

Two tugboats have been deployed to aid in retrieving the Philippine Navy frigate BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, which ran aground on a shoal in the West Philippine Sea, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Sunday.

"Ngayong hapon, expected natin na darating yung tug boat that departed Batangas two days ago," AFP Public Affairs chief Colonel Noel Detoyato told Super Radyo dzBB in an interview.

"Dalawa 'yun. Ang isa padating na, ang isa on the way pa," he said.

BRP Gregorio del Pilar, a former US Coast Guard cutter, ran aground on Hasa-hasa Shoal or Half Moon Shoal, about 60 nautical miles from Rizal town in Palawan, late Wednesday night.

According to Detoyato, the tug boats are small but strong enough to pull the ship from the shoal.

"Sila 'yung muscle. Ito 'yung maliliit na ship na malalakas. Malalakas manghila. Designed siya para humila ng malalaking barko," he said.

While the operation has not formally started, Detoyato said the chief of the Joint Task Force Goyong is already on board the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar.

He added that the speedy removal of the frigate will depend on the tides and wind direction.

The frigate suffered very minimal damage, Detoyato said, and will be towed to a harbor for repair. — Erwin Colcol/BM, GMA News