MANILA, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Indonesian shipbuilder PT Pal is to launch on Sunday the first of two strategic sealift vessels constructed for the Philippine Navy.
The ship, a landing platform dock, is based on the Indonesian Navy's Makassar/Banjarmasin-class vessel. It is 404 feet long, 72 feet in the beam and weighs more than 11,500 tons when fully loaded.
It will be used for disaster relief and in humanitarian missions and could also be used as a supply vessel in the South China Sea -- also called the West Philippine Sea -- where the Philippines is engaged in a sovereignty dispute with China.
When commissioned into service, it will be the largest ship in the Philippine Navy.
"We just got word from the Navy that the strategic vessel, one of two we have ordered from Indonesia, will be launched January 17 at the PT PAL shipyard in Indonesia," Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said. "Key officials will be in attendance to see the launching of that ship."
Padilla made the announcement on Friday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The strategic sealift vessel to be launched on Sunday can carry as many as 500 troops and their equipment. It is also capable of carrying two helicopters and will be armed.
"It can stand alone as a command and control ship that can coordinate, rescue, recover and retrieve during disasters...It can also be used as a floating hospital in case our health centers and hospitals in provinces that were affected by disasters become unavailable," Padilla said.
The ship is scheduled for delivery to the Philippine Navy in May. The second vessel will be delivered next year.
The vessels were ordered in 2014 and have a combined cost of about $92 million.