|The FS La Tapageuse (P691) of the French Navy.|
Photot taken from meretmarine.com.
The deal was first announced to the public by the PCG in July 9, 2013, as a 52-meter used patrol vessel from an unnamed country. The ship's name and source was later revealed in a TV interview with PCG Spokesperson Cmdr. Armand Balilo.
The PCG will be spending around €6.295 million for the entire ship, including refurbishing works.
|A limited edition postcard featuring the French patrol vessel FS La Tapageuse (P691) circa 1994.|
Photo taken from Ebay.com
The La Tapageuse (P691) is the last of the L' Audacieuse-class patrol vessels built by CMN Shipyard at Cherbourg, France. The class is based on the P400 design from CMN. It was launched in February 1987, and was commissioned to the French Navy on February 1988. It was armed with a 40mm Bofors gun, 2 20mm modele F2 guns, and 2 AA-52 7.62mm machine guns. The class were assigned to patrol the French EEZ, and were pre-positioned in different French Overseas Territories, with the P691 specifically assigned in the French Polynesia. They are currently being replaced by the older but larger D'Estienne d'Orves-class (Aviso) corvettes (removed of their heavy armaments) in that duty. The La Tapageuse was decommissioned on July 30, 2012 after travelling back to France from Papeete, French Polynesia, and other ships of the class are also scheduled for decommissioning soon as more Avisos replace them in patrol duties.
|The FS La Tapageuse (P691)|
Photo taken from Wikimedia.
If the deal pushes through according to schedule, the PCG expects the ship to be delivered by 2014, although it is still unclear if the ship's weapons will be included. It is also unclear yet if there will be additional units from the same class that could be made available for sale to the Philippine government. Even so, the ship will be a big boost to the capability of the PCG as they are now experiencing lack of assets to be effective in their duties. The La Tapageuse is roughly the same size as the PCG's San Juan-class patrol vessels which are considered as one of their largest assets.
|The FS La Tapageuse (P691) underway.|
Photo taken from meretmarine.com
The deal to purchase the La Tapageuse is separate from another plan by the PCG to purchase brand-new French-made patrol vessels, with 4 units of 24-meter patrol boats and 1 unit of 82-meter offshore patrol vessel being negotiated. There is also another deal between the Philippine and Japanese governments for 10 units of 40-meter multi-role patrol boats, with the Philippines asking for 5 of the boats to be built in Philippine shipyards.
|The route of FS La Tapageuse for its travel between May to June 2012 from Papeete, French Polynesia to Brest, France prior to decommissioning.|
Photo taken from French Ministry of Defense website.
To standardize the ship class in PCG service, MaxDefense' opinion is for them to secure the other ships of the class that are in either storage or scheduled for decommissioning soon by the French Navy if funds are still available. This would enable the PCG share commonality of assets for more effective asset management and support. MaxDefense believes that the price asked by the French government for the ship is reasonable, reportedly at €399,000 for the unit, but the cost for refurbishing, upgrade, and installation of PCG-specific items and systems will take up most of the €6.295 million cost.
|The La Tapageuse upon its arrival in Brest, France on June 2012.|
Photo taken from Ouest-France website.
The Philippine government should use this chance to boost the capabilities of the PCG in light of the recent push by the China Coast Guard to send armed patrol vessels in contested areas of the West Philippine Sea. MaxDefense also believes that the PCG should retain the 40mm Bofors gun on the ship, following its peer's decision to deploy armed civilian ships as well.
June 23, 2014:
Forgot to update this blog entry. It seems that the PCG has forego the acquisition fo the La Tapageuse (P691) from the French government. According to Navy Recognition, the ship was acquired by Piriou Naval Services, for refurbishing and sale to any interested government. Although the Philippines still has a chance to acquire the ship from Piriou, the chances are now slim. MaxDefense believes it is safe to say that the deal is off now.
June 25, 2014:
A recent interview of PCG Vice Commandant Rear Admiral Cecil Chen by Defence IQ reiterated the PCG's plan to acquire a pre-owned 54-meter naval vessel from France, which describes the P400-class patrol vessels like the La Tapageuse. No specific vessel was named by the Rear Admiral on the interview. It is possible that other ships of the class will be acquired instead of the La Tapageuse but that remains to be seen. MaxDefense will continue to check if the deal for La Tapageuse remains or not.
October 31, 2014:
Consider this deal a done one. IHS Janes reported that Gabon has signed up to acquire the ex-French Navy patrol vessel La Tapageuse from French shipbuilder Piriou. Aside from that, the African country is also acquiring a brand new 58-meter patrol vessel from them.
Because of delays by the Philippine Coast Guard to finalize its confirmation to acquire the ship, and due to many issues on the Philippine government's procurement procedures and requirements due to the ship's age and requirement for refurbishing, the PCG was not able to proceed with finalizing the deal, and lost a chance to acquire a ready to use offshore patrol vessel not only once, but twice. The first was when the French government offered it to the PCG and was instead brought in by Piriou, and now when Piriou placed it on sale after being refurbished. Piriou reportedly guarantees the ship to be good enough for another 15 years.
The P400-class are large enough to tackle the conditions of the West Philippine Sea. With the La Tapageuse gone, the PCG or even the PN may stilk have a chance to get one or more from the Fremch if it really wants to. The French Navy is scheduled to decommission its remaining P400-class patrol vessels soon, although leting the La Tapageuse slip away may already mean a lot on how the PCG look at the ship class.
Goodbye ex-La Tapageuse, may you serve the Gabonese Navy well.