The Philippine Navy (PN), a vital branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), stands alongside the Philippine Army and the Philippine Air Force under the oversight of the Department of National Defense (DND).
With approximately 24,500 active service personnel, including the specialized 8,300-strong Philippine Marine Corps, the PN operates a formidable fleet comprising 82 combat vessels, 14 auxiliary vessels, 25 manned aircraft, and 8 unmanned aerial vehicles.
The PN plays a crucial role in maritime defense, sharing the responsibility of patrolling maritime borders with the Philippine Coast Guard, which transitioned into a distinct maritime law enforcement agency in 1998.
In this article, we’ll explore the rich history of the Philippine Navy, discover the job opportunities it offers, and learn more about this essential branch of the AFP.
Keep reading to uncover the details and find out about the various jobs available in the Philippine Navy.
Table of Contents
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Explore the rich history and capabilities of the Philippine Navy.
History of Philippine Navy:
Before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines, the ancient native people were actively involved in naval warfare, raiding, trade, piracy, and actively participated in travel, using various vessels including the balangay.
Evidence of this maritime tradition surfaced when a flotilla of balangay was discovered in the late 1970s in Butuan, Agusan del Norte.
Native Visayan Warships:
Native Visayan warships, including the Karakoa or Korkoa, were of excellent quality. Some were utilized by the Spaniards in expeditions against rebellious tribes, as well as against Dutch and British forces.
Larger rowed vessels held up to a hundred rowers on each side, accompanied by armed troops.
Generally, these larger vessels featured at least one lantaka at the front or another placed at the stern. Despite their large size, these ships had double outriggers. However, some larger sailing ships did not have outriggers.
Chinese Accounts and Raiders from Formosa:
Between A.D. 1174 and 1190, a Chinese government bureaucrat, Chau Ju-Kua, reported about “Pi-sho-ye,” believed to be ferocious raiders from the southern part of Formosa.
In A.D. 1273, Ma Tuan Lin referenced Pi-sho-ye raiders from the southern portion of Formosa, noting differences in language and appearance compared to Formosa’s inhabitants.
Battle of Manila in 1365:
The Battle of Manila in 1365 remains unspecified and disputed, occurring in the vicinity of Manila between Luzon’s kingdoms and the Empire of Majapahit.
While the exact details are unclear, claims of the conquest of Saludong (Majapahit term for Luzon and Manila) are found in the text Nagarakretagama.
Despite disputes, there might have been a battle, potentially a victory for Luzon’s kingdoms or Luzon regaining independence later.
Battle of Bangkusay (June 3, 1571)
The Battle of Bangkusay in 1571 marked the last resistance by locals to the Spanish Empire’s occupation and colonization of the Pasig River Delta.
Tarik Sulayman, chief of Macabebes, opposed the Spanish and attacked Spanish forces at Bangkusay Channel. Sulayman’s forces were defeated, and he was killed.
The Spanish victory, along with an alliance with Lakandula of Tondo, allowed them to establish control throughout the city and neighboring towns.
Early Spanish Era:
During the Spanish period, Spanish forces held full responsibility for the defense and general order of the archipelago.
The Spanish naval forces were tasked with maritime policing in the seas and providing naval logistics to the Army.
In the initial years, naval formations were primarily composed of conquistadors supported by native auxiliaries.
Composition of Naval Fleet:
Alongside Spanish Navy galleons, brigantines, galleys, and other vessels, locally built Manila galleons were integral to the fleet dedicated to protecting the archipelago from both foreign and local invaders.
The personnel manning the ships were mostly Filipinos, while the officers were of Spanish descent.
Battles of La Naval de Manila (1646):
The Battles of La Naval de Manila marked early naval conflicts in the Spanish Philippines. Fought in 1646 during the Eighty Years’ War, Spanish forces, consisting of two (later three) Manila galleons, a galley, and four brigantines,
successfully repelled various attempts by the Dutch Republic to invade Manila. The Spanish forces inflicted heavy damage on the Dutch fleet of nineteen warships, leading to the abandonment of the invasion by the Dutch.
18th and 19th Centuries:
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the composition of sailors underwent a transformation. Sailors became a mix of Spanish and Filipino personnel, and volunteer battalions were formed, comprising all-Filipino volunteers.
Filipinos played a significant role in Spain‘s overseas forces, including the Royal Spanish Navy during this period.
At the onset of the Philippine Revolution, Filipino members of the Spanish Army and Navy mutinied, shifting their allegiance from Spain to the Philippines.
Naval Provision in the Biák-na-Bató Constitution:
Recognizing the need for a naval force, Filipino revolutionaries incorporated a provision in the Biák-na-Bató Constitution.
This provision authorized the government to permit privateers to engage foreign enemy vessels, marking a crucial step in the Republic’s efforts to establish a naval presence.
Quote from Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo:
General Emilio Aguinaldo, a key figure in the Philippine Revolution, emphasized the importance of organizing the necessary army for the protection of the coasts of the Philippine archipelago and its seas.
He envisioned the appointment of a secretary of the navy and the inclusion of the duties of this office in the Biák-na-Bató Constitution.
Handover of the First Ship (May 1, 1898):
On May 1, 1898, Admiral George Dewey handed over the first ship to the Revolutionary Navy. This ship was a small pinnace taken from the Reina Cristina of Admiral Patricio Montojo, and it was named Magdalo.
Establishment of the Philippine Navy:
The Philippine Navy had its origins in the second phase of the Philippine Revolution when General Emilio Aguinaldo established the Revolutionary Navy.
Initially, it consisted of a small fleet comprising eight Spanish steam launches captured from the Spaniards. These ships were refitted with 9-centimeter guns.
Contributions and Expansion:
Wealthy individuals, including Leon Apacible, Manuel Lopez, and Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio, made significant contributions.
They donated five larger vessels—Taaleño, Balayan, Bulusan, Taal, and Purísima Concepción.
The fleet was further reinforced by a 900-ton inter-island tobacco steamer, the Compania de Filipinas (later renamed as the navy flagship Filipinas), steam launches purchased from China, and other watercraft donated by patriotic benefactors.
Later on, the Philippine Navy, with its strong dedication to maritime strength, set up bases for its ships in the following locations:
- Ports of Aparri
- Ports of Legazpi
- Ports of Balayan
- Ports of Calapan
- Ports of San Roque, Cavite
On September 26, 1898, Aguinaldo appointed Captain Pascual Ledesma, a merchant ship captain, as the Director of the Bureau of the Navy. He was assisted by Captain Angel Pabie, another merchant ship captain.
Following the passage of the Malolos Constitution, the Navy was transferred from the Ministry of Foreign Relations to the Department of War, subsequently known as the Department of War and the Navy. This department was headed by Gen. Mariano Trías.
However, as tensions escalated between Filipinos and Americans in 1899, and with a continued blockade on naval forces by the Americans, the Philippine naval forces began to face significant decimation.
American Colonial Period:
Creation of the Bureau of the Coast Guard and Transportation:
The American colonial government in the Philippines established the Bureau of the Coast Guard and Transportation.
Its objectives included maintaining peace and order, transporting Philippine Constabulary troops throughout the archipelago, and guarding against smuggling and piracy.
Filipino sailors were employed in various bureaus, contributing to the revitalization of maritime institutions.
Reopening of the Philippine Nautical School:
The former Spanish colonial Escuela Nautica de Manila was reopened and renamed the Philippine Nautical School by the Americans. It adopted the methods of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.
The U.S. Naval Academy accepted its first Filipino midshipman in 1919, and Filipinos were allowed to enlist in the U.S. Navy.
World War II and Japanese Occupation (1941–1945):
National Defense Act of 1935:
The Commonwealth Government passed the National Defense Act in 1935, emphasizing ground forces for the defense of the Philippines. However, naval protection was provided by the United States Asiatic Fleet.
Role of Offshore Patrol (OSP) in World War II:
With the withdrawal of the United States Asiatic Fleet after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines relied on its Offshore Patrol (OSP) Force, equipped with Q-boats, to repel Japanese attacks.
The OSP, dubbed the “Mosquito Fleet,” played a crucial role in guerrilla activities against Japanese forces.
Post-war Period (1945–1992):
Reactivation of OSP and Creation of the Philippine Navy:
After the liberation of the Philippines in 1945, the OSP was reactivated and later elevated to a major command through Executive Order No. 94 in 1947. It was renamed the Philippine Navy on January 5, 1951.
Philippine Navy’s Involvement in Regional Conflicts:
The Philippine Navy participated in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, providing combat service support, escort operations, and transporting contingents.
By the 1960s, it became one of the best-equipped navies in Southeast Asia.
Contemporary Period (1992–Present):
Chinese Incursion and Territorial Defense:
Concerns about Chinese incursions in the South China Sea led to the deliberate grounding of BRP Sierra Madre at the Second Thomas Shoal in 1995.
Philippine Navy Modernization and Bilateral Agreements:
The Philippines pursued modernization, and in 1998, the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement was signed.
The Balikatan exercises and other cooperative measures were established. Tensions with China continued, leading to increased focus on territorial defense capabilities.
Organization and Command Structure of the Philippine Navy:
The Philippine Navy operates under the jurisdiction of the Department of National Defense (DND). In the overarching structure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the most senior military officer is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, AFP, holding the rank of a four-star general/admiral, with consideration for membership in the Philippine Navy.
The Chief of the Navy, typically a vice admiral, serves as the senior naval officer. Alongside counterparts from the air force and army, they are subordinate only to the Chairman.
The Chief of the Navy (CoN) assumes sole responsibility for the administration and operational status of the Navy, akin to the role of the Chief of Naval Operations in the U.S. Navy.
The current naval establishment comprises two main commands: the Philippine Fleet and the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC).
Within this framework, there are seven naval operational commands, five naval support commands, and seven naval support units.
Recognizing the vast territorial waters that the Navy must safeguard, strategic deployment of naval resources is optimized through the identification of suitable locations.
This ensures that these units can deliver responsive services effectively.
The Philippine Fleet, known simply as the “Fleet,” operates under the direct command of the Commander, Philippine Fleet, while the Marine Corps reports to the Commandant, PMC (CPMC).
Both commands fall under the administrative and operational control of the Chief of the Navy. This organizational structure enables a coordinated and efficient approach to fulfilling the diverse responsibilities of the Philippine Navy.
Type Commands and Naval Units:
The Philippine Navy is organized into type commands, including the Philippine Fleet and Philippine Marine Corps.
It has naval air wing units and various operational commands, support commands, and support units, ensuring optimal deployment of resources.
Naval Support Commands
Naval Sea Systems Command (NSSC):
Responsible for overseeing and sustaining naval sea systems, ensuring the functionality and efficiency of naval equipment and technology.
Naval Education and Training Command (NETC):
Focuses on the education and training of naval personnel, fostering professional development and ensuring a skilled and knowledgeable naval force.
Naval Reserve Command (NAVRESCOM):
Manages and sustains the reserve forces of the Philippine Navy, ensuring readiness and augmenting the active-duty naval personnel when needed.
Naval Combat Engineer Brigade (NCEBde):
Specialized command responsible for naval combat engineering, providing essential support for amphibious operations and other combat engineering tasks.
Naval Installation Command (NIC):
Oversees and ensures the functionality and sustainability of naval installations, including bases and facilities critical for naval operations.
Naval Sea Systems Command
The Naval Sea Systems Command (NSSC), previously known as Naval Support Command (NASCOM), stands at the forefront of maritime excellence within the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
With an unwavering commitment to sustaining and advancing naval operations, NSSC operates as the preeminent industrial complex, overseeing vital functions crucial to the Philippine Navy’s operational readiness.
NSSC operates and manages military shipyards, overseeing the entire life cycle of naval vessels.
From construction to maintenance and repairs, the command ensures the continuous enhancement of the Navy’s fleet capabilities.
At the vanguard of innovation, NSSC is dedicated to researching, developing, and implementing cutting-edge technologies.
The command actively explores advancements that elevate the effectiveness and efficiency of naval systems.
NSSC excels in the detailed and expert maintenance of the entire Navy fleet. Through rigorous inspections and upkeep, the command ensures that each naval vessel achieves and maintains peak operational readiness.
Offshore Operating Base (Muelle de Codo):
NSSC’s primary operational base strategically facilitates a range of maritime activities crucial to naval operations. It serves as a hub for coordination, training, and logistical support.
Fort San Felipe, Cavite City:
Situated in Cavite City, this facility is a key center for supporting and coordinating naval endeavors. It contributes significantly to the command’s strategic operations and planning.
NSSC’s holistic approach, encompassing shipyard management, technology innovation, and meticulous maintenance, establishes it as the cornerstone of the Philippine Navy’s operational strength.
Naval Education, Training and Doctrine Command
Located in Naval Station Leovigildo Gantioqui, San Antonio, Zambales, NETDC serves as the institution of learning for the Philippine Navy.
Its mission is to provide education and training to naval personnel, empowering them to pursue progressive naval careers.
Naval Reserve Command
Based at Fort Santiago, Manila, the Naval Reserve Command (NAVRESCOM) is tasked with organizing, training, and administering all naval reservists, including midshipmen and midshipwomen from the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Units.
This command holds the responsibility of recalling reservists to provide the Philippine Navy with a foundation for expansion during sudden spikes in military manpower demand, whether due to war, rebellion, or natural disasters/calamities.
Additionally, NAVRESCOM plays a vital role in assisting in the socio-economic development of the country.
Formerly known as the Home Defense Command, NAVRESCOM continues to uphold its crucial role in national defense.
Naval Combat Engineer Brigade
Commonly referred to as the Seabees, the Naval Combat Engineer Brigade (NCEBde) is entrusted with combat engineering and amphibious construction to support Fleet-Marine operations.
Operating in tandem with the Philippine Marine Corps, the Seabees play a crucial role in the manning and security of naval garrisons in contested shoals and islands in the West Philippine Sea.
Under combat conditions, naval combat engineers execute tasks such as mobility, counter-mobility, assault, survivability, and construction, contributing to ground combat and amphibious operations.
Their responsibilities encompass the construction of roads, bridges, and other vital infrastructures, as well as the rehabilitation of piers, harbors, and beach facilities, including harbor clearing and salvage works.
The Seabees embody their motto, “We build, We fight!” showcasing their dedication to both construction and combat endeavors.
Naval Installation Command
Formerly known as Naval Base Cavite, the Naval Installation Command (NIC) plays a pivotal role in delivering essential support services to the Philippine Navy and other AFP tenant units within the base complex.
These services include refueling, re-watering, shore power connections, berthing, ferry services, tugboat assistance, sludge disposal services, and housing.
The NIC’s multifaceted responsibilities contribute to the operational efficiency and readiness of the Philippine Navy and its affiliated units stationed in the base complex.
Naval Support Units:
The Naval Support Units play a crucial role in providing comprehensive support to the navy, covering logistics, personnel, financial management, civil-military operations, and healthcare services.
This support structure is organized into nine groups:
1. Bonifacio Naval Station
2. Civil Military Operations Group-Philippine Navy
3. Naval Information and Communication Technology Center
4. Fleet-Marine Warfare Center
5. Headquarters Philippine Navy & Headquarters Support Group
6. Naval Intelligence and Security Force
7. Philippine Navy Finance Center
8. Naval Logistics Center
9. Navy Personnel Management Center
This division ensures that all aspects of support are effectively managed and coordinated, contributing to the overall efficiency and readiness of the Philippine Navy.
To organize, train, equip, maintain, develop and deploy forces for prompt and sustained naval and maritime operations to accomplish the AFP mission.
By 2028, we shall be modern, multi-capable naval force responsive to our maritime nation’s defense and development.
General / flag officers
2. Vice Admiral
3. Rear Admiral
7. Lieutenant Commander
9. Lieutenant (Junior Grade)
11. Master Chief Petty Officer
12. Senior Chief Petty Officer
13. Chief Petty Officer
14. Petty Officer, First Class
15. Petty Officer, Second Class
16. Petty Officer, Third Class
17. Seaman First Class
18. Seaman Second Class
19. Seaman Apprentice
This represents the rank structure for both officers and enlisted personnel in the Philippine Navy.
In brief, the Philippine Navy has undergone a remarkable journey, rooted in pre-colonial maritime traditions and evolving into a modern, multi-capable force.
Key historical moments include its establishment during the revolutionary era, contributions from individuals, and provisions in the Biák-na-Bató Constitution emphasizing maritime defense.
The American colonial period emphasized the revival of maritime institutions, focusing on education and training.
World War II showcased the resilience of the Offshore Patrol Force, leading to the formation of the Philippine Navy in 1951.
Participation in regional conflicts, modernization initiatives, and a strong emphasis on territorial defense demonstrate the Navy’s commitment to maritime security.
The organizational structure and core values guide its mission, with a vision to become a modern, responsive force by 2028.
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Attached in the last section of the content are references for further verification, if needed. Read more
1. Wikipedia: Philippine Navy. (n.d.). Retrieved 2023, from [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Navy]
2. Official Website: Philippine Navy. (n.d.). Mission and Vision. Retrieved 2023, from [https://navy.mil.ph/pn_web_pnmissionvision.php]