16 May 2012

US submarine docks at Subic Bay

A United States attack submarine, the USS North Carolina, docked at Subic Bay on Sunday, the US Pacific Command (Pacom) said in a report.

According to Pacom , the Virginia class fast attack submarine’s Philippine visit was part of the vessel’s Western Pacific deployment.

In a text message on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Asec. Raul Hernandez confirmed the sub’s Philippine presence. “USS North Carolina… [is] in Subic Bay, on routine ship replenishment.”

Hernandez noted the submarine will be in the Philippines until May 19.

“North Carolina is one of the stealthiest, most technologically advanced submarines in the world,” Pacom claimed.

With a crew of 133, the submarine measures more than 350 feet long and weighs more that 7,800 tons when submerged.

“She brings to the region the capability to conduct the full spectrum of potential submarine missions including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and mine warfare,” Pacom noted.

Master chief Jon Consford said the visit constitutes “rest and relaxation.”

“Everyone is looking forward to some good liberty, rest and relaxation during our port visit here in Subic Bay… The crew has worked hard and developed tremendously as a team over the last five and a half months,” he said in the same Pacom report.

A regular visit

Meanwhile, the country’s defense agency seemed clueless about the USS North Carolina.

“Wala pang official report. I have no knowledge of it,” Department of National Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Ruben Galvez told GMA News Online over the phone.

If a submarine visited in the country, it should be perceived as regular, he said.

“I have no information kung ano ‘yung nature ng visit kung meron man. Pero regarding that, may regular visits naman talaga,” said Galvez.

US presence escalates tension–CPP

Amid brewing tensions between Beijing and Manila over Panatag Shoal, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said in a statement on Sunday that US military presence escalates the tension between the two Asian countries.

“It is US military buildup… in the Asia-Pacific that is pushing China to further aggressiveness, resulting in worsening territorial conflicts and stoking diplomatic tensions between China and the Philippines,” the statement read.

Though the group backed the assertion of Philippine sovereignty over Panatag Shoal, it noted that the country should not lean on the US for military aid.

"In the past, the conflicts in the South China Sea have never been a source of great tension between the Philippines and China,” they said.

“Without the presence and interference of the US, claimant countries, including China, have been able to work together with each other with the aim of resolving the conflicts through diplomacy and negotiations,” CPP claimed.

Amid the dispute, the US and the Philippines issued a joint statement on April 30 reinstating the alliance “undergirding regional peace, security, and prosperity. (VS/KG, Rouchelle R. Dinglasan, GMA News)

File photo of the the US Navy's USS North Carolina (SSN777) attack submarine.