04 September 2012

US Navy submarine tender arrives in Subic Bay

An American warship that provides at-sea support to the US Navy’s attack submarines in the Pacific region arrived here on Monday, coinciding with the start of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 11-day swing of Southeast Asia to push for regional unity in face of increasing Chinese aggressiveness in the area.

According to a statement from the United States Embassy in Manila, the USS Frank Cable (AS-40) docked in this free port “for a routine port call and goodwill visit that highlights the strong historic, community, and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines.”

Clinton, who is scheduled to meet Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is expected to offer strong US support for a plan to ease tensions over disputed islands in the South China Sea, where China has overlapping claims with other countries, including the Philippines.

Reports also said Clinton will urge Southeast Asian nations to present a united front in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The US Embassy, however, did not mention any connection between Clinton’s visit and the arrival of USS Frank Cable, and simply said that the ship would be here “to engage with their counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and to allow the crew an opportunity for rest and relaxation.”

 The statement released by the embassy’s Information Office also contained an invitation for media representatives join a tour of the ship on Monday, Sept.10, “where they may take photos and conduct interviews with senior officers and crew of the ship.”

The LY Spear-class USS Frank Cable (AS-40) was designed as a "submarine tender" for the nuclear-powered, fast-attack "Los Angeles-class" submarines, which are said to form the backbone of the US Navy’s submarine force.

The 664-foot, 23,000-ton “warship that fixes warships” can provide food, fuel, weapons, and other supplies to submarines, while carrying a full array of maintenance equipment and personnel.

The ship is home-ported at the Apra Harbor in Guam, where it was assigned after refitting to replace the USS Holland in the Western Pacific as Commander Seventh Fleet’s mobile repair and support platform.

It is now one of the only two submarine tenders in the US Military Sealift Command’s 26-vessel "Special Mission Ships" Program." (Henry Empeño, Business Mirror)