10 May 2014

US nuke sub arrives in Subic Bay

A nuclear-powered submarine of the United States Navy arrived here on Friday morning for what was described by the US Embassy in Manila as a “routine port call.”

The USS Chicago (SSN 721), a Los Angeles-type fast-attack submarine, docked at the Alava Wharf here, alongside the submarine tender USNS Emory Land, which came to port days earlier.

The US Embassy said Chicago’s visit will “allow the ship to replenish supplies, as well as give the crew an opportunity for rest and relaxation.”

The ship is said to carry a complement of 135 officers and ratings.

The port call also “highlights the strong historic, community and military connections between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines,” the Embassy statement said.

USS Chicago is part of the US Pacific Fleet’s Submarine Squadron 15 home-ported in Guam. It belongs to the 41-strong class of fast-attack submarines that form the backbone of the US Navy’s submarine force.

The ship is more than 360 feet long, displaces more than 7,000 tons when submerged, and attains an underwater speed of more than 20 knots.

Chicago, which carries Tomahawk land-attack missiles, Harpoon anti-surface ship missiles, as well as torpedoes and mines, can support “a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, and intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance,” the embassy said.

Chicago’s visit came amid this year’s staging of the Philippines-US exercise Balikatan and just 45 days after another American underwater craft, the nuclear-powered missile-guided submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727), docked here also for re-supply and crew “liberty.”

The Michigan surfaced here on March 25 amid rising tension at the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) following the attempted blockade by Chinese coast guard ships of a Philippines resupply vessel off Ayungin Shoal, but official US statements did not correlate the two events.

Instead, the embassy said the ship’s crew visited a local school for persons with disabilities in Olongapo City, as well as a local museum “to learn more about Filipino culture and history.” (Henry Empeño, BusinessMirror)

Crewmen of the nuclear submarine USS Chicago stand on deck, as the vessel is positioned by a tugboat alongside a submarine tender at the Alava Wharf in the Subic Bay Freeport on Friday. (Henry Empeño)