Philippine Navy bent on buying submarine

Posted at 05/12/2011 3:48 PM | Updated as of 05/12/2011 3:48 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Navy is planning to purchase its first ever submarine.

In a phone patch, Navy Philippine Fleet spokesman Lt. Rommel Rodriguez told reporters that experts are now meeting with international counterparts to assess the plan’s feasibility.

He said the Navy may acquire the submarine not later than 2020, depending on the political and administrative atmosphere.

"Right now, there are studies that are being undertaken. There are researches right now that involves submarine," Rodriguez said. He noted the study, conducted by the fleet’s office of plans and programs under Lt. Cmdr. Merlito Martinez, is upon orders from Rear Admiral Jose Luis Alano.

Rodriguez, however, noted that purchasing one would require billions of dollars.

"But since the Navy is geared towards Vision 2020, he wants to come up with a team, there is already a team that is conducting this studies and this studies will determine what capabilities do we need, where can we get this vessel or this submarine, what are the alternatives we have to be able to fund it, or how long will it take," he added.

He said the Navy needs to patrol the country’s territorial waters undetected, thus the need for a submarine.

"The amount may seem impossible for now but definitely we are taking a step forward because the President is (bent on) improving our naval capability. That is why, we are undertaking this study…We are taking a step forward, we are taking a step further," he said.

"It will be better (if we have a submarine) in patrolling our seas because when you have a submarine, it is physically invisible…We will be able to track those violating our maritime laws without them noticing us," said Rodriguez.

The assessment will first be presented to Navy officials before being submitted to the Armed Forces of the Philippine General Headquarters and the Department of National Defense.

Meanwhile, Philippine ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr. is due to receive tomorrow a Hamilton class ship that the country had purchased from the US Coast Guard. The military spent P1.2 billion for it.

Rodriguez said a team from the Navy is now in California to undergo training to operate the ship. They will set sail in July and will probably arrive in August.

The ship may be deployed to Palawan, which should be patrolled because of oil interest in the area.