29 May 2015
The Philippines needs to have a submarine capability for external defense and for the protection of maritime resources in view of China’s growing belligerence in the West Philippine Sea.
Philippine Navy flag officer in command, Vice Admiral Jesus C. Millan said developing a submarine arm was already being considered under the modernization program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He said the AFP has acknowledged the importance of such capability for future requirements.
“This is a great challenge to all of us so it is important that we learn the concept,” Millan said.
“Our initial step in the Navy is to establish an office, the unit and start learning about this discipline,” he added.
The Navy chief acknowledged that acquiring such capability cannot happen overnight and may take some time.
However, he said the Navy is now preparing its men who will be involved in the development of such capability.
Millan said a submarine can perform nontraditional roles, including search-and-rescue operations and things beyond the capabilities of surface assets.
AFP Chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang has said that the Philippines would need at least three submarines to boost the country’s maritime defense.
The Department of National Defense was considering the acquisition of diesel-electric submarines using torpedoes, missiles or nuclear weapons.
According to reports, a brand-new diesel-powered submarine unit costs between $200 million to $500 million while a nuclear-run submarine costs $2 billion each.
In peacetime, submarines can perform intelligence gathering to closely monitor hostile activities in disputed areas.
Millan likewise said that the Navy has already established coast watch stations, which the Navy called maritime situational awareness platforms, in partnership with other agencies. These stations are now strategically located in Luzon, particularly in Palawan, and in Mindanao.
Millan said these stations were started in the Zamboanga peninsula and Sulu and Tawi-tawi in the south, and in Mindoro in the west.
He said the Navy also plans to build naval base in Oyster Bay for mission essential facilities, such as supporting the deployed assets of the fleet as well as the Marines.
“If we develop this facility or naval station, it can save us in terms of resources that will be expended by ships that will be deployed,” he said.