Navy modernizing but ships don’t have ports to dock in
The Philippine Navy has been very aggressive in modernizing its fleet but one of its biggest problems was where to dock five ships “with deep drafts,” according to Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad, Navy flag officer in command.
“They are always anchored at sea with their engines running,” Empedrad said in an interview with dwDD, the official radio station of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He said contrary to common perception that the Philippine Navy was lagging behind its Asian neighbors, the modernization program was turning the Navy into a world-class fighting force.
Empedrad said in July the Navy would test its first missile, adding that President Duterte wanted to see it.
President Duterte, Empedrad said, was so impressed by the Navy’s display of capability during its 120th anniversary celebration that the President wanted the Navy to have submarines next.
“The trend now is submarine warfare,” Empedrad said.
“It’s very hard to find an enemy that you cannot see. Submarines are hard to detect,” he said.
The Navy, he added, had sent staff for training abroad in preparation for acquiring submarines “which can take from seven to 10 years.”
Attack helicopters due for delivery in March next year from the United Kingdom were also “antisubmarine warfare helicopters” fitted with torpedoes, he said.
Part of the modernization program was to acquire missiles and torpedoes and craft new doctrines and protocols, Empedrad said.
Modernization, he said, required parallel preparations for personnel, equipment and support upgrade.
He said, however, that these would need a lot of funds.
A missile-capable frigate was worth P8 billion each while helicopters armed with torpedoes cost P2.75 billion each.
“We are talking of billions worth of equipment that would only go to waste if we don’t prepare,” Empedrad said.
A surface-to-air missile costs P10 million while torpedoes and huge surface-to-surface missiles cost P100 million each, the Navy chief said.
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