Ruffy Biazon’s dream come true: Visit to a subBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—“It’s something that we can only dream about.”
Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon gushed on Friday after paying a visit to the USS North Carolina, an attack submarine currently docked at Subic Bay, Zambales.
Biazon said he boarded the sub at around 8:30 a.m. and was given a tour by an officer for an hour. He said his visit was not related to his job as customs chief.
“I just made a side visit. No customs matter was involved. But they accommodated my visit as a courtesy to my being the customs commissioner,” Biazon said.
Biazon also disputed claims that the sub was armed with atomic missiles, saying the USS North Carolina was nuclear-powered but did not have nuclear weapons.
“I was able to visit the torpedo room, where the torpedoes are. Only conventional weapons are there. This type of submarine is an attack submarine, generally used for patrol and antiship warfare. They don’t use nuclear weapons. The ones with nuclear weapons are the missile submarines,” he said.
Like other visitors, however, the commissioner said he was not allowed to take pictures.
Biazon said he was told by officers and crew he spoke with that the submarine’s visit was just a port call or courtesy visit. “They’re on a routine port call to replenish supplies,” he said.
Biazon said the sub was “quite impressive [as it] is one of the latest models.”
He said the Virginia-class submarines to which the USS North Carolina belongs were among the first subs to dispense with the traditional periscope.
“You won’t hear a commander say, ‘Up/down periscope!’ They use video cameras already and monitor through the screens. The camera is controlled by a joystick,” he said.
Biazon said he was impressed by the state-of-the-art technology employed at the USS North Carolina.
“I was impressed that the sub can stay underwater for as long as six months. [It has] technological sophistication. They can produce their own air, produce their own water. The level of technology is really high,” he added.
Biazon said the crew would not answer further questions about the submarines’ capabilities, saying such information were classified.
“I am quite interested because when I was in Congress [my] focus was defense security. I was part of the House committee on defense.”
Biazon said he was told that the submarine crew, after finishing supply replenishment and maintenance of shipboard systems, also disembarked for some R and R (rest and recreation). “They usually go out to sea for months so they need to rest,” he said.
The submarine is scheduled to depart on Saturday.