PH Navy eyes Hanjin's Subic shipyard as submarine base

By Priam Nepomuceno

January 21, 2020, 4:02 pm

<p>Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command, Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad. <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Philippine Navy flag-officer-in-command, Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad. (File photo)

MANILA -- The Philippine Navy (PN) plans to construct the base of its proposed submarine arm inside the facility of the cash-strapped Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction (HHIC-Phils) in Subic Bay, Zambales.

Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, PN flag-officer-in-command, made this remark when asked on possible locations that can house the Navy's submarines once the acquisition of these vessels goes into high gear.

"Once there's a contract, the buyout is completed, then we will (use part of the site of) Hanjin to provide housing for our submarines. We can construct finger pier(s) for our submarines (to tie-up) and the (depth of) water there (is sufficient) to accommodate our submarines," Empedrad said in Filipino.

The PN is looking to acquire two diesel-electric submarine units as part of its efforts to modernize its fleet.

The Scorpene, which is being constructed by French defense manufacturer, Naval Group, is said to be high on the list of preferred submarine platforms of the country and was evaluated by naval and defense officials last year.

"We will also develop Sangley Point (in Cavite City) for alternate housing of our submarines," the PN chief added.

Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government could use the Hanjin facilities to house and repair large Philippine Navy ships while waiting for interested parties or partners from the shipbuilding sector.

HHIC-Phils earlier revealed that it has a total of USD1.3 billion outstanding loans -- USD400 million from Philippine banks and USD900 million from South Korean lenders.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said HHIC-Phil filed on Jan. 8, 2019, a petition at the Regional Trial Court in Olongapo City "to initiate voluntary rehabilitation under Republic Act 10142, otherwise known as An Act Providing for the Rehabilitation or Liquidation of Financially Distressed Enterprises and Individuals".

The shipbuilder has sought help from the government to find investors that can take over the operation of its shipyard in Subic, as well as to help its employees, who have taken the brunt of the company's financial woes.

In December 2018, the company laid off more than 7,000 workers. (PNA)