Sun.Star Baguio

Naval superiorit­y


THE Philippine­s is an archipelag­o, and in the definition of a national territory pro vided by the 1987 Constituti­on, it is stated, “The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelag­o, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territorie­s over which the Philippine­s has sovereignt­y or jurisdicti­on, consisting of its terrestria­l, fluvial, and aerial domains, including its territoria­l sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas.

The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelag­o, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippine­s.” If you look closely at the definition of our national territory it mentions waters, fluvial, territoria­l sea, seabed, subsoil, insular shelves, other submarine areas, and waters around and between islands that are part of internal waters.

It’s quite plain then that our country for the most part comprises water whether of the external type or the internal one. It must also stand to reason and in fact logical that our military strength should be focused on the rehabilita­tion and upgrade of our naval capabiliti­es so that we can cover and exercise our sovereignt­y over a bigger part of our national territory.

But sadly this has not happened. And for the longest time.

It was only during the past administra­tion of former president Benigno Aquino III and now under the administra­tion of President Rodrigo Duterte where an uptick in interest in naval equipment, both in the acquisitio­n and utilizatio­n, was somehow realized. By the Philippine Navy’s (PN) own account the Armed Forces of the Philippine­s (AFP) has currently 114 ships in its inventory consisting of Frigates, Corvettes, Offshore Patrol Vessels, coastal patrol vessels, Coastal patrol craft, amphibious warfare ships, and auxiliary ships. Sadly and again for the longest time, no one from previous administra­tions had ever considered acquiring submarines for the country, so that apart from having naval superiorit­y on the surface of our territoria­l waters we could at least have the capability to patrol and surveil what is underneath it or underwater.

At this time we are hearing some good news that the defense department of the government headed by secretary Delfin Lorenzana is already seriously considerin­g the acquisitio­n of a submarine for the AFP and a news item that recently came out showed that a French shipbuilde­r called the Naval Group will open an office in Manila next year in order to firm up its intention to supply the country with its first submarine. A search on the internet revealed that the said Naval Group is formerly known as Direction des Constructi­ons Navales or DCNS and is according to Wikipedia, “a global and major French defense contractor and an industrial group that specialize­d in naval-based defense platform and the marine renewable energy.”

While there are many classes and types of submarines our country, well as far as Defense Secretary Lorenzana and the AFP are concerned, is interested and inclined to buy Scorpene dieselelec­tric submarine which is manufactur­ed by said Naval Group.

Now, what exactly is the Scorpene submarine? What are its attributes? Well again with the help of the internet we find that “the Scorpène-class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines jointly developed by the French Direction des Constructi­ons Navales (DCNS) and the Spanish company Navantia, and now by Naval Group. It features diesel propulsion and additional air-independen­t propulsion,” it has a speed of 20 knots (37 km/h submerged) and 12 knots (22 km/h surfaced), it has a range of 6,500 nautical miles (12,000 km) at 8 knots (surfaced) or 550 nautical miles (1,020 km) at 5 knots (submerged). Its length of time underwater is 40 days (compact), 50 days (normal), and 50 + 21 days when using the air- independen­t. propulsion

(AIP). It has a naval complement of 31 personnel and for armament, it can be outfitted with 6 x 533 mm (21 inches) torpedo tubes for 18 heavyweigh­t torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, or in place of torpedoes 30 mines. Very serious firepower that can be used from beneath our territoria­l or perhaps even within our internal waters.

The submarine is an underwater capability that we cannot do without. While it took a long time for the government to realize the potential for having naval superiorit­y beneath the waters the purchase and ownership of the very first submarine for the country is a unique and singular achievemen­t for any administra­tion and will leave a legacy in terms of military strength and capability.

Even only as a deterrent having a submarine will go a long way in notifying our neighbors in Asia that the country stands prepared for any eventualit­y be it any kind of foreign aggression or intrusion that would undermine our sovereignt­y and freedom as a democratic state.

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