SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — French manufacturer Naval Group will help the Philippine Navy develop its Naval Operating Base in Subic Bay at the former Hanjin Shipyard into a modern facility capable of handling submarine operations if it bags the contract for the Navy's Submarine Acquisition Project.
This proposal includes development of docks capable of handling more than two submarines and surface ships, operation zones for a naval squadron command center, maintenance yards and logistics depots, and the Philippine Submarine Force Training Center that includes classrooms and simulators.
Earlier this year, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. showed strong support in acquiring the country's first combat-capable submarines.
Mr. Marcos also told the media that the Navy is currently developing its anti-submarine capabilities before acquiring sophisticated underwater ships.
Naval Group is currently leading the Submarine Acquisition Program of the Philippine Navy with its offer to supply 2 diesel-electric attack submarines based on the Scorpene-class.
Aside from the other proposals, it was confirmed that the French manufacturer will also include training the pioneer submarine Filipino crews in France and cross-training them with the French Navy's Submarine Command, transfer of technology specifically for maintenance, and providing a long-term government-to-government soft loan up to 20 years to pay, with options for several more submarines in the long run.
France has been boosting its defense relations with the Philippines lately, with a Defense Attache expected to be sent to Manila soon after many years of absence, French observation of Multilateral military exercises by the Philippines with its allies and security partners, offer for Philippines to participate in French military exercises in its enclaves in the Pacific, visits by French ships, and other activities.
The European country is also one of the supporters of the Philippines' stand in the West Philippine Sea, which is against China's illegal claims and aggressive behavior of its People's Liberation Army, China Coast Guard and Chinese Maritime Militia in the region.