Indonesian accident no reason to scrap Philippineâs submarine acquisition
An Indonesia Navy ship sets off from the Tanjungwangi port near the naval base in Banyuwangi, East Java province on April 25, 2021, as the military continues the search off the coast of neighbouring Bali island for the navy's KRI Nanggala submarine that went missing April 21 during a training exercise.
AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Indonesian accident no reason to scrap Philippine’s submarine acquisition

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - May 17, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The recent tragic loss of an Indonesian submarine, killing all 53 of its crew, should not erode the Philippines’ plan to acquire three submarines, a Mindanao lawmaker said yesterday.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said the Philippine Navy’s plan to obtain three Scorpene-class submarines from France should push through, especially at this time when tensions are running high in the West Philippine Sea with Chinese ships swarming the area.

“The attack submarines that our Navy intends to procure will be particularly helpful in protecting our maritime domain in the deeper waters of the West Philippine Sea,” Pimentel, chairperson of the House strategic intelligence committee, said.

“They can stealthily conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations against unwelcome Chinese maritime militia vessels,” he added.

Pimentel pointed out that Manila is “not just a coastal state like Vietnam and Malaysia,” which ironically “have their own submarines.”

“We are in fact one of the world’s largest archipelagic states, just like Indonesia,” he stressed. “We are completely surrounded by waters, so submarines should form part of our mix of defensive combat ships.”

The submarines are capable of anti-surface vessel warfare, anti-submarine warfare, long-range strikes as well as special operations and intelligence gathering. They will be equipped with torpedoes, missiles and mines.

“We welcome France’s commitment to help our Navy develop a submarine force,” he said.

The submarines are on top of the 16 surface warships – four frigates and 12 corvettes – that the Philippine Navy has lined up for acquisition between now and 2028.

Pimentel said the Indonesian submarine that sank with its 53 personnel in the Bali Sea during a torpedo drill was 42 years old and had been refurbished several times.

“It was quite old and vulnerable,” Pimentel said, referring to KRI Nanggala 402 that was reported missing on April 21 and later found split into three on the seabed.

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