-US Navy returns to Subic --- for a visit
SUBIC, Dec 1 - A US nuclear submarine arrived at a former American
naval base here Wednesday, the first time a US navy warship docked
since the facility was turned over to the Philippines in 1992.
However Captain Dick Corpus, the ethnic Filipino chief of staff of
the USS Santa Fe said the five-day stay of the ship in Subic was
strictly for rest and recreation before the departing for the home
port of Pearl Harbor on Sunday.
The submarine's commander, Captain Louis David Marquet told local
reporters that although it was a routine visit, he would meet a
counterpart in the Philippine navy to "see if we can teach them some
things that we know and learn some things from the Philippines."
Marquet said his crew had strict orders not to misbehave during
their stay here.
Asked if the visit may have some impact on the dispute over the
Spratly islands in the South China Sea, Corpus said he could not
comment on the issue except to say, "we hope that the issue is
Subic Bay was once the largest US military base overseas.
However in 1991, the Philippine Senate terminated the US lease and
Subic was turned over to Manila in 1992.
Subic has since been transformed into a Freeport, light industrial
center and tourist resort.
The Philippines and the United States are still bound by a mutual
defense treaty and the Philippines has been seeking US help to
modernize its poorly-equipped military.
- The Filipino-American Chief of
Staff of the Commander Submarine Group of Seven on port call here was
impressed with the improvements being done on the various facilities
of the former military base.
Formerly the Subic Bay Naval Base, the Freeport has been
successfully converted as the country's first Freeport, economic,
industrial, and tourism hub.
"I was so ecstatic to see former military barracks converted
into a first-class hotel where I decided to spend my five-day visit
here," US Naval Captain Dick Corpus, the only senior Fil-Am officer
in the Submarine Group of 7 consisting of a fleet of 25 submarines,
told reporters here.
He added that he was extremely amused to see several military
buildings and warehouses transformed into manufacturing plants,
commercial banks and tourism-related businesses ventures such as
duty-free stores and restaurants.
The USS Santa Fe, an American Navy nuclear-powered submarine,
docked in the port of Subic last Wednesday to allow its 120 officers
and men for a rest and recreation for five days.
Subic Bay is USS Santa Fe's last stop before she heads back to
her home port, the Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It arrived here from a
six-month deployment around the Gulf area in the Middle East.
Capt. David Marquett, commanding officer of the USS Santa Fe,
told reporters during a press conference held at the lower deck of
the submarine, that the visit of the American Navy is not strictly
for rest and recreation purposes.
It is also meant, he said, to establish good relations with
freeport authorities and officials of local communities.
"We would like to establish a continuing interaction and
cultural exchange between US servicemen and the communities around
the area of the Freeport, particularly those Aeta tribesmen where we
can extend assistance to them," Marquett said.
--from the PNA newswire-------------
note: Dick Corpuz is a former submarine skipper
Nestor Palugod Enriquez