Nuclear-powered ‘fast-attack’ US submarine docks in SubicBy Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines—A Virginia class fast attack submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777), one of the “stealthiest, most technologically advanced” nuclear-powered submarines in the world, arrived at Subic Bay Monday (Sunday US time) for a port visit, the United States Navy said.
This came amid tensions between China and Philippines disputing over Scarborough Shoal, located 124 nautical miles off Zambales.
Lieutenant Lara Bollinger, Submarine Group 7 Public Affairs of United States Navy, said that it was part of its Western Pacific deployment.
The North Carolina has a crew of 133, and has conducted “a series of missions showcasing the latest capabilities of the submarine force.”
“The crew is proud of our recent contributions as part of our country’s commitment to maintaining freedom of navigation, peace and stability in the region,” said Cmdr. Richard Rhinehart, North Carolina’s commanding officer in a statement.
“Everyone is looking forward to some good liberty, rest and relaxation during our port visit here in Subic Bay,” said chief of the boat, master chief Jon Consford. “The crew has worked hard and developed tremendously as a team over the last five and a half months. I could not be prouder to have had the chance to serve with some of the finest Sailors our nation has sent to sea.”
North Carolina was described as “the fourth submarine in the Virginia class, the Navy’s newest class of submarine and the first ship designed for the post Cold-War environment.”
“She is designed to operate with stealth, agility and endurance in the world’s littoral regions, as well as the deep oceans. During this maiden deployment, her crew provided the value of the ship and their training by completing a wide variety of missions assigned by their operational commande,” Bollinger said.
Homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, North Carolina measures more than 350 feet long and weighing more than 7,800 tons when submerged.
“She brings to the region the capability to conduct the full spectrum of potential submarine missions including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and mine warfare,” she added.
Meanwhile, Philippine Navy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Omar Tonsay said that the visit has nothing to do with the ongoing standoff in Scarborough.
“Walang kinalaman yan, yun nga inuulit namin, the Philippines stands in the crossroads of a major oceanic sealane yan eh, so talagang geographic ang location natin, dadaanan at dadaanan tayo ng mga barko, that includes them (It has nothing to do with this, that’s what we’re trying to point out again and again. Our location is geographic so ships will pass us by),” Tonsay said.