PHL Navy chief wants to fast-track submarine acquisition program

Philippine Navy (PN) flag officer-in-command, Vice Admiral Robert Empedrad, said he fully supports all plans that would enable the country to acquire its first diesel-electric submarines as soon as possible.

“It’s my intention to support this project. Like what I said before the Senate [frigate] hearing [in February], the trend now is submarine warfare because it’s very hard to find [and destroy] an enemy that you can’t see,” Empedrad said in Filipino during an interview with the military-run DWDD radio on Wednesday.

He noted that in undersea warfare, it is very difficult to fight an opponent one cannot see or detect due to its ability to go underwater.

The PN is expected to acquire its first diesel-electric submarines during Horizon Three of the Revised Armed Forces of the Philippines Modernization Program that will be implemented in 2023 to 2028.

In line with this program, Empedrad said the PN has already created a Submarine Group that is now sending Navy personnel for training on submarine operations in preparation for the country’s eventual acquisition of the several naval craft.

He added that this is necessary as submarine acquisition, including building the vessel, training, and support facilities, often takes seven to 10 years.

The PN chief added that the decision to acquire submarines for the Philippine military is bolstered by a recent conference he attended in London, where more modern navies are shown building up their submarine fleet and anti-submarine capabilities. PNA