Story by JONAS REYES | Photo by JUN DUMAGUING
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Subic Bay Freeport may be a lot of things to a lot of people, but is certain of one thing–a great place for rest and relaxation.
This comes no less than from visiting Japanese Naval Fleet Commander Atsushi Minami, who expressed the overall pleasure of the crew members of the “JS Inazuma” and “JS Suzutsuki” in Subic as their current site for R n’ R (rest and recreation).
“This is my first time in Subic. Subic is a very big port and the quality of life here is very good,” Minami said.
During their three-day port visit, the commander of the Escort Division Four of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the 360 crewmembers (160 JS Inazuma crewmembers, 200 JS Suzutsuki crewmembers) of the two ships toured the area and found great food here.
“I have tried a stew that is salty—is it adobo? It was very delicious,” Minami said. The commander and his entourage also went out for some seafood at one of the local restaurants in Subic Freeport.
“We had a very nice dinner last night at the Seafood by the Bay. In Tokyo, fresh seafood is very, very expensive. Here, we enjoyed the fresh red snapper (Maya-maya) and trout,” he added.
When asked about making routine port calls here, the commander pointed out that the JDMSF would like to have more port visits not only in Subic, but in Manila. “But the details and schedule haven’t been decided yet.”
Views on Russia
When asked about the port visit of the Russian Navy in Manila, the commander replied: “Interesting.”
Minami said that the Japanese and Russian navies had previously cooperated in regional security, like the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden that they jointly conducted.
He added that the Japanese navy has also cooperated in similar anti-piracy efforts with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, the US Navy, Royal Navy, Indian Navy, and Pakistani Navy. “Naval ships from other countries cooperated with each other for the same purpose of countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden,” he said.
Value of PH
The commander also pointed out that the Philippine port visit is very important for Japan in terms of having interaction with the Philippine Navy, aside from promoting “Freedom of Navigation” in the South China Sea.
“This is also due to Japan Defense Minister’s agreement with the Philippines to enhance disaster management operations and humanitarian operations since both countries are hit hard by typhoons,” Minami added.
PHOTO: The Murasame-class destroyer JS Inazuma (JS 105) of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense approaches the Alava Pier of the Subic Bay Freeport on January 4 for a routine port call.