MANILA—A retired US Navy official said Washington should collaborate with a private American firm to assist debt-laden Hanjin shipyard in Subic.
Retired US Navy Capt. Brian Buzzel said at least one US company is seriously interested in acquiring the facility and noted that the Chinese companies seeking to buy it have raised a red flag on the Philippine’s national security.
“The confluence of all these factors gives the US Navy a perfect opportunity to return to Subic Bay, except this time as an equal partner respecting the laws and sovereignty of the Philippines and benefiting the Filipino people and economy,” he said in an article published by the US Naval Institute Journal this month.
“It also would send a strong message to Beijing that, despite its efforts, the alliance between the United States and the Philippines is strong and unbreakable.”
In January, Hanjin Philippines filed for court rehabilitation proceedings as it grappled with a slump in the global shipping and shipbuilding industry.
Buzzel, who served as the US Navy’s political-military officer in the Philippines from 1991 to 1992, said US authorities must immediately inform Manila of their interest in the shipyard.
“The Philippine government needs to indicate it is willing to enter into a public-public-private partnership with the United States,” he said.
Buzzel said the Navy “needs to gauge the interest of US private shipbuilders in a public-private partnership to run Hanjin, including committing to sending work there.”
“The party with the most to lose in a US return to Subic will be the Chinese. And they know it,” he said.
Subic Bay, located in Zambales, was the largest overseas naval facility of the US military until 1992.