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1

Wednesday, March 22nd 2017, 10:04pm

Philippine News and Events, 1948

The Philippine Herald, Thursday, 1 January 1948

The arrival of the New Year heralds further growth in the Philippine Navy, the shield that protects the nation from aggressors. In the Manila dockyards the light cruiser Benguet is to be laid down, while no fewer than nine other vessels will also begin construction, including specialist ships to counter the threat of undersea raiders. The need for such vessels has long been established, and at last the Senate has moved forward with their construction.


The Freeman (Cebu), Sunday, 4 January 1948


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Tuesday, March 28th 2017, 8:22pm

The Malacañan Palace, Wednesday, 7 January 1948

Two pads worth of notes lay before Ramon Magsaysay as he worked late into the night to develop a scheme of coast defense that could be effective and yet one his country could afford. The threat of Chinese aggression was foremost in his mind; thanks to an expensive campaign of purchasing abroad its navy was far larger – on paper – than that of the Philippines; conventional wisdom held that quality could overcome quantity – but Magsaysay could not accept that uncritically. The fleet could not be everywhere at once – and the manpower available to the Chinese meant that they only needed one opportunity to get their troops ashore.

The many islands that made up the Philippine archipelago represented an aggregate of shoreline beyond conventional defense; minefields could defend some places, and fixed defenses already covered the most obvious approaches. There were many choke-points through which an invaded had to pass, and at great expense some of these were already defended. Others, while narrow, could not be protected – islands for gun emplacements were not where they were needed.

In the Kalayaan Islands sufficient shoals existed that by dint of dredging small islets could be created; at Scarborough Shoals a permanent observation station had been built. Could something similar be employed to extend the reach of coastal guns? This was the conundrum he faced. He picked up another file and opened it – finding some faded press clippings and a terse type-written report.

“Shoreham Towers” it read. In the Great War the British Admiralty had considered building huge reinforced concrete rafts bearing antisubmarine nets with which to close the Straits of Dover against German raiders. These rafts would mount guns, searchlights, and submarine detection equipment. The Great War had ended before much progress on the Admiralty ‘M-N Scheme’ had been effected. But the paper, written by the designer employed on the project, contained sufficient information to work out how it had been intended to operate.

And the germ of an idea formed in Magsaysay’s mind.

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Sunday, April 2nd 2017, 12:50am

The Manila Times, Friday, 9 January 1948


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Saturday, April 8th 2017, 12:17am

Finsbury Circus, The City of London, Friday, 16 January 1948

Guy Maunsell pondered the letter that had arrived in the morning’s post. It was from the Philippine legation on Suffolk Street, and inquired whether he might be willing to accept an offer to serve as a consultant for the Philippines in certain matters of coastal defense. He knew, of course, of the massive engineering efforts under way in that nation to fortify the Spratly Islands – or, as the press spoke of it – to improve aids to navigation by sea and air. They were not overly forthcoming with details of the work, but sought a personal interview with him on the subject; and they also hinted at considerable remuneration should he accept. All things considered though, he would speak to a friend at the Foreign Office before answering; no need to upset the Government through ignorance.


Naval Operating Base Cavite, Sunday, 18 January 1948

Telan Ting knew that he was living on borrowed time, but his paymasters had doubled their promises of financial reward if he stayed at his post to inform them of the continued progress of the Philippine Navy’s submarine program. The newly operational Ciquera lay at her berth at the Submarine Dock, preparing to go to sea on her first patrol. He took out the small camera his Chinese contact had provided to him and quickly snapped several photographs, praying all the while that no one would see him.

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Thursday, April 13th 2017, 8:22pm

The Philippine Embassy, 6-8 Suffolk Street, London, Thursday, 22 January 1948

Having made discrete inquiries to the Foreign Office and elicited no objections, Guy Maunsell had contacted the Philippine embassy in response to their inquiry; in turn, they had asked him to visit the embassy to further discuss the nature of their proposal. Thus it was that he found himself seated with Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala, the ambassador of the Philippines to the Court of St. James’s and with Ramon Magsaysay; after the formal introductions, Don Jaime excused himself and left Maunsell with the Defense Minister’s assistant.

“If you do not mind my inquiring,” said Maunsell, “what is all this cloak-and-dagger business about?”

Magsaysay smiled. “Interesting that you put it that way Mister Maunsell – for my country, this is very serious business.” He slid several papers across the table. “I am certain you remember this project…”

Maunsell scanned the items, and recognized his own proposals to the Admiralty more than thirty years ago. “The ‘M-N Scheme’?” he harrumphed. “The brass hats said it was too expensive and too time consuming.”

“Perhaps,” Magsaysay replied, “but my Government is interested in a scheme not unlike what your proposed, and wishes to employ you as a consultant to improve the defense of our coastal waters against possible enemies.”

“You mean the Chinese,” was Maunsell’s response.

“Their aggressive tendencies have brought them into two conflicts within the last decade,” Magsaysay acknowledged. “My country wishes to be prepared should they seek a third.”

Their followed some hard discussions regarding the possible scope of the ‘consulting work’ and the remuneration of Maunsell’s efforts, depending in large part on the length of time and scale of the effort. In the end, the Briton agreed to conduct an initial survey of the situation in the Philippines and to submit a list of potential options; depending upon the outcome of this initial phase, his work might expand.

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Thursday, April 20th 2017, 2:38am

Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan, Monday, 26 January 1948

Newly frocked Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Ilustrisimo considered that for only two months of existence the Scout Ranger Regiment was coming along well enough – but he knew that far more work had to be done before he could even consider committing his men to any sort of action. Most of them had basic knowledge of eskrima – the art of fighting with sticks and knives – and he had recruited his best men from the back-streets of Cebu City himself. But fighting was but one aspect of the Scout Ranger – he had to be stealthy, observant, and unobtrusive if necessary; and there were other skills – to operate radios, to plant demolitions, to use modern weapons – that came slowly to many of the recruits. Most importantly, Ilustrisimo needed his men to think, to trust their comrades, and to be willing to sacrifice. These qualities were the most difficult to attain and the hardest to measure.

He watched as his recruits ran the obstacle course he had created for them – rope climbs, wall climbs, horizontal ladders across pools of muddy water. No one would be washed out of the regiment for a failure of such tasks, but rather be encouraged to try again or be taught a better technique. He had begun with four hundred recruits; he still had three hundred fifty – the remainder having voluntarily withdrawn. But time was not on his side – the word was that he would need some of his men ready for their first mission by spring.

7

Monday, April 24th 2017, 1:00am

Gatwick Aerodrome, London, Thursday, 29 January 1948

The BOAC Hermes thundered down the runway and lurched into the air, its engines clawing for altitude. Guy Maunsell regretted that the new Bristol Britannias were confined, for the moment, to the trans-Atlantic routes. But his mission to the Philippines was now under way, and when the aircraft reached its flight level and the cabin staff began to circulate he took out his copy of Fodor’s Guide to the Orient, and began to study the country to which he was travelling. His flight would take him to Singapore via Cairo, with a succession of intermediate stops – at Singapore he would transfer to a Philippine aircraft for the final leg of his journey. His mind began to wander, wrestling with the possibilities of solutions to his client’s problems.


Submarine Ciquera, off Hainan, Saturday, 31 January 1948

On her first patrol the recently commissioned Ciquera stood off the port of Yazhou, monitoring the naval and commercial traffic entering and departing. Most sightings were of fishing boats, but the comings and goings of small patrol craft of the Imperial Chinese Navy required more attention. These were the craft that might discover the submarine’s presence; her commander kept the submarine at periscope depth, while the boat barely made way while operating on her electric motors. After nightfall they would move to seaward, surface, and recharge their batteries. Their mission was filled with tension, for any misstep might bring disaster.

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Thursday, May 4th 2017, 2:48am

Philippine News and Events, February 1948

Naval Operating Base Cavite, Monday, 2 February 1948

Kapitein-luitenant ter Zee Eugène Lacomblé riffled through the notes he had made during his most recent tour of Mindanao and sought to organize them before drafting his latest report to Batavia. An invitation to attend the ceremonies marking the completion of the submarines Columbina and Chen at the Butuan naval dockyard had been a useful excuse to make an in-depth report on that busy facility. No fewer than eight of the Philippine Navy’s latest class of destroyers were under construction there – two nearing completion, two afloat while under construction, two preparing for launching in a few days, and two with keels newly laid. Like a well-oiled machine the shipyard was able to provide ship after ship to strengthen his host’s fleet. The Butuan dockyard not only built submarines and destroyers, but it was completing the last of eight minelayers and gearing up for the mass-production of the new Descubierta-class antisubmarine gunboats. In his notes were all the particulars of these vessels, which he hoped his superiors in Batavia would appreciate.

On his return trip to Manila he had squeezed in a layover in Cebu, and was fortunate enough to obtain a tour of the shipyard at San Fernando. Smaller in size and less capable that the Butuan yard, the San Fernando facility was also quite busy – it was in the process of finishing a series of small tenders and its slipways held two of the new Alcotan-class antisubmarine escorts.


Manila, Nichols Field, Wednesday, 4 February 1948

It was early evening when the Philippine Air Lines Douglas DC-4 touched down and taxied toward the terminal. The flight from Singapore had been half-empty, and Guy Maunsell took the opportunity to stretch his legs before deplaning. He made his way to the customs shed to await delivery of his luggage and found himself greeted by several officers of the Philippine Army.

“Welcome to Manila Mister Maunsell,” said the senior, “we have a car waiting for you.” His passport was hastily stamped, and his arrival duly authorized. The ride to the Admiral Hotel on Cavite Boulevard was swift and when the car drew up in the porte-cochère his escorts guided him into the lobby with great deference. Tomorrow, they had explained, they would call for him to attend a late-morning meeting at the Malacañan Palace; this evening though, would be an opportunity to unwind from his trip and rest. The Briton felt he quite needed it.

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Saturday, May 6th 2017, 11:36pm

Naval Air Station Cavite, Monday, 9 February 1948

After several days of meetings with Philippine officials to determine the actual intent of their desires for improved coastal defenses, Guy Maunsell found himself at the Philippine Navy’s principal aerodrome to begin a tour of inspection – one predicted to last several days at least. His clients were certainly not skimping on things – he would be departing on one of the Philippine Navy’s recently-delivered Beriev Be-4 amphibians – a sleek twin-turboprop of Russian manufacture. And, to his delight, he found the aircraft fitted out in luxurious state. As he was accompanied by only two Philippine officials, a Mister Estanislao and a Mister Navarrete, there was plenty of room in the passenger cabin to spread out maps, plans, and notebooks, which would soon be filled.

Settling back once the aircraft had taken off Maunsell pulled out the report he had been provided regarding the Batan Islands – their first destination. His companions spoke quietly to each other, eschewing small talk – though they were responsive to his questions, as they arose. He gathered that Estanislao was something of a ‘fixer’ – someone who could pull enough strings to help him get whatever information was required by circumstances. Navarrete was more difficult to read – but Maunsell was forming the impression that if trouble was encountered, the man was one to have by your side.


The Bohol Chronicle, Wednesday, 11 February 1948

The recently completed minelayers Cagayancilo and San Vicente have completed their operational training and begun operations with the Central Fleet.

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Thursday, May 11th 2017, 1:27am

The Daily Guardian (Iloilo), Friday, 13 February 1948

The naval shipyard at Butuan was a hive of activity today as work was completed on the minelayers Caloocan and San Pablo, while elsewhere in the yard the escort destroyers Malabacat and Morong slid down the ways and were towed to the yard’s fitting-out wharf, where work on them will continue.


Scarborough Station, Sunday, 15 February 1948

Guy Maunsell’s brief to recommend improved coast defenses for the Philippine authorities did not officially extend to the electronic listening post of Scarborough Station. He had asked for the opportunity to inspect it in order to assess the ability of the Philippines to undertake large-scale construction projects. His hosts had laid on a destroyer to transport him thence from the Batan Islands – little more than a day’s steaming – and he had to admit that he was very impressed. Perched upon tall concrete pillars the steelwork of the station itself was well-constructed, and the facilities quite capable of fulfilling their function, even if accommodations were rather spartan. He was not permitted to take photographs, but made mental notes for future referral to the Admiralty – no doubt they would like to know more about this radar station. Maunsell noted that construction was underway for a subsidiary platform further along the reef; when asked his hosts advised that it was hoped to base a number of motor torpedo boats at the station for its own defense; so much electronic equipment was crammed onto the station it was hardly possible to mount guns on it. This set his mind to work…

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Tuesday, May 23rd 2017, 12:17am

Balintawak, Manila, Thursday, 19 February 1948

Andreas Soriano slammed his fist on his desk and swore. “We cannot have a repeat of the Lagonoy Affair!”

The memorandum before him reported that the Navy was considering the disposal of the small aircraft carrier Linguyen; she had been built in the days of SATSUMA, a prototype for a series of small, cheap vessels that would provide air support for an invasion of the Dutch East Indies. That concept had fallen in the face of the differences between the Philippines and China that had led to the South China Sea War. For years the ship had served to train generations of Philippine Navy Air Service pilots in carrier takeoffs and landings; but now her small size prevented her from handling the newer, heavier, aircraft.

Calming himself, Soriano re-read the memorandum and had to agree with its conclusions – the ship added little to the national defense, was too small to continue in the training role, was a drain on resources desperately needed on more modern ships – but to sell her abroad? The Senate would never agree. The revelation that the Lagonoy – sold to South Africa ostensibly for further service ended up in Chinese hands – had nearly brought down the Government.

That had to be avoided at all costs.

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Tuesday, May 23rd 2017, 1:58am

Well, they should sell it to a reliable nation that does not sell any ships like Japan. :) Japan bought the Indian submarine Sangadila, the Indian cruisers Hyderabad and Bangalore and the Chosen carrier Chosen and they are still in service of the Japanese navy and not sold on to some other nation (and they never will).

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Tuesday, May 23rd 2017, 3:12am

Well, they should sell it to a reliable nation that does not sell any ships like Japan. :) Japan bought the Indian submarine Sangadila, the Indian cruisers Hyderabad and Bangalore and the Chosen carrier Chosen and they are still in service of the Japanese navy and not sold on to some other nation (and they never will).


You are making an offer? :whistling:

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Tuesday, May 23rd 2017, 9:57am

Looking over her specs, Linguyen doesn't seem too bad and is still relatively young. Length is an issue.
I guess an alternative would be a 75% rebuild and add a hull section perhaps to extend her length and hangar space. Not sure why bulges are fitted in the original design, but these could be altered easily to regain stability too.
OOC there are not many IC nations anyway so any kind of sale seems remote. Also the market probably isn't there, even for NPC nations who have either built or are building their own carriers.

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Today, 8:31pm

Itu Aba Island, Wednesday, 25 February 1948

The Beriev turboprop glided out of the sky and came to rest on the busy airstrip. Guy Maunsell had not expected to visit the Spratly Islands, as they were demilitarized under the terms of the Treaty of Saigon. However, his hosts had expanded the scope of his remit by explaining that they wished to have a contingency plan in hand should the treaty be abrogated by any of the signatories. And Maunsell noted that the Philippine authorities had pushed the limits of the envelope in constructing a string of ‘navigational aids’, ‘weather posts’, and ‘fishing stations’ throughout the archipelago; most were manned by civilians or paramilitaries of the Constabulary; but the presence of the Philippine military was definite if unspoken.

He was aware that several dredges were at work to expand the area of some of the islands and shoals that made up the Spratly, but Itu Aba was the only one which offered even the hope of constructing fixed defenses. Indeed, the Chinese, when they had occupied it, made every effort to do so – with some success – though of course their work had been demolished under the terms of the treaty when they had departed. He noted that some preliminary work had been done to clear away the debris left behind – and that survey work was being performed at places where he would put gun batteries if he were in charge. He did not inquire further at the moment.

The work done in here, like the work done in at Scarborough Shoals, convinced him that the Philippines had the knowledge and skills to work out the solution that was forming in his brain. The concrete caisson work had suggested it; selling the idea would be difficult. I mean, who would believe it possible to construct a floating fortress out of concrete?