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Tuesday, June 27th 2017, 4:32am

Or, more mundanely, it might have just been good behavior analysis. The Filipinos have been fairly regular at shedding older vessels, and this vessel is an example in kind.


Thursday, June 29th 2017, 9:05pm

Balintawak, Manila, Wednesday, 10 March 1948

Don Andreas set his cup of coffee back on the table. “Would not the sale of the Linguyen to Japan solve the problem of what to do with a vessel the Navy no longer needs?” He directed the question to his guest, the Minister of Defense.

“Yes,” De la Vega said with hesitation, “but the Lagonoy… we were confident that the South Africans would not transfer her to China. How can we be certain that Japan would not do the same?”

“We cannot be certain,” replied the senator. “In all politics there is an element of risk. We misjudged the perfidy of the South Africans, and we will never to do again. But with Japan there are more elements in play. Consider the recently concluded conflict between China and Chosen – with whom did Japan side?” Soriano’s question was rhetorical, and needed no answer.

“As weak as China may be at sea compared with Japan its sheer size and resource base dwarfs Japan; if China ever received a government worthy of the name it would – in time- challenge the world. It is in Japan’s interest to assure China remains distracted from such a course by assisting by one means or another nations that might provide such distractions. Chosen is one; we are another.”

De la Vega took a moment to digest these thoughts. “Having freed ourselves from Japan’s strings are we then to willingly reattach them?” He referred of course to the withdrawal from the SATSUMA alliance.

“By no means,” the elder statesman assured him. “Certainly Japan would like us to look more favorably upon them; but we should make clear that any transfer of the Linguyen is strictly a commercial transaction with no explicit or implicit quid pro quo.”

“Even if we were to proceed on that basis, the Senate…” De la Vega countered.

“Leave that to me,” Soriano smiled. “I believe that they can be convinced to see reason.”


Thursday, July 6th 2017, 4:38pm

Balintawak, Manila, Saturday, 13 March 1948

Don Andreas Soriano was pleased thus far with his efforts to shepherd the proposed sale of the small aircraft carrier Linguyen through the Senate. His hold on Don Pedro Teves and his ultra-nationalists remained strong, and the other factions of the right had also fallen into line. His ally, Don Manolo Elizalde, had swung much of the press behind the idea – indeed, the day’s edition of the Manila Times offered an eloquent editorial in favor of the sale. If public opinion could be convinced that the Linguyen would not end up in Chinese hands the matter would be clinched.

He mused whether the public might be diverted by De la Vega’s coast defense scheme; the Minister of Defense had only hinted at the plan, for which a British expert had been hired. Certainly if the Government could be shown as being strong toward China it would make things easier.


Saturday, July 15th 2017, 1:46am

Manila, The Malacañan Palace, Monday, 15 March 1948

Don Joaquin de la Vega and his assistant, Ramon Magsaysay had returned to the Minister’s office to digest the proposal set before them by the hired British expert, Maunsell. De la Vega dropped his copy of the report on his desk and slumped in his chair; his assistant took a seat opposite him.

“Does he actually believe concrete will float?” asked the Minister of Defense. The question was intended as rhetorical but Magsaysay offered his own answer.

“In the Great War several of the European powers made use of ferroconcrete ships and barges; if you do the sums correctly, yes, a concrete vessel will float.”

De la Vega raised a dubious eyebrow. “Really?”

Magsaysay continued. “Shortages of steel,” he explained. “Of course, the craft were not as efficient as steel ships, nor as long lived. For some years after the hostilities a British firm used surplus barges to good effect in cross-Channel traffic.”

“Ramon,” the Minister exclaimed, “you are a font of esoteric knowledge. It is one of your best qualities.”

De la Vega picked up his copy of the report and turned to a page he had marked. “Now these steel tower proposals seem to me more reasonable,” he said. “We have sufficient experience with such having built the dradis station at Scarborough Shoals”.

“True enough,” Magsaysay agreed. “But such installations can only be built where the sea is not too deep and work crews have sufficient support to proceed efficiently. The concrete caissons can be built ashore and then floated out to where they are wanted. And their construction would be faster.”

“There is that point,” De la Vega agreed. “And less costly up front.” He fell silent a moment and then asked, “Do you think this plan would be approved by the Senate?”


Thursday, July 20th 2017, 12:51am

The Freeman (Cebu), Wednesday, 17 March 1948

Marking the conclusion of the first phase of their operational trials the escort destroyers Cabanatuan and Calamba called at Iloilo. The newest of the Navy’s fighting ships, they were completed at Butuan earlier this month.

The Manila Chronicle, Friday, 19 March 1948

Yesterday evening saw the Senate approve by a narrow margin the proposed sale of the aircraft carrier Linguyen to the Imperial Japanese Navy. The matter had been hotly debated in the wake of the Laganoy Affair, but the need to economize naval expenditures while maintaining an adequate defense against potential foreign aggression swayed non-committed senators.


Thursday, July 20th 2017, 11:42am

Its a controversial sale, but then the open market has collapsed and there never was a big market for carriers anyway.


Wednesday, July 26th 2017, 10:16pm

Manila, The Malacañan Palace, Monday, 22 March 1948

Minister of Defense Don Joaquin de la Vega reflected on the Senate’s debate thus far on his plan for improved coast defenses throughout the archipelago. Considering that it came hard upon the contentious discussion of the sale of the aircraft carrier Linguyen to Japan it had gone surprisingly smooth. Senator Soriano had proved to be a most eminent advocate. A bill embodying his proposals was being drafted and would likely be reported out before the end of the month. Don Andreas appeared confident that the votes could be found to support it and carry it through the chamber.

It might come at the cost of modifications to the existing naval program; but then, some of those expenditures would be balanced by the sale of the Linguyen; and for the moment China was unusually quiescent. Therein lay the dilemma – the Philippines could not risk the possibility that China would remain so forever. So the naval construction program could not be cut by much; and thankfully there were few in the Senate who advocated such.


Tuesday, August 1st 2017, 7:13pm

The Manila Times, Thursday, 25 March 1948

The First Fighter Wing, stationed at Villamor Air Force Base, near Manila, has completed its conversion to the recently-acquired de Havilland Vampire Mk.31 jet fighter aircraft. Its principal mission is the defense of the capital region against air attack. The unit’s previous mounts, the North American P-51D Mustang, have been placed in temporary storage pending their reassignment to other units. Additional quantities of the outstanding British fighter have been ordered, and it is expected that the Second Fighter Wing at Del Carmen Air Force Base will begin conversion sometime later this year.


Wednesday, August 9th 2017, 2:49am

The Bohol Chronicle, Sunday, 28 March 1948

The 27th Bombardment Squadron of the Seventh Composite Wing, stationed at Del Monte Air Force Base, has completed its conversion to the Douglas A-26 attack bomber. This marks the retirement of the veteran Martin B-26 medium bomber from the Air Force’s inventory. The Martin aircraft had built up an enviable record during the South China Sea War but attrition has taken its toll, and the aircraft no longer met the tactical needs of the Air Force.


Thursday, August 10th 2017, 8:27pm

Naval Operating Base Cavite, Tuesday, 30 March 1948

For Kapitein-luitenant ter Zee Eugène Lacomblé the morning’s briefing had come as a surprise. The level of pirate and smuggling activity in the southern seas had been at a low level for many, many months. Even the threat of China seemed to have receded. Today’s information however belied that assessment; his instincts suggested that the intelligence had been at hand for some time, but only now released to the Philippine Navy; he chose not to speculate further.

China, it seemed, had acquired two battlecruisers from foreign sources – probably South African – and according to agent reports was having them refitted there. This acquisition would shift the balance of power between the two navies to a significant degree. Coming on the heels of the recent decision by the Philippines to sell one of their two aircraft carriers Lacomblé wondered if such a move was wise; the argument, of course, was that Philippine strategy was defensive. More concerning were cryptic reports of some sort of manned torpedoes – whatever that might mean. It suggested that come what may, the Chinese were not changing their basic stance.

This explained, no doubt, the decision by the Philippine naval staff to continue its series of Alcotan-class coastal escorts and Descubierta-class antisubmarine gunboats. There had been speculation that the initial pair of each class might not be followed by further construction; now, it appeared, that two more of the former and four more of the latter would be constructed during the remainder of the year.

And then there were the reports of the growth of the Chinese air warning network; initially confined to northern regions new stations were being brought into service at a rapid pace. The more recent series of long-range reconnaissance sorties by Philippine aircraft had drawn far swifter responses from Chinese interceptors, suggesting a growing sophistication on the part of Chinese RDF personnel. He had heard rumors that Philippine submarines had been deployed off the Chinese coast with orders to monitor the Chinese transmissions; whether it was true or not he did not know. His hosts were not *that* obliging.


Yesterday, 5:04pm

Philippine News and Events, April 1948

The Manila Times, Thursday, 1 August 1948

A ringing response was given today to the reports of the growing naval strength of the Chinese Empire. The light cruiser Batangas joined her sister Benguet on the ways of the Cavite Naval Shipyard while at the Butuan facility on Mindanao no fewer than four vessels – the escort destroyers Roxas and Rosario, and the antisubmarine vessels Vencedora and Cazadora – were laid down. These fine ships will follow their predecessors in the continuing program of fleet renewal, enabling the nation to assure its defense at sea.