USS ESSEX IN SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE!
Last weekend, my wife and I went home in Subic Bay Freeport Zone due to my brother-in-law’s request to tour his wife to the former US naval base. My other sister-in-law went along with us too so it was more or less a reunion for my wife with his siblings except for one who is still in their province in Mindanao.
Since we were off to Boracay for the long weekend this coming holiday, it was a good idea to go home on my part so I can advance my visit to my grandparents’ tombs in Pampanga, offer prayers and light candles. I was originally planning to use the entire weekend to help out in the cleaning and painting of the tombs though.
So we left Manila in the morning and arrived in Olongapo after lunch. My parents prepared a good meal for us before they left for a usual weekend in our home in Pampanga. We spent a few hours idling around. I had to fix a flat tire too so we decided to start the tour in the evening.
Anyway, my parents told us that there is a huge US naval vessel docked at the port with 3 other ships escorting it. Thus, we hurriedly went there as soon as we decided to go out and start our joy ride. Nearing the port, we saw several US service men walking around. As usual, there were taxi drivers and girls offering their “services”. Well, it’s a usual scenario anyway.
Seeing the huge Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, we were astonished. It is the very same ship featured in the PC Games – Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 3. There were huge transport helicopters, attack choppers and jump jets on it. There were 2 smaller transport ships carrying a Humvee and amphibians too plus 3 huge vessels docked at the same time. I have seen many US naval ships before in Subic yet I am really fascinated! I thought it was the bigger super carrier USS Kitty Hawk though.
The following day, we went to the port once again to check the ship. We only knew it by the tag in its hull – LHD-2. With the use of my phone and Google, I learned that the ship docked was indeed the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) accompanied by the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD-42) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD-9) visiting the country for a regular joint military exercise with the Armed Forces of the Philippines via Visiting Forces Agreement.
Anyway, I wonder when the Philippines will get to have one!