Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, November 28, 2008

Submarines to be built in Subic

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT— It looks and moves like an aircraft, but it can also dive underwater

The Amuza “leisure submarine,” a two-seater vessel the size of a compact car, may soon be built by a Japanese firm in this free port with the help of a Filipino-British car body-parts maker.

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator Armand Arreza said a prototype of the submersible was successfully tested last week in the waters of Subic Bay.

Submarine builder Amuza Co. Ltd., which first gained popularity for its limousines, wants to start building about 10 production models by the end of the year. The company has been developing the prototype for the last 10 years and has spent about $1.7 million for the project, said Amuza chief executive officer Kiyotaka Miyagawa.

For this project, it has partnered with Taiyo Sangyo Trading and Marine Service Ltd., a former Subic locator, and McGram Fusion, a manufacturer of fiberglass, carbon fiber and Kevlar car body kits. The latter will fabricate the vessel’s hull and other visible components, while electronic parts and systems will be shipped from Japan.

Amuza’s mechanical technologist Keisuke Imada said the two-seater leisure submarine weighs about four tons and is about the size of a typical car, measuring two meters wide, four and a half meters long and two meters high.

Imada said the leisure craft is powered by a lithium-ion battery that is still being developed by Amuza. On a full charge of 10 hours, the vessel can navigate up to 50 nautical miles (about 90 kilometers) and up to 150 meters deep. The sub’s underwater speed is about 5 knots, which makes it ideal for exploration and sight-seeing.

Imada added that the unique submarine “is the most acrobatic submarine in the world” and can be maneuvered to perform stunts like an aircraft. The idea, he said, was “to make it more mobile, as opposed to the traditional sub which can only go up and down.” He added, however, that buyers of leisure submarine must first secure a license from a pilot training station that Amuza also plans to set up in Subic Bay.

Initially, the Amuza plans to invest $5 million for the training school, which will employ 50 to 100 divers, mechanics, and helpers, Imada said.

“Basically, this is a toy for rich people,” Arreza said. “So production would be low, slow, cautious, and of the highest quality.” Written by Henry Empeño - Business Mirror

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