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M/T Empire State, the first ship scheduled to defuel the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, approaches Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Oct. 11, 2023, off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. US DoD photo

The U.S.-flagged M/T Empire State, chartered by the U.S. Department of Defense, approaches Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to begin defueling the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, Oct. 11, 2023. US DoD photo by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Gabrielle Zagorski

Navy Moves Hawaii Fuel Storage To Philippines

Total Views: 36384
January 11, 2024

by Karen Lema (Reuters) – The U.S. embassy in Manila confirmed on Thursday that the U.S. delivered fuel from one of its (likely Red Hill) naval bases in Hawaii to a facility inside a former U.S. base in the Philippines in coordination with the government.

A Philippines senator had criticized the “inexplicable silence” over the shipment, which she said raised suspicions about the pre-positioning of military supplies in the country amid concerns about potential Chinese aggression towards Taiwan.

The senator, Imee Marcos, who is the president’s sister, said the shipment amounted to 39 million gallons of fuel.

A spokesperson for the U.S embassy in Manila, Kanishka Gangopadhyay, said the delivery was “one of multiple shipments of safe, clean fuel” from a facility in Pearl Harbor to locations in the Pacific.

He did not give details about the size of the shipment to Subic Bay, formerly a U.S. Navy base in northern Philippines.

“All shipments of fuel to Subic are conducted in full coordination with the appropriate authorities in the Philippine government, as well as our commercial partners,” Gangopadhyay said.

LSEG shipping data showed a U.S.-registered oil tanker left Hawaii around Dec. 20 and arrived in waters off of the Philippines this week. The vessel is carrying clean fuel, the data shows.

“Subic is not an EDCA site, so where in Philippine territory will millions of gallons of oil be stored?,” Senator Marcos said on Wednesday.

EDCA, or the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, gives the U.S. access to military bases in the Southeast Asian country.

President Marcos last year granted the United States access to four military bases, on top of five existing locations under the 2014 EDCA, which comes amid China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea and over Taiwan, which it views as its own territory.

The Philippine defense department and the military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the senator’s remarks.

(Reporting by Karen Lema and Mikhail Flores; Editing by Neil Fullick, Rueters)

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