Expansion of the Naval Station

Posted 11 months ago

The United States would spend millions of dollars in 1951 in converting the base. On December 7, 1959, after a protracted agitation by its citizens, Olongapo was relinquished by the United States to the Philippine government and converted into a municipality. Six years later, on the first day of June 1966, Olongapo was reconverted into a chartered city.

The Naval Station was widened and with the establishment of the American rule in the Philippines, American defenses in the islands were strengthened. Facilities left by the Spanish Navy were taken over by the United States.

Spanish Gate during the relocation of Olongapo City

Spanish Gate during the relocation of Olongapo City

Olongapo grew in direct proportion to the development of the Naval Station.  More people came to live in Olongapo since the US Navy offered employment.  To most Filipinos during that time, it was a welcome change.  The promise of a different kind of experience as shop workers and office help induced many young men to leave their farms and fishing boats to work in the Navy Yard.  Others finding the irresistible lure of the sea joined the U. S. Navy.

Due to U.S. fears about rising tide of Communism in Asia, efforts were made to prevent local resentment and hostility erupting in Subic area. Over $1.5 million was invested in the town of Olongapo and on December 7, 1959, under the provisions of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement, the Americans relinquished administrative control of Olongapo town to the Philippines-including some $6 million worth of electrical, water and telecommunications infrastructure.

The steady expansion of U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War had a significant impact on Subic Bay and the 1960s saw a massive expansion in the base’s logistical, repair, and R&R functions.

Over $63 million was invested in developing the infrastructure and facilities during this decade, including a 600 feet extension of Alava Pier in 1967 to increase berthing capability for the Navy. The record number of US Navy ships berthed in Subic was set in October 1968 when 47 vessels were at harbor there at one time.

The newly constructed Naval Supply Depot handled the largest volume of fuel oil of any Navy facility in the world, processing more than four million barrels of fuel oil each month.

The depot also supplied Clark Air Base with aviation fuel through a 41-mile (66km) pipeline. The Cubi Point Air Station at Cubi Point served as the 7th Fleet’s primary maintenance, repair and supply center-maintaining over 400 carrier based aircrafts. The facility produced two jet engines per day to supply the demands of the Vietnam air campaign.

The fall of Saigon in the summer of 1975 resulted to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Vietnam. Many of these refugees were rescued at sea by the U.S. Navy and transported to Subic Bay.  A temporary processing center was set up on Grande Island in 1975 but operations were later moved to the Philippine Refugee Processing Center in Morong, Bataan.

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