Subic Bay History

Posted 11 months ago

Subic Bay’s unique past, as is her present, was anchored on her impressive geography. This one-of-a kind bay is so generously endowed with naturally deep waters and is surrounded by mountain ranges, which make it a strategic sheltered harbor. These attributes proved to be irresistible to naval powers who know how advantageous Subic Bay could be to their desired military posturing, and indeed they made significant impact on the wars and conflicts that ravaged the region throughout the years.

Spanish Arsenal 1885

From the bay’s discovery by the Spaniards in 1542 and the subsequent establishment of a Spanish Naval Station some 350 years later, to the Spanish – American War that erupted in 1898 and the eventual take-over by the United States of America who further developed Subic Bay as a naval base, to the brief occupation of Japanese naval forces and the post-World War II development of the bay into America’s biggest military installation overseas, there was no question that military powers regard Subic Bay’s excellent location as a strategic advantage.

This was all the more evident in Subic Bay’s active and huge participation as a forward deployment base for the U.S. forces during the Vietnam War, when it also hosted thousands of US military servicemen hungry for R&R.

Subic Naval Base post-Vietnam War era

But fortunes change, and for Olongapo and Subic Bay, this came with the sudden U.S. withdrawal from the Philippines in late 1992, partly because of the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and primarily because the extension of the Philippine-U.S. Bases Treaty was rejected by the Philippine Senate in 1991. From being an important strategic U.S. military installation – the biggest in Western Pacific for the US – Subic was transformed into a freeport zone, and now a recognized booming haven for tourism and commerce.

Related Content

The History

Contribute To
Our History

Submit Black & White Photos

Send us old photos and be featured