by Jack McKillop
includes Cañacao, Cavite, Lingayen, Manila, Sangley Point, and Subic Bay.
With an area of 40,420-square-miles (104,688-square-kilometers), Luzon (16º00N, 121º00E) is the largest island in the Philippine Islands. The irregular coastline includes 2,016 islands but only 589 are named. Manila Bay (14º31'36"N, 120º45'22"E) is considered the best natural harbor in the Orient and one of the finest in the world. Northern Luzon is mountainous with the highest peak, Mike Pulog, rising to 9.606-feet (2,929-meters).
Luzon is generally mountainous, but is cut by two large valleys. The central plain, extending from Lingayen Gulf to Manila Bay is 100-miles (161-kilometers) long and varies from 30-to-50-miles (48-to-80-kilometers) in width. It contains the capital city of Manila, the major concentration of the population and wealth, numerous airfields, and a network of roads and railroads.
Naval installations on Luzon were, as soon as was possible, placed under the command of naval headquarters at Manila. The facilities consisted, in addition to the naval base at Manila, of a section base at San Fernando on Lingayen Gulf, a naval base at Subic Bay, an airfield at Sangley Point, receiving barracks and hospital at Cavite, and a port director's office at Batangas.
Cañacao, Naval Operating Base
This hospital (about 14º29'31"N, 120º54'21"E) had been established as a naval hospital by the Spanish in 1871 and managed by the Sisters of Charity. The hospital was located at Cañacao near the western end of the Sangley Point, Cavite Peninsula in Manila Bay. The U.S. Navy continued to operate the hospital started by the Spanish until the mid-1920s when a modern new hospital was built as part of a major construction project to modernize the facility. The new hospital continued to serve the Navy and the local population until it was occupied by the Japanese in January 1942. After the war it was torn down, and the Communications Center was erected on the site.
Cavite Navy Yard
NY Cavite (14º28'50"N, 120º55'04"E) was located on the east of Manila Bay about 8-miles (13-kilometers) south of Manila. The main Spanish naval base in the Philippines was at Cavite. A shipyard capable of, constructing galleons and other classes of vessels had been established there in September, 1766 . The last of the galleons built at Cavite left Manila in 1811, ending a long line of stately ships of Spanish design but almost wholly Philippine labor and craftsmanship.
Cavite suffered from unhealthy living conditions, with malaria and other diseases rampant, and was, with its lack of shelter and shallow water, vulnerable in time of war and bad weather. Because of these shortcomings a board of officers was appointed to investigate a new location for the primary Spanish naval station in the Far East. A military expedition was sent to Subic Bay in 1868 with orders to survey the bay to determine if a suitable site existed there. The expedition returned to Cavite and informed the naval command of their findings that Subic Bay, with its deep water and healthy environment, was superior to Cavite and an ideal place for a naval base. This emphatic report, however, was not well received in Manila. The Spanish command was reluctant to give up the bright city lights of Manila and move to the provincial isolation of Subic Bay.
Cavite, therefore, in spite of its defects, had the best-developed naval facilities in the Philippines when the Islands were ceded to the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898; in the circumstances, the American naval forces on the Asiatic Station had little choice but to place main reliance initially on those facilities. The Navy even transferred some Spanish machinery from Olongapo in Subic Bay to Cavite, where it could be put to better immediate use. By 1903 Congress had appropriated more than US$500,000 (about US$13.2 million in 2013 dollars) to enable the Navy to improve and capitalize on the existing installation on Manila Bay.
Cavite continued to serve essentially the same function for the U.S. Navy as it had for the Spanish navy. The coaling facilities on the eastern end continued to supply the Navy with coal until ships converted to oil when a tank farm was established.
Three 600-foot (183-meter) steel antenna towers were erected in 1915 for the operation of a powerful radio transmitter station, named Radio Sangley. Subsequently, a submarine support facility was established. The Cavite Navy Yard, just across Cañacao Bay, became the major ship repair facility for the Asiatic fleet.
On 8 December 1941 (7 December in Hawaii and the U.S.), there were 126 naval ships in Manila Bay and the Cavite Navy Yard:
Ash Lighters: 3
Covered Lighters: 11
Destroyers: 4 Clemson Class “four stackers”
Floating Derricks: 4
Floating Pile Driver: 1
Harbor Tugs: 4
Miscellaneous District Auxiliaries: 3
Motor Torpedo (PT) Boats: 6
Ocean-Going Tugs: 2
Oil Barges: 3
Open Lighters: 17
Patrol Vessels: 3
Pontoon Storage Barges: 2
River Gunboats: 2
Salvage Pontoons: 10
Seaplane Tender: 1
Seaplane Tender, Destroyer: 1
Sludge Removal Barge: 1
Submarines: 24 (6 Porpoise Class. 4 S-1 Class, 4 Salmon Class and 10 Sargo Class)
Submarine Rescue Chamber: 1
Submarine Rescue Ship: 1
Submarine Tenders: 2
Unclassified Miscellaneous: 1
Water Barge: 1
Yacht: 1 (Lanikai)
Four of these vessels were undergoing repair or overhaul. The destroyers USS Peary (DD-226) and USS Pillsbury (DD-227) had collided several weeks before. Peary still had her bow wide open and powerplant dismantled while Pillsbury was nearing completion. The submarines USS Seadragon (SS-194) and USS Sealion (SS-195) were moored alongside each other and were undergoing a regular overhaul.
By 10 December, 18 submarines had sailed from Cavite/Manila Bay, That day the Japanese sent 54 bombers to attack the Navy Yard and vessels in the harbor. The first bomb fell on the Navy Yard at 1314 hours. For more than an hour thereafter, three waves of 27 Betty bombers (Mitsubishi G4M1, Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers) each swept over, out of antiaircraft range, dropping their explosives at will. With maddening deliberation, the bombers flew over Cavite, dropping their bombs from a height of 20,000-feet (6,096-meters), above the range of the nine 3-inch (76.2-millimeter) antiaircraft guns protecting the base. Practically every bomb fell within the Navy Yard limits, with direct hits on the powerplant, dispensary, torpedo repair shop, supply office, warehouse, signal station, commissary store, barracks, officers' quarters, and several ships, tugs, and barges along the waterfront. The greatest damage was done by the fire which spread rapidly and was soon out of control. The entire yard and one-third of the city of Cavite were ablaze. The most serious loss to the submarine force, however, was the destruction of well over 200 torpedoes.
Five naval vessels and a civilian freighter are either damaged or sunk:
1. The foremast of destroyer USS Peary (DD-226) was hit, showering the ship with fragments and setting fires, killing eight and wounding many more including her commanding officer. The crew formed bucket brigades to bring Peary’s fires under control and her crew removed the wounded. Within the hour, however, fires in the navy yard spread to the wooden docks and adjacent warehouses, putting Peary at risk from exploding acetylene cylinders, torpedo air flasks and warheads. Not a moment too soon, minesweeper USS Whippoorwill (AM 35) returned from patrol to haul her clear. With Pillsbury joining in, Whippoorwill played hoses on her, moored her to a buoy in nearby Cañacao Bay and removed her remaining casualties to the local hospital.
2. The submarine USS Seadragon (SS-194) was moored alongside USS Sealion (SS-195). Seadragon was damaged when Sealion was hit by a bomb which ripped off part of Seadragon’s bridge. Shrapnel and splinters punctured her tanks and pierced her conning tower, killing one and wounding five. The heat of the explosion scorched her hull and blistered her black paint. Fires and explosions raged along the wharf. A nearby torpedo shop went up and flames reached toward a lighter, loaded with torpedoes, alongside Scadragon. Minesweeper USS Pigeon (AM-47), however, disregarded the danger and moved in to tow Seadragon out into the channel, whence the submarine continued into Manila Bay under her own power.
3. Submarine USS Sealion (SS-195) was directly hit by two bombs. The first bomb struck the after end of her conning tower and exploded outside the hull, over the control room. The second smashed through a main ballast tank and the pressure hull to explode in the after engine room, killing the four men working there. Sealion flooded immediately and settled down by the stern with 40 percent of her main deck underwater and a 15 degree list to starboard. The destruction of the navy yard made repairs impossible, and she was ordered destroyed. All salvageable equipment was taken off; depth charges were placed inside; and, on 25 December, the explosives were set off to prevent her from being made useful to the Japanese.
4 Minesweeper USS Bittern (AM-36) was not hit but suffered extensive damage from fire, near missiles, and flying debris from USS Sealion (SS-195) moored alongside. Too badly damaged for repair, the minesweeper was scuttled in Manila Bay.
5. Submarine tender USS Otus (AS-20) was slightly damaged when several bombs landed near her starboard side.
On the morning of the 11th the fires at Cavite were burning more fiercely than ever. Evidently there was no chance of saving the yard. When Rear Admiral Francis W. Rockwell, commander of the Sixteenth Naval District, reported to Admiral Thomas C. Hart, commander of the Asiatic Fleet, in Manila that day the two men agreed to salvage as much as possible from the ruins. Remaining supplies were to be distributed among the installations at Manila, Corregidor, and Mariveles. The base at Sangley Point was to be maintained as long as possible, and when no longer tenable the radio station and fuel supply were to be moved to Corregidor.
On December 25th, Manila was declared an open city which meant it was completely demilitarized, the removal or destruction of all military installations, and a hypothetical freedom from bombing. To meet these requirements, the submarine USS Sealion (SS-195) was scuttled by a demolition crew. Finally, Manila and Cavite fell to the Japanese on 2 January 1942.
The Japanese continued to use Sangley and Cavite for basically the same purposes. They rehabilitated and expanded the facilities and used them for repair of their own craft and construction of small wooden vessels for coastal shipping of supplies.
On 21 September 1944, the U.S. Navy’s Task Force 38 began air strikes on Japanese shipping in Manila and Subic Bays, Clark and Nichols Fields near Manila, and the Cavite Navy Yard. At Manila, planes sink a destroyer, a fleet tanker, two oilers, a tanker, four army cargo ships, a merchant tanker, three cargo ships, six army cargo ships, and three cargo ships. The Cavite Navy Yard was again badly damaged, as were most of the hospital buildings at Cañacao.
Another raid occurred on 13 November 1944. Carrier aircraft sank a light cruiser, four destroyers, an auxiliary submarine chaser, a fleet tanker, a guardboat, five army cargo ships, as well as four merchant cargo ships, and damaged a destroyer.
Japanese resistance in Manila ceased on 24 February 1945. Naval installations on Luzon were, as soon as was possible, placed under the command of naval headquarters at Manila and the facilities at Cavite were to be a receiving barracks and a hospital.
In March 1945, shortly after the recovery of the Manila area from the Japanese, the Seabees arrived at Manila to begin new construction and rehabilitate the existing facilities. At Cavite, construction consisted chiefly of erecting 12 Quonset huts to serve as a receiving barracks and a base hospital was started, but was still uncompleted on V-J Day. Local labor was used extensively, under supervision of the Seabees. They also erected three large Quonset huts over concrete floors, to be used as shops for the ship salvage unit. Two small personnel camps and a dispensary were also in process of construction when the Japanese surrendered.
After the war, the major function at Cavite was the repair of small boats. Subic Bay was chosen as the main naval base in the Philippines and Navy Yard Cavite was disestablished on 15 January 1948.
Lingayen Gulf, Naval Facilities
Lingayen Gulf (16º19'39"N, 120º11'26"E) is an extension of the South China Sea on Luzon, 26-miles (42-kilometers) wide at the entrance and stretching 35-miles (56-kilometers). The naval facilities consisted of PT Advance Base 6 at Port Sual, Port Director, Mobile Amphibious Repair Base and a section base at San Fernando.
In August 1945, detachments of three patrol bomber squadrons flying Martin PBM Mariners were based here serviced by seaplane tenders.
Manila, Seventh Fleet Headquarters.
In 1928, naval facilities at Manila were centered in the navy yard at Cavite (q.v.). Several outlying activities in the vicinity, although set apart geographically from the yard, were loosely spoken of as divisions. Among them was the fuel depot at Sangley Point, a small peninsula extending into Manila Bay. Other activities in the area were a supply department in the city of Manila and two small boat piers on the Manila waterfront were used for the landing of liberty parties from the many ships that anchored in the deep and extensive harbor at Manila.
In March 1945, shortly after the recovery of the Manila area from the Japanese, the Seabees arrived at Manila to begin new construction and rehabilitate the existing facilities. Several projects were immediately undertaken, including construction of a communications system, the clearing for a receiving barracks at Cavite naval base, and the installation of facilities for a ship salvage unit at Manila.
On 8 April, the Seabees began work on the Seventh Fleet headquarters, on a 409-acre (166-hectare) site on the Manila waterfront formerly occupied by the Manila Polo Club. Quarters for personnel were quickly available in 33 Quonset huts and 14 two-story frame units. Eleven prefabricated steel units were erected as office buildings. Eight 75-kw generators were set in a 40-by-128-foot (12-by-39-meter) prefabricated steel hut, which included a laundry and drying unit. In addition, electrical, water, and sewerage facilities, a ten Quonset hut hospital, an open-air theater, and a chapel were constructed. The project also included all walks, roads, and necessary drainage.
The communications center consisted of three units -- a transmitting station, a receiving station, and a traffic center. At the transmitting station, 12 Quonset huts, for living quarters, galley, messhalls, and sick bay, were erected, and three Quonset huts over concrete decks served the power plant. One Quonset housed the transmitter. Poles, transmission lines, walks, roads, water and sewerage facilities were installed. The receiving center consisted of 40 Quonset huts for quarters, offices, and utilities buildings; the traffic center had seven large Quonset huts and two frame buildings. The work was completed by 22 June 1945.
Mariveles, Bataan Peninsula.
In May 1941, civilian contractors began to develop an ammunition depot at Mariveles (14º26'11"N, 120º29'06"E) on the tip of Bataan Peninsula. This project called for 47 structures, including storage for mine and cartridge cases, ammunition overhaul shops, a general garage, a generating plant, distribution systems for electricity and water, telephone and fire-alarm service, quarters for military personnel and civilian workers, as well as walks, roads, and necessary drainage. Emergency defense work was continued by the civilian workers until 8 April, when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.
PT Advance Base 6
was located at Port Sual (16º03'59"N, 120º05'49"E) on the western shore of Lingayen Gulf. The base was constructed in March 1945 but after the Philippine Army and U.S. Army completed the occupation of the north coast of the bay, patrols were discontinued on 31 July.
San Fernando, Naval Section Base.
This base (16°37'07"N, 120°19'10"E) was established on the east side of Lingayen Gulf, to coordinate with the Army in the routing and convoying of ships, to provide service to forces afloat, to coordinate naval activities in the Lingayen area, and to furnish local defense of the area, including harbor entrance control. Included in the facilities at San Fernando were radio and visual stations, a dispensary, a boat pool, a fleet post office, and 93 anchorages. Quonset construction, used for all personnel structures and shops, was erected mainly by local labor.
Sangley Point, Fleet Air Base.
Sangley Point (14°29'43N, 120°54'15"E) is located 8-miles (13-kilometers) west of Manila. The Spanish first occupied the site in the 17th century, founded along with the adjoining city of Cavite in 1614. The Spanish navy built a shipyard at Sangley Point in 1884. After the Americans took possession of the Philippines in 1898 the facilities were greatly expanded for use by the Asiatic Fleet.
Aviation first came to the Philippines in civilian guise in the 1930s, when Pan American Airways built its seaplane station at Cavite for the China run. On 22 November 1935, Pan American Airways Martin M-130 registered NC14716 and named China Clipper, took off from Alameda, California and flew to Manila via Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii; Midway Islands, Wake Island; and Guam arriving on 29 November after a 59 hour, 48 minute flight.
Early in 1941, the U.S. government began planning a seaplane base for patrol activities in the Manila area. Sangley Point was selected as the location, and plans for the proposed station were approved on 10 April 1941. Field work started in May 1941 under a supplemental agreement to the contract providing Pacific air bases. Plans called for clearing of the site, dredging, bulkheading, filling, and grading; construction of a seaplane ramp and extension of the existing seaplane runways; erection of a seaplane hangar, a utility shop, an assembly and repair shop, an engine-test shop; construction of a power plant and distribution system, fuel storage facilities, magazines, barracks, messhalls, recreation facilities, roads, walks, and a fire protection system.
By the outbreak of World War II the base had become a major port facility for the U.S. Navy. Patrol Wing Ten (PatWing-10), with four tenders and Patrol Squadrons One Hundred One (VP-101) and VP-102, were stationed at Cavite, but withdrew on 14 December 1941 in the face of overwhelming Japanese attacks. The contractors continued work on these projects until 24 December 1941, when Manila was declared an open sicty. Emergency defense work was continued by the civilian workers until 8 April, when Bataan was surrendered to the Japanese.
Following the liberation of the port in February 1945 the reconstruction of the site began. A 5,000-foot (1,524-meter) runway was constructed, complete with taxiways and parking areas, all of them surfaced with pierced plank. A terminal building and appurtenant structures and facilities for the Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) were construct6ed adjacent to the strip. Two 42,000 U.S. gallon (34,972 Imperial gallons or 158,987 liter) tanks and one 420,000 U.S. gallon (349,723 Imperial gallon or 1.6 megaliter) tank, complete with a distribution and pumping system, were erected. Existing seaplane facilities were expanded to include a concrete ramp, temporary shops, and a pontoon slip to facilitate loading and unloading operations.
The base was officially designated Naval Air Base Sangley Point on 4 October 1945. On 27 February 1947 it was redesignated Naval Air Station Sangley Point and on 1 June 1950, it was redesignated Naval Station Sangley Point. Generally, three patrol squadrons at a time operated from NS Sangley Point from 1950 until its disestablishment on 1 July 1971. On 1 September 1971, the base was transferred to the Philippine Air Force and Navy and is now named Danilo Atienza Air Base.
Subic Bay Naval Base
Subic Bay (14º47'37"N, 120º14'20"E) is on the west coast of Luzon about 30-miles (48.2-kilometers) north of Corregidor Island and 50-miles (80-kilometers) northwest of Manila. The bay, an inlet of the South China Sea, is 9-miles (14.5-kilometers) long and from 5-to-8-miles (8.0-to-12.9-kilometers) wide. The semi-tropical climate with high temperature and humidity and rainfall of about 125-inches (318-centimeters) yearly characterized the area. Water, which had to be treated, was available in an unlimited amount from streams and wells. The soil was a rather fertile clay mixture. Several sources of clean well-graded gravel and of good rock for road building and concrete aggregate were available and native timber could be utilized for construction purposes.
Cavite (q.v.), in Manila Bay, which had been home to most of the Spanish fleet in the Philippines, suffered from unhealthy living conditions and was vulnerable in time of war and bad weather because of its shallow water and lack of shelter. Because of these, a military expedition was sent to Subic Bay in 1868 with orders to survey the bay to find out if it would be a suitable site for a naval yard. The Spanish explored the entire bay and concluded that it had much promise and thus reported their findings to Cavite. This report was not well-accepted in Manila as the Spanish command was reluctant to move to the provincial isolation of Subic. Finally, in 1884, a Royal Decree declared Subic Bay as a naval port.
On 8 March 1885, the Spanish Navy authorized construction of the Arsenal at Olongapo (14º49'21"N, 120º16'42"E) and work began in September. Both the harbor and its inner basin were dredged and a drainage canal was built, making Olongapo an “island.” Seawalls, causeways and a short railway were built across the swampy tidal flats requiring thousands of tons of dirt and rock to be brought in to be used as fill. Inside the Arsenal, which was located on the eastern end of the island, the Spanish constructed a foundry, as well as other shops, which were necessary for the construction and repair of ships.
During the Spanish-American War that raged throughout 1898, Olongapo was largely ignored by the U.S. Navy. After moving to Manila, the Americans focused on capturing the Spanish port in Cavite and as a result, Filipino forces occupied Olongapo and installed a gun battery at Kalaklan Point (14º49'26"N, 120º16'05"E), 1,000 feet (305-meters) from sea level, consisting of two artillery pieces: one six-inch (152-millimeter) and one three-inch (76-millimeter). By 1899, the Americans realized Olongapo's potential as a protecting harbor for vessels steaming between Manila and Hong Kong, so the U.S. Navy’s Asiatic Squadron began patrolling the area during the summer.
At first the Filipinos stationed in Olongapo decided not to fire at the American patrol. However, on 18 September the Filipinos fired at the collier and supply ship USS Zafiro. Undamaged, Zafiro withdrew and reported the incident. Five days later, the Americans dispatched USS Charleston (Protected Cruiser No. 2), which fired at Filipino-held Olongapo with her eight-inch (203-millimeter) guns, silencing the single Filipino battery.
The Americans returned to Olongapo with a stronger force, bringing USS Baltimore (Protected Cruiser No. 3) and USS Concord (Gunboat No. 3) in addition to USS Zafiro and USS Charleston. Baltimore opened fire with her 10-and-12-inch (254-and-305-millimeter) guns. Due to the heavy American bombardment, the Filipino battery was only able to respond with a single shot. After the bombardment was lifted, Charleston landed 180 sailors and 70 marines. A short battle ensued in the main part of Olongapo, during which one American was wounded. The Americans then raced to the single battery at Kalaklan Point, and destroyed it completely with three charges of guncotton. As soon as they had achieved their mission, the Americans withdrew to their ships. Olongapo remained under the Filipinos, but the battery – badly damaged in the explosion – no longer posed a threat to American intentions in the area.
With the single Filipino battery gone, trade vessels as well as American patrols were able to freely use the trade route past Olongapo. On 10 December 1899, an American force of 90 soldiers captured Olongapo.
Cavite was Spain’s chief naval base in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. Located on Manila Bay, this base was about 8-miles (13-kilomeers) by water from Manila. However, various natural disadvantages of Cavite, including shallow water, unhealthful living conditions, and vulnerability in time of war, were appreciated by at least some of the Spanish authorities, and certain elements in the Spanish navy had tried from the 1880’s on to transfer the naval emphasis from Cavite to Olongapo. The latter, having the natural advantages of deep water, more healthful climate, and defensibility, was repeatedly recommended by naval boards for development as Spain’s man naval base in the Orient. Between 1885 and the outbreak of the war with the U.S., Spain spent considerable sums at Olongapo for such improvements as the reclamation of land, dredging, and the erection of buildings, sea walls, and causeways, but the work of building up the station was hardly more than well begun by the time of the war. The slowness with which the development of Olongapo proceeded was later attributed by Admiral Dewey’s aide to the “strong official and social opposition from those at Cavite, who much preferred the propinquity of the metropolis of the island to comparative exile at Subig (sic).”
Cavite, therefore, in spite of its defects, had the best-developed naval facilities in the Philippines when the Islands were ceded to the United States; in the circumstances, the American naval forces on the Asiatic Station had little choice but to place man reliance initially on those facilities. The Navy even transferred some Spanish machinery from Olongapo to Cavite, where it could be put to better immediate use. By 1903 Congress had appropriated more than US$500,000 (about US$13.2 million in 2013 dollars) to enable the Navy to improve and capitalize on the existing installation Cavite. Up to this time Olongapo had received no appropriations at all.
Based on a Navy Board’s recommendation, President Theodore Roosevelt issued an Executive Order on 9 November 1901 directing that “all tracts and parcels of land belonging to the U.S. situate in the provinces of Zambales and Bataan” within the boundaries specified in the order “be and the same are hereby reserved for naval purposes, and said reservation and all lands included within said boundaries are hereby placed under the governance and control of the Navy Department.”
Congress having failed to take any affirmative action on the plan and estimates for the development of a station at Olongapo which the Navy Department had submitted at the end of 1901, senior naval officers called attention in turn to the need for a naval station in the Philippines, repeated the arguments and recommendation in favor of Olongapo, and pointed out again the shortcomings of Cavite in their annual reports.
Finally, Congress authorized its first appropriation for the development of the station at Olongapo in April 1904. The total of US$862,395 (about US$22.7 million in 2013 dollars) was intended to cover the completion of a survey of the reservation, the repairing of the buildings erected by the Spaniards, the commencement of a quay wall, the construction of quarters for the commandant and three other naval officers, the construction of Marine barracks and outbuildings and Marine officers’ quarters, dredging, a water-supply system, and a pier for use in landing and receiving stores. In addition, the Navy was given US$50,000 (US$1.3 million) for “powder magazines, shall and filling houses, and so forth.”
The years from 1904 through 1908 marked Olongapo’s period of greatest prosperity, for in each of those years Congress made a substantial appropriation for public works at the Subic Bay naval station. By 1905 topographical surveys had been run at Olongapo, buildings left by the Spaniards had been repaired or reconstructed and placed in use, temporary quarters for the commandant and for three other naval officers had been built, and the pier for landing receiving stores had been completed.
In 1905, the Floating Dry Dock Dewey (redesignated YFD-1 on 20 July 1920) was towed across the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, through the Suez Canal, and across the Indian Ocean, arriving at Olongapo, on 10 July 1906. Dewey was put into service at Olongapo and remained active through World War I and the interwar years.
The year 1908 was the last year in which the Olongapo naval station received an appropriation for public works under the plan to develop it into a large base. In 1909, the Navy decided that Pearl Harbor, in the Territory of Hawaii, should be the main naval base in the Pacific. The Navy also stated that no location on Manila Bay had sufficient natural advantages to make extensive development feasible without exorbitant expense, whereas “it was found that Olongapo was ideally situated, as far as natural advantages go, and that in confining its facilities to the use of the floating dock and small repair shops, its defense would not be one of serious moment.” In 1910, the Navy recommended that Cavite be given up all facilities should be transferred to Olongapo. However, this was not to be. The lure of Manila was too great and Cavite remained the principle naval base in the Philippines. When the Sixteenth Naval District was activated in 1919, the commandant established his headquarters at Cavite and by 1922, the Navy stated that Naval Station Subic Bay should be closed and that its machinery and equipment be transferred to Cavite, though “the floating dry dock remains temporarily at Olongapo, being operated by the navy yard at Cavite.”
The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 called for the limitation of naval armaments and included provisions that facilities for the repair and maintenance of American naval forces in the Philippines would be reduced. Shops were dismantled at the navy yard at Subic Bay was reduced to caretaker status and personnel levels were cut. Even though the facilities at Subic Bay were greatly reduced under the Coolidge administration (1923 to 1929), some ship repair capability remained, including the Dewey Drydock.
In 1925, Congress appropriated US$400,000 (US$5.3 million in 2013 dollars) to cover the cost of moving the dry dock Dewey to Cavite but the dry dock remained at Subic Bay until 22 July 1941 when it was moved to Mariveles (qv) at the tip of the Bataan Peninsula. The dock was blown up on 8 April 1942, the day before the Americans surrendered.
On 8 December 1941 (7 December in Hawaii and the U.S.), two naval vessels were at Subic Bay. The submarine USS Porpise (SS-172) was undergoing a refit. With all four main engines being overhauled and her entire after battery out, the required work was accomplished in record time. The sub moved to Manila 20 December, and two days later was en route, on her first war patrol. The second vessel was the former heavy cruiser Rochester (ex-New York, ex-Saratoga, ex Armored Cruiser No. 2, ex CA-2) which had been decommissioned on 29 April 1933 and was moored at the Olongapo Shipyard for the next eight years. Her name was struck from the Navy Register 28 October 1938, and she was scuttled on 24 December 1941 to prevent capture by the Japanese.
On 12 December the Japanese struck for the first time, in an air raid by Zeke fighters (Mitsubishi A6M, Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters) which sank the naval station’s seven Consolidated PBY-4 Catalina seaplanes of Patrol Squadron One Hundred Two (VP-102) as they floated in the harbor shortly after returning from a scouting mission. Another air attack occurred the next day. Two days later, Japanese Betty bombers (Mitsubishi G4M, Navy Type 1 Attack Bombers) attacked the Olongapo/Subic Bay area. The naval base was not hit but the town area of Olongapo was severely damaged.
By 24 December, the situation at Subic had become hopeless and an order to destroy the naval station and withdraw was given. All buildings on the naval station were torched while Filipinos burned the entire town of Olongapo.
On 10 January 1942, soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army marched into Olongapo. Subic Bay Naval Station was established with four companies of soldiers and a company of Kempeitai (Military Police Corps).
The Japanese ship building firm of Marati and Takimoto began constructing wooden auxiliary vessels at Subic Bay. Several hundred workers from occupied China and Formosa were brought in as laborers, in addition to about 1,000 Filipinos. Logs were cut in the jungle and brought by narrow-gauge railroad to two steam operated sawmills. Nine ships were built and shipped to Cavite for engine installation but they would never see service, all nine were destroyed by U.S. Navy planes.
Of the few buildings left standing in Olongapo, the Catholic Church had withstood both the burning of the town by the Filipinos and the bombings of the Japanese. The Japanese stripped it of all religious articles and converted it into a motion picture theater. Later it was used to imprison Americans and Filipinos captured in the area. Those that died were buried behind the church in a small common cemetery. When all the prisoners had been transferred to Manila, the Japanese stabled their horses in the church.
The underground resistance in Zambales Province started soon after the Japanese arrived. Lack of arms and ammunition reduced the guerrillas ability to mount any significant attacks. The Japanese warned that for every Japanese soldier killed, ten prominent residents of the town would be decapitated. This horrifying threat, which no one doubted would be carried out, compelled the guerrillas to avoid the Japanese. Unless attacked in their mountain strongholds they confined their activities to collecting stray weapons, tracking down Filipino spies, gathering intelligence and keeping in touch with the American officers in their refuge while waiting for General MacArthur's return.
As in most other places occupied by the Japanese the soldiers in Zambales Province were often bullying and merciless. In 1942, 52 suspected guerrillas were tortured then beheaded at Olongapo. Countless people-would be slapped for the slightest real- or perceived error, a practice particularly humiliating for the Filipinos.
By January, 1945, the Japanese had all but abandoned Subic Bay. The commander of Japanese forces in the Philippines, had withdrawn his forces into defensive mountain positions and ordered the local commander to block Highway 7 near Subic Bay and he deployed the majority of his troops - 2,750 - about 3-miles (4.8-kilometers) from Olongapo.
On 29 January 1945, 40,000 American troops land at San Antonio, Zambales, located about 17-miles (27-kilometers) west-northwest of Olongapo. The column advanced toward Subic Bay, meeting their first resistance at the bridge spanning the Olongapo Cemetery on 30 January. The 100 to 150 Japanese troops, knowing that they would imminently lose the town, destroyed Olongapo. Eventually, the Japanese evacuated the town and the Americans took over.
Army engineers remained in Olongapo to begin reactivation of the Subic Bay Naval Station. Bridges, buildings and the water distilling plant were repaired and the beaches and streets were cleared. Shortly, Landing Ship, Tanks (LSTs) were making dry-ramp landings near the town of Subic.
After capture, naval facilities were installed to provide a repair base for destroyers, submarines, and small craft; major overhaul of PT engines; service and supply to fleet units, a hospital, an amphibious training center, and a receiving barracks.
The first Seabees arrived on 8 February 1945 and were immediately assigned to construction work in the area adjoining Olongapo. The first task was the construction of facilities, which included camps for a port director, communications, ship repair, and base dispensary units as well as a base camp for housing 1,200 men in 32 two-story barracks.
The base water supply was put back in operation. A 10-inch (25-centimeter) line from the Ealaklan River to Olongapo was rehabilitated, and work was begun on repairs to the 12-inch (30-centimeter) line from the Binictigan River to the ship watering point at the old coal pier. When completed, the line was capable of delivering 500,000 U.S. gallons (416,337 Imperial gallons or 1.9 megaliters) daily. A filtration plant capable of treating 810,000 U.S. gallons (674,446 Imperial gallons or 3.1 megaliters) per day was installed in the 10-inch (25-centimeter) line to Olongapo.
Additional Seabee units and built a fleet post office, a chart depot, a port director, and a dental laboratory, a total of 29 Quonset huts were erected. The establishment of a small-boat pool required, for housing, the construction of a 1,000-man frame building, six two-story frame buildings, and five Quonset huts. Waterfront facilities for small-boat operation included five Quonset warehouses to home the various shops and three regular Quonset huts for offices. Two 1,000 U.S. gallon (833 Imperial gallons or 3,785 liter) storage tanks were installed, one for gasoline and the other for diesel oil. Two small, T-shaped pontoon boat piers were constructed.
The naval base dispensary was of the advance base, Quonset-hut type. A total of 26 Quonset huts were erected for wards, storerooms, messhalls, galley, laundry, and offices.
Clearing and grading the site for an amphibious training center was started by the Seabees in April 1945. Quarters were provided by 24 Quonset huts, complete with latrines and other services such as water and electric power. A sick bay was set up in three Quonset huts, with connecting covered walkways and facilities. Other buildings erected were a Quonset warehouse for an enlisted men's messhall, a frame galley building, and a laundry with all necessary equipment.
Water was obtained from four 20-inch (51-centimeter) wells, and three 15,000 U.S. gallon (12,490 Imperial gallon or 56,781 liter) wood-stave tanks provided storage. A water treatment plant, using four 5,000 U.S. gallon (4,163 Imperial gallon or 18,927 liter) wood-stave tanks for filters and two pontoons for back-washing, was built and placed in operation during May 1945.
A site was cleared for warehouses, and on the nearby beach, a concrete apron, 80-by-400-feet (24-by-122-meter), was poured. A 400-foot (122-meter) marine railway, using pontoons to support its rails, was about 15 percent complete on 9 May 1945, when the Seabees assumed supervision of the amphibious training center project.
Construction was continued which included erection of 68 Quonset huts for living quarters, 11 for classrooms, seven large Quonset huts for lecture halls, shop buildings, and galleys.
The amphibious training center was completed with the erection of the last 15 Quonset huts, a recreation building, and a 500-man latrine. Meantime, Seabees were assigned to the construction of a 50-man beach-party camp. A 500-man wood-frame messhall was erected first; then a concrete deck and all necessary services, was placed at right angles to the messhall. Living quarters were provided in 40 wood-frame tents, with screens and wood decks. The administration building and warehouses were of frame construction. Work was completed by 1 June 1945, including installation of services and roadways.
Construction of a submarine base was the next assignment of the Seabees. Offices were set up in a 20-by-168-foot (6-by-51-meter) multiple-Quonset hut, and quarters and mess facilities were also established in Quonset huts. Access roads throughout the area were gravel-surfaced, and sidewalks were built throughout the camp. Radio facilities for the base were provided in two standard Quonset huts, placed end-to-end, with a third Quonset connected to form a T-shaped building. The structure had a concrete deck. A wood-frame building with a concrete deck was erected to house the generating equipment.
Submarine repair facilities also were constructed by the Seabees, with the help of base personnel. Enlisted men were quartered in eight 24-by-176-foot (7-by-54-meter) double-deck wood-frame barracks. A wood-frame messhall and galley to accommodate 2,000 men was provided. Laundry and ship's store activities were located in two large Quonset huts. A general stores warehouses, 100-by-135-feet (30-by-41-meters), was of multiple-Quonset construction, and a wood-frame structure was installed to protect six 650-cubic-foot (18-cubic-meter) refrigerators. Medical facilities for the base were provided in five Quonset huts.
Multiple Quonset hut construction was used to make a torpedo workshop, 123-by-200-feet (37-by-61-meters), and a shipfitter ship, 100 by 120-feet (30-by-37-meters). The torpedo workshop was later equipped with an overhead crane, and a 20-by-100-foot (6-by-30-meter) frame addition was made to the shipfitter shop for use as a compressor shed. Two electrical shops, a photography shop, and a radio and radar shop were installed in Quonset huts. A pontoon pier, complete with dolphins, was installed for cargo vessels. This was later supplemented by the construction of a timber pier.
Five-miles (8-kilometers) of gravel-surfaced roadway and four timber highway bridges were constructed to provide access to the base. To permit construction of the submarine supply center, a native village was relocated. Ten Quonset huts were built for quarters while a carpenter's shop, a packing building, and two 226-by-300-foot (69-by-91-meter) multiple Quonset huts were constructed as warehouses.
The base water-supply system was at first cared for in wood-stave water tanks erected by the Seabees. Later, three Japanese 160,000 U.S. gallon (133,228 Imperial gallon or 605,666 liter) steel storage tanks, captured at the base, were erected for a permanent base water supply.
Work at the supply depot was done by several Seabee battalions. The bulk of the initial construction, including temporary and permanent camps for officers and men, six 160-by-200-foot (49-by-61-meter) steel warehouses, and four standard Quonset huts for administration buildings.
At the naval supply depot, one steel warehouse, for which the deck had been poured and frame erected, was completed. A block of twelve 1,800-cubic-foot (51-cubic-meter) refrigerators with shelters, a power system, and a water-supply system were constructed. At Rifle Range Beach, a 1,200-foot (366-meter) timber pier was constructed to serve the supply depot.
A degaussing station was built on Agustin Point. Piles were driven to support a small finger pier at the station and a 4,000-man receiving barracks and messhall with framed tents was also built. Access roads over rice paddies, including a 120-foot (37-meter) timber highway bridge over the Matain River, and 12 acres (4.9 hectares) of open storage areas were built
A few-miles northeast of Olongapo, the Seabees put into operation a Japanese sawmill, which they had transported from Botolan. However, the output of this mill was not sufficient to supply the area. Later, the Seabees set up another sawmill near the radio station at Agustin Point, and logging roads were built into the surrounding jungle.
When the Japanese surrendered, all Subic Bay facilities were operating at capacity.
After the war, the town of Olongapo was re-established across the drainage canal on its present site, about 1,000-yards (914-meters) inland from where it stood before the war. The town was patterned after an American town with streets laid out along straight lines, both horizontally and vertically.
By 1949, it became apparent the limited facilities at Sangley Point Naval Station (q.v.) were insufficient and a new airfield was required. Civilian contractors refused to submit bids due to the difficulties involved in building such a facility out of a tropical jungle. As a result, the Seabees were assigned the task of constructing the new airfield in 1950. The base took five years to complete and NAS Cubi Point (14º47'40"N, 120º16'17"E) was officially established on 25 July 1956.
The final event for the station came on 15 June 1991 when Mount Pinatubo, just 20-miles (32-kilometers) from Subic Bay, erupted. Volcanic earthquakes and heavy rain, lightning and thunder from Typhoon Yunya passing over northern Luzon made Black Saturday a 36-hour nightmare. Nearby Mount Pinatubo erupted, covering Naval Base Subic Base with a foot (30-meters) of rain-soaked, sand ash while Naval Air Station Cubi Point had 10-inches (25-centimeters) of ash. At the time, the U.S. and Philippine governments were at loggerheads over renewal of the base leasing agreements. The destruction of so much of the facility by the volcano was the final act for the Americans and NAS Cubi Point was officially disestablished on 30 October 1992, followed by the removal of the last American military personnel on 24 November 1992 from NB Subic Bay.