Back to the Future: The U.S. Navy Returns to The Philippines
Image Credit: DoD photo by Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison

Back to the Future: The U.S. Navy Returns to The Philippines


U.S. and Philippine officials recently confirmed that Subic Bay – a natural harbor 80 km north of Manila that was the US 7th Fleet’s home until 1992 – is going to be playing a much larger role in U.S. Pacific Fleet deployments from now on.

The former U.S. naval port and its air station, now known as Subic Bay Freeport Zone, is set to host U.S. ships, marines and aircraft on a semi-permanent basis. To compare it to a relationship: the U.S. isn’t moving back in, but it’s going to be leaving a few things at the apartment. And it’s a bit more than just a toothbrush.

“There are very few ports that can accommodate naval assets and naval carriers, and one of them is Subic,” said Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Visiting Forces Agreement Director Edilberto Adan, who was speaking to reporters aboard USS Bonhomme Richard, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. Bonhomme Richard was just one U.S. ship that was at Subic Freeport in preparation for PHIBLEX 2013 – a 10-day annual amphibious exercise involving U.S. and Philippine Marines that began its 29th iteration earlier this month.

Adan explicitly linked Subic to the U.S. military’s much-heralded shift of emphasis to the Pacific theatre. “As the U.S. begins to implement [the rebalance], Subic will play an important role because it is one of the important facilities that can service its presence in the Pacific,” he said.

In some ways, the increase in troop and platform rotations is similar to the deal that the U.S. and Australia unveiled in November 2011 that will eventually see 2,500 U.S. Marines train in Darwin. Unlike that arrangement, however, Subic will be hosting a lot of U.S. hardware and will also act as a support and servicing facility for the U.S. Navy. AMSEC, a subsidiary of U.S. shipbuilder Huntingdon Ingalls Industries announced in April that it would set up a maintenance, repair, and logistics hub at Subic using facilities owned by Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction (HHIC).

At the time, AMSEC’s Mark Balmert told IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly that “Subic Bay was attractive to the navy in past years because of location and costs, and we are hopeful that it will be in the future as well.”

This announcement, like any strategic change, prompts a number of questions on its true significance.

It’s possible to see the decision as a natural development of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that Manila signed with the United States in 1999. That agreement, which was not without its opponents in the Philippines and came only seven years after Subic had closed down as a U.S. base, was first invoked in 2002 when U.S. special forces arrived in support of Operation ‘Enduring Freedom’, working alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other Islamist groups in the south of the country.

September 8, 2013 at 12:47

You can not join the US Navy unless you are a US citizen on are a US Permanent Resident who lives in the US.

Please see the US navy's official site from the US government.

You must be a U.S. citizen or, if you’re a non-citizen, you may join the Navy if you entered the United States on a permanent residence visa or have an Alien Registration Green Card and have 1) established a bona fide residence, and 2) established a home of record in the United States."

February 1, 2014 at 04:06

Before the closure of CAB and Subic Bay in 1992, the Philippines was the only foreign countries allowed by the US Navy to recruit as Seaman or E1 grade level. Right after the Spanish American War of 1898, the US Navy started recruiting Filipinos as cooks, bus boys and other low level grunt work task. Thanks to Adm Elmo Zummwalt for doing drastic changes in the US Navy that pave way for Filipino sailors to be a Master CPO’s and Officers.

April 7, 2013 at 21:29

Good day Sir William, I'm a Filipino and I wish to join the U.S. Navy where can I find a recruiter? or are there US Navy recruiter here in the Philippines? Thank You Sir and God Bless


Roger Mendaros
February 21, 2013 at 13:49

I appreciate so much the attention given by the U.S of A in keeping an eye on the Philippines from being bullied by  a neighbor interested in encroaching to the oil rich areas owned by the Philippines.

February 5, 2013 at 23:38

Anyone have any leads on civilian jobs over there? Would be greatly appreciated

February 3, 2013 at 21:31

Fedo; You'll need to contact the following training facility and email or they can directly to the nearest place. I'm retired USN; they practically paid for my Masters Degree in Electronic Engineering not too long ago. They have excellent training and can help your education too.
Good luck to you.
Recruit Training Center, San Diego, CA

January 25, 2013 at 00:23

          It is difficult to post to Xinua or Globaltimes website if your topic is against China. This site looks to me as pro Western Website and I'm glab I found this kind of site which is less hostile towards Vietnamese, Filipinos and Japanese.
         I have use Global times and and read its post,  there are too much animosity between China and its neighboring  countries, in the digital sphere.

fedo EDORH
January 22, 2013 at 01:13

good afternoon just to ask a question i would like to inter us navy what can i do  i cone from TOGO thanks

January 21, 2013 at 15:14

Thank you China's bullying it is now easy for the US so ask people from PHL to let the US back to the PHL

Alpha roger
December 31, 2012 at 00:26

To get along china must go along. Rest is conversation

Patrick C McDonald
December 31, 2012 at 00:00

We cannot let our Philippine Friends and Families down. They have been faithful loyal and considerable nice people. God Bless these beautiful people and their hospitable culture. Plus God Bless all the gentle people of Vietnam and South East Asia. May they never be abandoned nor misunderstood. i know Russia is just as concerned about Big China. They just don't come out and say it. Communism has set back Big China and Russia for far too long. They are fixing the problems to incorporate into the international commercial world trade system. It's been a long haul revamping and breaking through the glass ceiling of former authoritarian nationalistic government. Putin who is a reverent Christian has been a main stay holding the Russian Federation together after the dissolution of the old style Soviet system. Many in The Duma are millionaires and billionaires. i believe the rich do not like war. The Chinese leadership structure high up in government many are billionaires and millionaires. i believe the rich contest but do not war either. The rich have much more to loose than the poor. Delusional people think war is a good way of life;That it is glorious;But in reality war is ugly unforgiving and the impact on populations unscrupulous. The venture and the fortunes of war are not guaranteed nor is the safety of those of whom believe being in the rear with the gear;the factories the schools the central business districts the agriculture nor are they safe. War is more dangerous and with exacting precision more keen than ever before in the history of man kind. Whole sale populations can easily be destroyed the air contaminated with fall out and clean nukes will get the job done but remember how Europe was starving  WWII. Even America suffered rationing and food shortages. Even if we hate war;There are people believing in the old ways; The old rituals that they have the right to nationalize and to secure geo political ancient rights of the discovered and undiscovered natural resources of a once royal dynasty. If the factories in Big China shut down and the mass population scream for food and order; Those in power to sustain to maintain power may turn their people away from their own government to blame. The people will be pitted in wars to keep them under control and the authoritarian system well seated in its place of central power. To prevent war countries prepare for war. Aggressive claims for the natural resources of other countries is what may have goaded the Rise of a devine right living man god  Imperialist Empire back in the day before America really got stuck into the war of WWII. POPSCI Magazine = China's secret air force. They've come a long way. No more paper tiger. Respect for each other, diplomacy and preparation for the worst case scenario may prevent limited and globalized scathing horrific warfare. Please donate to Saint Jude Charity for all the good work they do to help little children stricken with cancer regardless of the children's family income . Peace because when Hellz ah poppin…it's really poppin.

December 27, 2012 at 06:12

What is needed is a total ban on Lawyers in Politics, then we would notice better quality of Government.

February 15, 2014 at 02:07

No one trained in the law to work in govt? You must know that the founding fathers included people trained in law?

December 26, 2012 at 20:31

I am living in China Forrest over 10 years. What I have learned from Chinese Navy officers is: they have an equal number of warships compared with Japan. they only have around 3000 well trained navy personal..which is one of the key navy bases. They have aircraft carrier(s) from Russia, but some of the functions the Russian didnt show them how to use……so far the threat in the Chinese sea.
hahahaha.   Besides they haven any combat experience at all!!!!!!!!

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