Edit: As we now know, the US Navy is most definitely returning to Naval Station Subic Bay, as a result of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), signed into law on April 28th, 2014, by Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.

The former Subic Bay Naval Station is now know as the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ). The SBFZ is managed by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). The terms are still interchangeable, with most people referring to it as “the base” or simply SBMA, though technically, “Freeport” would be the more accurate term.

The Naval Station is located in Olongapo City, in Zambales Province. The navy base’s old Main Gate was at the end of Magsaysay Drive, notorious (or infamous?) for the hundreds of bars and nightclubs that provided sailors and Marines with after-hours off-duty entertainment.

The US Navy left Subic in 1992, after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, and after the Philippine Congress decided the presence of the US Military was no longer desirable. The US Air Force left Clark Airbase in Angeles City at about the same time, for the same reasons.

Today, the Subic Bay Freeport is a special economic zone, allowing for special tax, customs and duty fee allowances and some special programs that allow foreigners and locals to get businesses up and running quickly. The programs include special investors visas with fast-tracked processing.

Recently, the United States has begun implementing a pivot in military readiness, moving the bulk of their forces from focusing on Europe to Asia. The US Navy has been visiting Subic Bay more often, with more frequent port visits. Additionally, the increased tensions in the region caused by North Korea and the Chinese stance on territory has prompted the Philippine government to rethink their stance on US Military presence. Subic Bay will probably never host a US military base, per se, but the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is being dusted off and will likely be enhanced in the very near future.

Subic Bay Naval Station Map