Subic Bay – An extension of the South China Sea, its shores were formerly the site of a major United States Navy facility named U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay, which is now the location of an industrial and commercial area known as the Subic Bay Freeport Zone under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.
The bay was long recognized for its deep and protected waters, but development was slow due to lack of level terrain around the bay.
In 1542, Spanish conquistador Juan de Salcedo sailed into Subic Bay but no port developed there because the main Spanish naval base would be established in the nearby Manila Bay. When the British captured this base in 1762, the Spanish were forced to find an alternate location and Subic Bay was found to be a strategic and superb port location. In 1884, King Alfonso XII of Spain decreed that Subic was to become “a naval port and the property appertaining thereto set aside for naval purposes.
In 1899 during the Philippine–American War, the Americans captured the Spanish base and controlled the bay until 1991. During this period, the naval facilities were greatly built up and expanded, including a new naval air station that was built in the early 1950s by slicing the top half from a mountain and moving the soil to reclaim a part of Subic Bay. In 1979, the area under American control was reduced from 24,000 hectares (59,000 acres) to 6,300 hectares (16,000 acres) when the Philippines claimed sovereign rule over the base.
In 2012, controversy arose when a contracted shipping firm was accused of dumping toxic waste into Subic Bay. MT Glenn Guardian, one of the vessels owned by a Malaysian firm, had collected some 189,500 litres (41,700 imp gal; 50,100 US gal) of domestic waste and about 760 litres (170 imp gal; 200 US gal) of bilge water from the USS Emory Land, an American Navy ship. Since the Malaysian firm was contracted by the US Navy, albeit under Philippine approval, this incident ignited anti-American sentiments in the Philippines from a single militant group.