Subic Naval Base Losing Its Drydocks

A big blow has been dealt to the Philippines by Washington's decision to remove the three U.S. Navy floating drydocks from the Subic Naval Base. Plans had called for conversion of the area into a commercial ship repair facility.

Recently, the smallest of the floating drydocks was towed out to Guam preparatory to a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces by December. The others are due to be taken out before the onset of the rainy season in May.

The U.S. Navy will soon start laying off its 4,000 Filipino ship repair personnel, many of whom will likely seek employment in other countries, such as Singapore. Manila, which appears to have been jolted by the developments, had pleaded for the retention of the drydocks while offering a commercial access arrangement with the U.S.

Plans are now being considered by Philippine authorities to reserve Subic for commercial port operations and transfer its ship repair functions to the Philippine Shipyard & Engineering Corp., located some 8.9 miles from Subic.

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