SUBIC BAY NAVAL BASE, Philippines -- The United States hauled the last of three floating drydocks from its naval facility at Subic Bay Sunday, completing a major step in its withdrawal from the Philippines.
The USS Resourceful, with a lifting capacity of 17,200 tons, was towed toward an American repair facility in Yokosuka, Japan Sunday morning, Navy officials said.
Lt. Cmdr. Al Twyman said the British-made drydock would be overhauled in Japan. 'After that, decisions will be made where it will be transferred,' he told reporters.
President Corazon Aquino ordered the Americans to leave Subic by year end following the Philippine Senate's rejection of a proposed 10-year, $1 billion lease on the facility.
Philippine officials had hoped the U.S. Navy would leave behind at least one of the three massive drydocks, which they said were crucial to government plans to convert Subic into a commercial port and repair facility.
The two other drydocks, the USS Machinist and the USS Adept, were towed to Hawaii and Guam respectively earlier this year.
Aquino said last week she would leave to her successor the appointment of members to a new government authority overseeing the development of Subic and nearby Clark Air Base, the former home of the 13th U.S. Air Force.
The delay in naming committee members until after general elections slated for May 11 could hold back government operations until the U.S. Navy has nearly finished its pullout from Subic, analysts said.
Manila has designated Subic and its surrounding town, Olongapo, as a free-trade zone, in a bid to lure foreign investment and stave off massive unemployment with the U.S. pullout.
But many potential investors say it is unclear about who is in charge of the new zone and the latest delay will only further muddy the situation.