Photograph of Cavite in peacetime

Naval History and Heritage Command #NH 78381

Cavite (120.907E 14.483N) is a small city on a peninsula, Sangley Point, jutting into Manila Bay. The Spanish established a navy base here, which was taken over by the U.S. Navy after the Spanish-American War. In 1941, the base was headquarters of 16 Naval District and had extensive workshops and warehouses, including the largest Navy torpedo arsenal outside the U.S., and dry docks large enough for destroyers and submarines.

When war broke out in the Pacific, oiler Pecos and seaplane tender Langley were docked at the port and destroyers Peary and Pillsbury were undergoing overhaul. Patrol Wing 10 was headquartered at the base with 12 PBY-4 Catalinas and four J2F Ducks and a single OS2U Kingfisher. Submarine Squadron 20 was also based here with tender Canopus and rescue ship Pigeon, 22 modern submarines, and six older S-class submarines. This was the largest concentration of submarines outside the continental United States.

sPhotograph of Cavite burning after Japanese air raid

National Archives #SC 130991

The base was almost completely demolished by a Japanese air raid on 12 December 1941, a task made simpler for the Japanese by the lack of fighter cover and of any antiaircraft guns capable of reaching above 12,000 feet (3700m). The Japanese bombers were able to bomb from well about this altitude, in a leisurely and thorough manner, almost as if on exercise. During the attack, submarine Sealion, which was undergoing overhaul, was also wrecked.

Cavite was retaken by 511 Parachute Regiment on 13 February 1945, during the mopping up following the drive on Manila during the second Philippines campaign.

Road connections



Morison (1948)

Sommerville (1989)

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