Satellite image of Pearl Harbor. Hickam AFB and Honolulu International Airport occupy the lower right corner
Pearl Harbor is a complex embayment on the island of O'ahu, Hawai'i, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a US Navy deep water naval base: headquarters of the US Pacific Fleet.
The attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan on 7 December 1941 brought the United States into World War II.
On the morning of December 7, 1941, planes and midget submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy issued a surprise attack on the US under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. This attack brought the United States into WWII. At 6:00 a.m. on December 7th the six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 181 planes composed of torpedo bombers, dive-bombers, horizontal bombers and fighters. The Japanese hit American ships and military installations at 7:53 a.m.. They attacked military airfields at the same time they hit the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. Overall, twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged, aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged, American dead numbered 2,403. That figure included 68 civilians, and there were 1,178 military and civilian wounded.
History of Pearl Harbor before 1941
Originally an extensive, shallow inlet or bay called Wai Momi, meaning "Water of Pearl", or Pu'uloa, by the Hawaiians, Pearl Harbor was regarded as the home of the shark goddess Ka'ahupahau and her brother Kahi'uka .
The harbor was teeming with pearl-producing oysters until the late 1800's. In the early days following the arrival of Captain James Cook, Pearl Harbor was not considered a suitable port due to the shallow water.
The United States of America and the Hawaiian Kingdom signed the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 as Supplemented by Convention on December 6, 1884 and ratified in 1887. On January 20, 1887, the United States Senate allowed the Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base (the US took possession on November 9 that year). As a result, Hawai'i obtained exclusive rights to allow Hawaiian sugar to enter the United States duty free. The Spanish-American War of 1898 and the desire for the United States to have a permanent presence in the Pacific both contributed to the decision to annex Hawaii.
After annexation, Pearl Harbor was refitted to allow for more navy ships. In 1908 the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard was established. Schofield Barracks, constructed in 1909 to house artillery, cavalry and infantry units, became the largest Army post of its day.
In 1917 Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor was purchased for joint Army and Navy use in the development of military aviation. As Japanese presence increased in the Pacific, the US increased the ships' presence there.
With tensions rising between the United States and Japan in 1940, the US began training operations at the base. The attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan on 7 December 1941 brought the United States into World War II.
Aerial view of Pearl Harbor, Ford Island in center. The Arizona memorial is the small white speck on the far right side close to Ford Island
Pearl Harbor after December 7, 1941
See the article Attack on Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard
Established as the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard in 1908, this former coaling station has grown to play a central role in maintaining the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet. It is the largest naval repair facility in the broad expanse of the Pacific between the west coast of the United States and the Far East. The Shipyard was heavily involved in repairing the Pacific Fleet following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Its drydocks and machine shops can and do service virtually all naval craft from submarines (including the 688-, or Los Angeles class submarine) up to aircraft carriers. The Shipyard is Hawaii's largest industrial employer today, with more than four thousand civilian workers and about eight hundred uniformed personnel.
Related Films and Books
- The Final Countdown is another movie dealing with Pearl Harbor. In which the USS Nimitz from 1980 is warped back to 1941, a day before the attacks.
Pearl Harbor is also the title of a 2001 film about the 1941 attack.
- Tora! Tora! Tora! is yet another movie dealing with Pearl Harbor. This one (which many believe is the best Pearl Harbor movie ever made) deals with all aspects of the attack. The movie's rendition of the attack on Pearl Harbor lasts almost as long as the original event.
Last updated: 10-14-2005 10:16:12