For the 1941 attack, see Attack on Pearl Harbor.
File:PearlHarbor Sm.jpg

Satellite image of Pearl Harbor. Hickam AFB and Honolulu International Airport occupy the lower right corner

Pearl Harbor is a simple embayment on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep water naval base: headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It was the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941 that brought the United States into World War II.

Early history of Pearl Harbor[]

Pearl Harbor was originally an extensive, shallow embayment called Wai Momi (meaning "water of pearl") or PuTemplate:Okinauloa by the Hawaiians. PuTemplate:Okinauloa was regarded as the home of the shark goddess KaTemplate:Okinaahupahau and her brother, KahiTemplate:Okinauka. The harbor was teeming with pearl-producing oysters until the late 1800s.

In the years following the arrival of Captain James Cook, Pearl Harbor was not considered a suitable port due to 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, [[Hawaii|HawaiTemplate:Okinai]] 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 HawaiTemplate:Okinai.

After annexation, Pearl Harbor was refitted to allow for more navy ships. In 1908 the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard was established. In 1917, Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor was purchased for joint Army and Navy use in the development of military aviation in the Pacific.

As Japanese influence increased in the Pacific, the U.S. increased the Navy's presence as well. With tensions rising between the United States and Japan in 1940, the U.S. began training operations at the base. The attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941 brought the United States into World War II.

File:Pearl Harbor aerial.jpg

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[]

Related article: Attack on Pearl Harbor

On the morning of December 7, 1941, planes and midget submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy began a surprise attack on the U.S. under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. It has to be remarked that the attack might have been no surprise as vital intelligence information about the imminent attack was not passed to the Navy commander Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and Army commander Walter Short. This attack brought the United States into World War II. At 6:00 a.m. on December 7, the six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 183 planes composed of torpedo bombers, dive-bombers, level bombers and fighters. The Japanese hit American ships and military installations at 7:53 a.m. They attacked military airfields and at the same time they hit the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. Overall, twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific fleet were damaged and the death toll reached 2,403 with 1,178 injured.

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 dry docks and machine shops service virtually all types of naval craft from submarines (including the Los Angeles class) up to aircraft carriers. The shipyard is HawaiTemplate:Okinai's largest industrial employer today, with more than four thousand civilian workers and around eight hundred uniformed personnel.

Luke Field[]

Luke Field is a section of Naval housing on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, adjacent to the USS Utah Memorial. Luke Field expanded in the late 1990s, once the Admiral Clarey Bridge was opened.

Films and books[]


  • The Final Countdown is a movie set around Pearl Harbor, in which the nuclear aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz, from 1980 is time-warped back to December 6, 1941, one day before the attack on the base.
  • From Here to Eternity by James Jones. The attack on Pearl Harbor plays a crucial role for Robert E. Lee Prewitt.
  • In an episode of Freakazoid!, the hero goes back to 1941 and prevents the attack from happening.
  • The first season of seaQuest DSV featured Pearl Harbor as the headquarters of the United Earth Oceans Organization (U.E.O.). In the episode "Games", a murderous criminal seizes control of the seaQuest's weapons system and directs four missiles from the ship towards Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, Captain Nathan Bridger had anticipated that the criminal would attempt to gain control of the weapons and ordered all the warheads to be disarmed. Later, in the episode "The Sincerest Form of Flattery", an experimental submarine piloted by a computerized profile of Captain Bridger launched a missile attack at Pearl Harbor, believing it to be part of a war games exercise.

'Historical' fiction[]

  • Tora! Tora! Tora! is a movie about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Many consider this to be the most faithful movie re-telling of the attack as it deals with many aspects of the battle with attention to historical fact. The movie's re-enactment of the attack lasts almost as long as the original event. The film shows both the Americans and the Japanese side of the battle.
  • Pearl Harbor is the title of a critically panned 2001 film about the 1941 attack. The film is billed as a love story rather than an accurate portrayal of the event.


  • At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon W. Prange is an extremely comprehensive account of the events leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack. It is a balanced account that gives both the perspective of the Japanese and United States. Prange spent 37 years researching the subjects by studying documents about Pearl Harbor and interviewing surviving participants to attempt the most exhaustive truth about what happened to bring the Japanese to attack the United States at Pearl Harbor, why the United States intelligence failed to predict the attack, and why a peace agreement was not attained. The Village Voice said about At Dawn We Slept, "By far the most exhaustive and complete account we are likely to have of exactly what happened and how and why."
  • The Attack on Pearl Harbor: An Illustrated History by Larry Kimmett and Margaret Regis is a careful recreation of the "Day of Infamy" using maps, photos, unique illustrations, and an animated CD. From the early stages of Japanese planning, through the attack on Battleship Row, to the salvage of the U.S. Pacific fleet, this book provides a detailed overview of the attack.

Alternate History[]

  • Days of Infamy is a novel by Harry Turtledove in which the Japanese attack on HawaiTemplate:Okinai is not limited to a strike on Pearl Harbor, but is instead a full-scale invasion and eventual occupation after U.S. forces are driven off the islands (something that one of the key planners of the attack, Commander Minoru Genda wanted but the higher-ups rejected). The many viewpoint characters (a Turtledove trademark) are drawn from Hawaiian civilians (both white and Japanese) as well as soldiers and sailors from both Japan and the USA. Turtledove has to date written one sequel, The End of the Beginning.

Ships currently homeported at Pearl Harbor[]

Surface ships presently homeported at Pearl Harbor[]

  • USS Lake Erie (CG-70)
  • USS Chosin (CG-65)
  • USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93)
  • USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60)
  • USS Chafee (DDG-90)
  • USS Hopper (DDG-70)
  • USS Russell (DDG-59)
  • USS Crommelin (FFG-37)
  • USS Reuben James (FFG-57)
  • USS Salvor (ARS-52)

Submarines presently homeported at Pearl Harbor[]

  • USS Los Angeles (SSN-688)
  • USS La Jolla (SSN-701)
  • USS Buffalo (SSN-715) Moves to Guam in 2007.
  • USS Charlotte (SSN-766) Undergoing extended maintenance at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Va.
  • USS Greeneville (SSN-772)
  • USS Bremerton (SSN-698)
  • USS Olympia (SSN-717)
  • USS Honolulu (SSN-718) Will inactivate in 2007 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Wash.
  • USS Chicago (SSN-721)
  • USS Key West (SSN-722)
  • USS Louisville (SSN-724)
  • USS Columbia (SSN-771)
  • USS Pasadena (SSN-752)
  • USS Columbus (SSN-762) Undergoing extended maintenance at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Wash.
  • USS Santa Fe (SSN-763) Undergoing extended maintenance at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine.
  • USS Tucson (SSN-770)
  • USS Cheyenne (SSN-773)

As part of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Navy announced in early 2006 that it would shift 60% of its attack submarines to the Pacific by 2010. As part of that shift, USS Jacksonville (SSN-699), currently homeported in Norfolk, Va., will move to Pearl Harbor in 2008. The state's namesake USS Hawaii (SSN-776) is also expected to be homeported in Pearl Harbor once it is commissioned.

See also[]


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