Pearl Harbor is a naval base and headquarters of the US Pacific Fleet on southern Oahu Island in Hawaii. For many, the name "Pearl Harbor" recalls the Japanese surprise air attack on December 7, 1941, that briefly crippled the US Fleet and resulted in the United States' participation in World War II.
Pearl Harbor was first called Wai Momi (meaning pearl waters) by the Hawaiians because of the pearl oysters that once grew there. In the years after Captain James Cook arrived there, Pearl Harbor was too shallow to be a suitable harbor.
In 1840, Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Navy urged the dredging of the entrance to the harbor. About 30 years later, Colonel John McAllister Schofield recommended that the US secure harbor rights. An 1887 treaty granted exclusive use of the harbor to the US as a coaling and repair station, but work did not start until after 1898. During the early 1900s, a naval station and dry-dock were completed.
During the 1941 Pearl Harbor Attack, the USS Arizona sank, and more than 1,100 men died. Today, a concrete and steel memorial spans the hull of the sunken ship. Japanese fighters and bombers hit American ships and military installations at 7:55 a.m. The first wave attacked military airfields on Ford Island. A second wave of torpedo bombers attacked the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. The battleship USS Arizona was hit with an armor-piercing bomb that penetrated the forward ammunition compartment. The bomb blew the ship apart, and it sank in seconds. The attack sunk nine ships and severely damaged twenty-one ships, three beyond repair. The overall death toll reached 2,350, including 68 civilians.
Today, Pearl Harbor includes a naval shipyard, a supply center, and submarine base. The entrance to Pearl Harbor is bordered by Hickam Air Force Base and a naval reservation. During the Korean and Vietnam wars, Pearl Harbor was a staging area for forces and equipment going to the combat zones.
The United States Navy, Naval Station Pearl Harbor , Port Operations Organization is responsible for coordinating, scheduling and providing waterfront services to all home-ported and visiting vessels at the Pearl Harbor Naval Complex. The Complex includes the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Deperming, and West Loch. Waterfront services include berthing assignments, pier services, magnetic silencing, and logistical support.
The Naval Station Pearl Harbor is the US Navy's busiest port, making some 65 thousand boat runs per year and carrying 2.4 million passengers and 200 thousand vehicles. Every year, the Naval Station Pearl Harbor transports more than two million visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial.
Naval Station Pearl Harbor also houses about three thousand permanent and transient personnel. The Family Service Center serves more than 55 thousand people from navy families each year with training, counseling, employment for spouses, and family programs. The Naval Station Pearl Harbor owns and operations one of the Navy's biggest recreation programs, has its own police force, and manages DOD firefighters serving 13 stations on the island.
Customers of the Naval Station Pearl Harbor include a wide range of vessels from military ships to locally-owned recreational vessels like sailboats. The customer base is primarily professional Naval officers from around the world who have years of experience in navigation, piloting, and handling ships.
The US Naval Station Pearl Harbor is charged with providing, managing, and improving shore installation services to support the Fleet. The naval station bases its success performance on innovation, diversity, and superior performance.
In 1964, the entire Navy base was listed as a National Historic Landmark, even though it contains specific landmarks from the attack on Pearl Harbor within its boundaries: USS Arizona, USS Bowfin, and USS Utah.