What Island Is Pearl Harbor Located On?

Aerial shot of Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
Aerial shot of Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

Pearl Harbor is a shallow and protected lagoon harbor located on the island Oahu (O'ahu), in the US state of Hawaii. Most of the harbor serves as a US naval base and was the site of a large scale Japanese naval air attack on December 7, 1941, which resulted in the deaths of more than 2,400 Americans. The bombing was intended to debilitate the US Navy and discourage the Americans from engaging in war with Japan. However, the attacked ultimately caused the United States to enter the Second World War. Pearl Harbor is located near numerous cities on Oahu, including Honolulu, Aiea, Pearl, Waipahu, and Ewa.

History of Pearl Harbor

The United States developed an interest in the Hawaiian Islands in the early 19th century due to its strategic location, which could aid in shipping, whaling, and trading activities in the Pacific Ocean. In 1820, an "Agent of the United States for Commerce and Seamen" was chosen to look after American interests at the Port of Honolulu. Between the 1820s and 1830s, several American warships visited Hawaii but could not dock in Pearl Harbor because it was too shallow. In 1841, American politicians advocated for the establishment of a naval base in Hawaii to protect American citizens. Additionally, relations between mainland America and Hawaii became stronger after duty-free markets were established. In 1865, the North Pacific Squadron was created and assigned to the west coast and Hawaii. This naval squad surveyed the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and in the process claimed Midway Island. In 1867, the Secretary of the Navy assigned a permanent warship to the Port of Honolulu to safeguard Hawaiian waters, and in 1868 US Congress approved a $50,000 budget for the expansion and dredging of Pearl Harbor so that larger ships could dock. In 1875, the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States signed the Reciprocity Treaty, allowing the US to maintain a coaling and repair station at Pearl Harbor.

Naval Presence

In 1899, the US Navy established a permanent base in Hawaii following the coup d'├ętat and overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Pearl Harbor in an attempt to discourage the Americans from joining the Second World War. Although the attack inflicted heavy American casualties and destroyed a significant number of warships, it did not deter the United States from entering the war. On August 21, 1959, Hawaii was admitted to the Union as the 50th US state. The United States expanded the harbor to dock more and larger ships, and it currently serves as the headquarters of the US States Pacific Fleet.


More in World Facts