Thursday, May 2, 2019
Palmyra Island/Atoll-- Part 1: Naval Defensive Area
A little over a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Grebe went to Palmyra Island towing a fuel barge.
Palmyra Island (also referred to as Palmyra Atoll) is in about the middle of the Pacific Ocean which gives it is strategic location. It is named after the USS Palmyra which shipwrecked on the reef there in 1802. (I can find no mention of this ship.) It is an incorporated U.S. Territory. Today it has no permanent residents.
In the 1930s, the island, because of its strategic location, was placed under the control of the U.S. Navy. On February 14, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Palmyra Naval Defensive Sea Area which allowed only naval ships and aircraft to enter the area.
The Navy established the Palmyra Island Naval Air Station there on August 15, 1941. The island was shelled by a Japanese submarine in 1941. A ship canal was blasted and dredged to the open sea from the West Lagoon.
A hotel was built by the Seabees for airmen on their way to the Pacific Front.
After the war, much of the air station was destroyed.