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The USS Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack

Pearl Harbor is a US Navy base located in Hawaii. It was the scene of an attack on 7th December 1941, performed by 2 waves of Japanese fighters and bombers which decimated the Navy's Pacific Fleet and ultimately brought the United States into World War II. It is still known today as the "Day of Infamy".

Over 2,400 American casualties, 188 US planes destroyed, and 8 damaged or destroyed battleships, including the sunk USS Arizona, were left behind by the surprise attack.[1]


Pearl Harbor is mentioned in the accounts of early Pacific voyages as "Wai-Momi"--literally, the "Water of the Pearl" or "Pearl Water." It is also mentioned in early accounts as "Pearl River" and "Pearl Lochs."

The earliest discoverers, explorers, and traders who wrote accounts of their visits to the Sandwich Islands, seem to have given the most of their attention to the Islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai. The first published description of Pearl Harbor appears to be the one mentioned in Captain Nathaniel Portlock's journal, printed in 1789, of his experiences on a voyage if discovery in command of the British vessels King George and Queen Charlotte.

From 1786 until the publication in 1845 of the record of Commodore Wilkes' visit with the U.S. exploring expedition there is only casual mention of Pearl Harbor by those who left accounts of their visits to the islands. Captain George Vancouver, reporting on the visit which he made on the HMS Discovery between 1792 and 1794, records the fact that he started to make a survey of "Oporoak," as he called Pearl Harbor; but on finding that the entrance was navigable only for small craft, the survey was discontinued.

Captain John Kendrich in command of the Lady Washington, an armed merchantman operating before the founding of the American Navy, is reported to have assisted the King of Oahu in a victorious battle in the Pearl Harbor region late in 1794, operating with his crew both ashore and from small boats in the lagoon. This might properly be called America's first military activity in Pearl Harbor.

Captain Archibald Campbell in his A Voyage Around the World from 1806 to 1812, gives quite an accurate description of a reconnaissance of the shoreline and waters of Pearl Harbor, which he called "Wyumme," with a description of Ford Island, which was then known as "Rabbit Island."

Peter Corney, one of the earliest white settlers of Oahu, reported in 1818 that the depth of the water at Pearl Harbor was "not more than 15 feet of water on the bar or reef at high water and inside from 6 to 18 fathoms mud and sand." Corney also stated that there were many divers employed in diving for pearl oysters and that he had saved them much trouble by presenting the King with an oyster dredge. So far as can be ascertained, this is the first use of dredge in these islands.[2]


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