Located on the highly populated Hawaiian island of Oahu just west of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor is the historic center of events on ‘the day that will live in infamy’—December 7, 1941—when the Japanese fleet launched a surprise air attack on Pearl Harbor and other strategic military targets on Oahu.
Pearl Harbor is home base for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, controlled by the U.S. Navy. The larger Pearl Harbor Naval Complex (PHNC) is a large contributor to the island’s economy through jobs, housing, and services. In this image, Ford Island, connected to surrounding Oahu by a narrow causeway, can be seen in the center of the harbor. Pearl Harbor Naval Station and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard are located northwest and southeast of Ford Island, respectively. Waipio Peninsula, with its large soccer complex and fields, is located west of the island. The long white “ship” seen just off the southeast coast of Ford Island is the Arizona Memorial. Many submarines and battleships continue to use the busy harbor, which has been dredged deeper to accommodate them. Prominent in this image are several of the large Naval vessels, located in Middle Loch.
Pearl Harbor is actually a submerged confluence of several river valleys, formed approximately 13,000 years ago during the last glacial period. During the present inter-glacial period, sea levels have risen and “drowned” this valley. Today, Pearl Harbor provides natural drainage for several streams leading down from the two northwest-trending mountain ranges, the Waianae Range on the west of the island and the Ko’olau Range on the east, eventually leading to Mamala Bay. The Pearl Harbor area has become heavily used and populated; it is an urban subtropical watershed.
The ISS-6 Space Station crew obtained this high-resolution image of Pearl Harbor in March 2003, enabling detailed observations of the harbor and its multiple uses.