by Jack McKillop
The Marshall Islands are a group of 29 atolls, five islands and about 900 reefs in the Central Pacific between 5°30'N to 15°N and 161°E to 172°E centered on 09°N, 168°E. This places the islands about 715-miles (1,151-kilometers) south of Wake Island; 2,420-miles (3,895-kilometers) west-southwest of Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii; 520-miles (837-kilometers) northwest of Makin Island in the Gilbert Islands; and 1,600-miles (2,725-kilometers) east-southeast of Guam in the Mariana Islands. The total land area is about 70-square-miles (181-square-kilometers). The islands extend north-to-south for over 700-miles (1,127-kilometers) forming two groups: the Ratak Chain and the Ralik Chain (meaning "sunrise" and "sunset" chains). A number of these atolls and islands were bombed during World War II, i.e., Ailinglaplap Atoll, Arno Atoll, Aur Atoll, Eniwetak Atoll, Jaluit Atoll, Kwajalein Atoll, Majuro Atoll, Maloelap Atoll, Rongelap Atoll and Wotje Atoll.
The first European to visit the islands was Spanish explorer Alonso de Salazar in 1526. In 1788, British Captain John Charles Marshall together with Thomas Gilbert came to the islands.. However, they were claimed under the Spanish sovereignty as part of the Spanish East Indies and in 1874, the Spanish sovereignty was recognized by the international community. They were sold to Germany in 1884 through papal mediation and a German trading company settled on the islands in 1885. They became part of the protectorate of German New Guinea some years later.
In 1914, Japan joined the Allied powers during World War I. On 29 September 1914, Japanese troops occupied Eniwetak Atoll and on 30 September Jaluit Atoll the administrative center of the Marshall Islands. After the war,, Germany renounced all its Pacific possessions, including the Marshall Islands on 28 June 1919 and on 17 December 1920, the Council of the League of Nations approved the mandate for Japan to take over all former German colonies in the Pacific Ocean located north of the equator.
The Japanese were unlike the German Empire which had primarily economic interests in Micronesia. Despite its small area and few resources, the absorption of the territory by Japan would to some extent alleviate Japan's problem of an increasing population but an ever decreasing amount of available land to house it. During its years of colonial rule, Japan moved more than 1,000 Japanese to the Marshall Islands although they never outnumbered the indigenous peoples as they did in the Mariana and Palau Islands. During the 1930s, one third of all land up to the high water level was declared the property of the Japanese government.
In the 1930s, the Japanese began constructing air bases on several atolls. The Marshall Islands were in an important geographical position, being the easternmost point in Japan's defensive ring at the beginning of World War II.
In the summer of 1943, the Allied high command approved an undertaking to seize the Marshall and Caroline Islands as a first step in an advance across the Central Pacific. In July 1943, the Navy was charged to prepare for seizure of the Marshalls on or about 1 February 1944. Between January and February 1944, U.S. forces captured three atolls, Eniwetok, Kwajalein and Majuro and the U.S. Navy built bases on all three.
In 1947, the United States, as the occupying power, entered into an agreement with the United Nations Security Council to administer much of Micronesia, including the Marshall Islands, as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. On 1 May 1979, in recognition of the evolving political status of the Marshall Islands, the U.S. recognized the constitution of the Marshall Islands and the establishment of the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The constitution incorporates both American and British constitutional concepts. The islands signed a Compact of Free Association with the U.S. in 1986 and trusteeship was ended under U.N. Security Council Resolution 683 of 22 December 1990. On 17 September 1991, the Republic of the Marshall Islands was admitted to the U.N.
Eniwetok, U.S. Advanced Fleet Anchorage, Naval Air Base, and Naval Operating Base
Eniwetok (now Enewetok) Atoll (11°30' 12"N, 162°13'46"E) is an atoll in the Ralik Chain. It is circular in shape with 40 islets around a 394-square-mile (1,020-square kilometer) lagoon that is 23-miles in diameter, 64-miles (103-kilometers) in circumference and a maximum elevation of 15-feet (24-kilometers). The lagoon has three entrances and can accommodate up to 2,000 ships. The atoll lies about 326-miles (525-kilometers) northwest of Kwajalein Atoll.
In November 1942, the Japanese began building an airfield on Engebi Island (11°39' 47"N, 162°14' 23"E) at the northern end of the atoll. The airfield was completed in November 1943, but since it was used only for refueling planes flying between Truk Atoll in the Caroline Islands and islands to the east, no flying personnel were stationed there and the island had only token defenses. The Japanese also built a seaplane base on Parry Island (11°24' 03"N, 162°22' 13"E). When the Gilbert Islands fell to the U.S. in November 1943, a brigade of the Imperial Japanese Army was assigned to defend the atoll, arriving on 4 January 1944. Of the 3,940 men within the brigade, 2,586 were left to defend Eniwetok Atoll, supplemented by aviation personnel, civilian employees, and laborers, but they were unable to finish fortifying the island before the American assault. During the Battle of Eniwetok in February 1944, the U.S. captured Eniwetak in a five-day amphibious operation, with major combat on Engebi Island, which was the most important Japanese installation on the atoll. Combat also occurred on the main islet of Eniwetok, located in the southeastern corner of the atoll and on Parry Island north of Eniwetok Island.
Eniwetok Island (11°20' 47"N, 162°20' 13"E) is 2-miles (3.2-kilometers) long and 440-yards (402-meters) wide at the southern end. Engebi Island (11°39' 49"N, 162°14' 23"E) is triangular, each side measuring 1-mile (1.6-kilometers), and has a good landing beach on the lagoon side. Parry Island (11°24' 03"N, 162°22' 13"E) is 2-miles (3.2-kilometers) long and about 600-yards (549-meters) wide near the north end with a sandy beach on the lagoon side.
A Marine regiment and elements of an Army regiment captured Eniwetok Atoll in a swift amphibious operation that lasted less than five days. Marines landed on Engebi Island on 18 February 1944 and captured it the same day. The next day, Army and Marine troops landed on Eniwetok Island and captured it on the 21st. On the 22nd, Marines landed on Perry Island and secured it the same day.
Eniwetok Atoll was to be developed principally as a Navy and Marine air base and a fleet anchorage, with no shore facilities other than a recreational area.
The Seabees arrived on Eniwetok Island between 21 and 27 February, and immediately began clearing for a bomber airfield (11°20' 28"N, 162°19' 39"E). On 11 March, the first plane, a PBY-5A Catalina, landed and on 5 April, the first mission by permanently based bomber squadrons was flown from the airfield by PB4Y-1 Liberators. The completed field, 6,800-feet (2,073-meters) long and 400-feet (122-meters) wide, had two taxiways, facilities for major engine-overhaul, and housing for aviation personnel in Quonset huts. The airfield was developed as a springboard for the occupation of the remaining Marshall Islands and Naval Air Base Eniwetok was established on 10 May 1944. The airfield was named Stickell Field in honor of Lieutenant John H. Stickell, who died from wounds received in action during a low-level attack on Jaluit Atoll. Several squadrons staged through Eniwetok during the Marshall Islands campaign.
As activities increased, land area became insufficient to support these activities properly. To overcome this difficulty, Quonset huts were erected atop one-story buildings, a measure which proved very practical.
On Parry Island, the Seabees developed a seaplane base (11°24' 30"N, 162°22' 10"E), using the existing Japanese ramp, and provided a coral-surfaced parking area, and shops for minor aircraft and engine overhaul. This base was capable of supporting one squadron of patrol bombers, but activities were limited by the existence of only one ramp and by tides which were unfavorable to beaching activities. Beginning in February and March 1944, PBY-5A Catalinas and PB2Y-3 Coronados operated from Parry Island.
Wrigley Airfield (11°39' 55"N, 162°14' 17"E), on Engebi Island, was built to support four squadrons of Marine fighters until sufficient space on Eniwetok Island became available for their operation. The Seabees arrived at Engebi on 11 March 1944, and took over development of this airfield from the Army aviation engineers. Aviation facilities, when completed, included a fighter runway, 3,950-by-225-feet (1,205-by-69-meters), taxiways with 150 hardstands, and engine-overhaul. The first aircraft, F4U-2 Corsairs, arrived on 27 February followed by SBD-5 Dauntlesses two days later. Wrigley Field was decommissioned on 18 September 1944, and by May 1945, all activities except a token garrison had been transferred to Eniwetok Island.
A tank farm of twelve 1,000-barrel (42,000 U.S. gallon or 34,972 Imperial gallon or 158,987 liter) tanks, with piping, a floating pipe-line, 1,200-feet (366-meters) long, and a tanker mooring, was completed for aviation gasoline on Eniwetok Island by May 1944. An aviation-gasoline tank farm, with a capacity of 146,000 U.S. gallons (121,570 Imperial gallons or 552,670 liters) and all appurtenances, was also erected on Engebi.
Two coral-fill piers, one 80-feet (24-meters) and the other 150-feet (46-meters) long, were built on Eniwetok Island, and two beaches were developed for landing craft, tanks (LCTs). Small-boat-repair shops were also built, and a floating dock for small ships was assigned to the base. At Parry Island, a marine railway was installed on an existing Japanese pier, and boat-repair shops were also erected. The Seabees repaired a 30-by-150-foot (9.1-by-46-meter) Japanese pier at Engebi, with timber piling, to accommodate small craft, including landing craft, mechanized (LCMs).
Medical facilities were provided by three dispensaries with a total capacity of 200 beds, one each at Eniwetok, Engebi, and Parry islands. Quonset huts and tents were erected for base storage and housing.
In June 1945, the Seabees built a fleet recreation area for 35,000 men and to extend carrier-aircraft service-unit facilities at Parry Island.
Naval Air Base Eniwetok was disestablished on 23 June 1947.
Between 1948 and 1958, Eniwetok Atoll was used for nuclear bomb tests as part of the Pacific Proving Grounds. After the local residents were evacuated, a total of 43 nuclear tests were conducted including the first hydrogen bomb test on 31 October 1952 which vaporized the islet of Elugelab in the northern part of the atoll. Local residents were permitted to return in the 1970s after the atoll had been decontaminated.
Kwajalein, U.S. Naval Air Base and Naval Operating Base
Kwajalein Atoll (09°08'N, 167°30'E) is one of the world's largest coral atolls as measured by area of enclosed water. Comprising 97 islands and islets in the Ralik Chain, it has a land area of 6.3-square-miles (16-square-kilometers), and surrounds one of the largest lagoons in the world, with an area of 839-square-miles (2,174-square-kilometers). The atoll is about 78-miles (126-kilometers) long from northwest to southeast with a maximum width of 18-miles (29-kilometers)..
To support air offensives against, and maintain surveillance over, the by-passed Japanese bases in the Marshall and the Caroline Islands, an advance air base, with minor fleet facilities, was established in the atoll. Complete facilities were to be provided for the operation of landplanes and seaplanes.
Land areas large enough to be developed are found on only three islands in the atoll, Kwajalein Island (08°43' 16"N, 167°43' 57"E) and neighboring islands at the southeastern end, Roi Island (09°23' 47"N, 167°28' 29"E) and nearby islands at the northern end, and Ebadon Island (09°19' 41"N, 166°49' 27"E) at the western end. The southern islands are covered with a dense growth of coconut trees and smaller vegetation; the islands to the north are wooded.
The Kwajalein area includes Kwajalein Island and the islands on the reef for 12-miles (19-kilometers) to the north and 10-miles (16-kilometers) to the northwest. Ebeye Island (08°46' 59"N, 167°44' 14"E) lies 2.5-miles (4.0-kilometers) north of Kwajalein Island, and is separated from the latter by an unbroken reef. Ebeye is 1,770-yards (1,618-meters) long and 230-yards (210-meters) wide throughout most of its length. Kwajalein Island, crescent-shaped and open to the lagoon on the northwest, is about 3-miles (4.8-kilometers) long and varies in width from 1,000-to-2,500-feet (305-to-762-meters).
In the Roi Island area, considerable land exists only on Roi and Numar islands. Roi is 1,250-yards (381-meters) long and 1,170-yards (357-meters) wide. Numar, to the east of Roi and connected with it by a narrow strip of land, is 890-yards (271-meters) long and 800-yards (244-meters) wide.
Kwajalein Atoll had been highly developed as a military base by the Japanese. A major air base existed on Roi Island, and on Numur Island, connected by a causeway to Roi, were barracks, warehouses, a radio station, and a 450-foot (137-meter) L-shaped pier extending into the lagoon. Kwajalein Island contained many buildings, some of which were used as warehouses for a supply center. A 2,000-foot (610-meter) pier extended from the lagoon side of the island. An airfield, 400-by-5,000-feet (122-by-1,524-meters), had also been completed. Ebeye Island was the site of a seaplane base with hangars, two ramps, and an L-shaped pier.
On 1 February 1944, elements of the 4th Marine Division invaded Roi and Numar Islands while the Army’s 7th Division landed on Kwajalein Island. Roi-Numar was secured the next day. Kwajalein and Ebeye Islands were secured on 4 February and the whole atoll was secured by 7 February.
Roi and Namur: Roi and Numur were originally separate islets that were joined by a causeway built predominately by Korean conscripted laborers working under the Japanese military.
The uprooting of all vegetation and the almost-complete destruction of Japanese facilities by the assault force caused a tremendous accumulation of debris. Before any progress could be made in setting up camp and storage areas, beach development, or airfield construction, it was necessary for the Seabees to remove the debris as quickly as possible.
Of the three Japanese oil-surfaced runways, the runway measuring 300-by-4,300-feet (91-by-1,311-meters), was the first to be reconstructed. The existing runway was ripped up and resurfaced. On 12 February, Japanese flying boats bombed the airfield setting fire to a bomb dump and destroyed supply concentrations. The first Marine F4U-1 Corsairs arrived on 15 February followed by F4U-2 night fighters. They operated from the base as construction continued.
The Seabees continued the airfield construction and the airstrip was named Dyess
Field on 16 April 1944. The east-west Japanese runway, lately used as a storage area, was reconstructed by May 1944, with a 2,200-foot (671-meter) taxiway, and a concrete parking area was also provided. The third Japanese runway was then resurfaced for an additional repair and parking area. Including fighters, light bombers, and patrol planes, 100 planes were now based on Roi. The field was commissioned on 14 May, with the mission of servicing patrol seaplanes and tenders. Daily missions operated against bypassed Japanese installations in the Marshall Islands, i.e., Jaluit Atoll, Maloelap Atoll, Mille Atoll and Wotje Atoll.
On 5 March 1944, the Seabees began construction of an aviation supply depot, which was commissioned on 10 June. Roi was strategically located for use as a center to supply aviation materials to bombing missions against islands of the Marshalls and Marianas. Considerable amounts of supplies from this base also were used in support of the Marianas landings.
The Seabees also erected a 4,000-barrel (168,000 U.S. gallon or 139,889 Imperial gallon or 635,949 liter) tank farm, with necessary piping; provided hospital facilities at three dispensaries, having a combined capacity of 300 beds; and erected housing accommodations of floored tents, Quonset huts, and barracks for all military activities.
As there were no deep-water waterfront facilities in the area, a 4-by-30-foot (1.2-by-9.1-meter) pontoon pier was assembled and a Japanese L-shaped pier, 450 by 33-feet (137-by-10-meters), was used extensively to unload supplies from small craft. Repair installations consisted of overhaul shops for small-boat motors and a 4-by-15-foot (1.2-by-4.6-meter) pontoon drydock for 100-ton (91 metric tonne) capacity for aircraft rescue boats, picket boats, and landing craft, mechanized (LCMs). Connecting causeways and a perimeter road for each island were also constructed.
Coral found on the islands was not of proper quality for use in surfacing, due to the large percentage of coarse sand, which resisted binding, consequently coral for surfacing purposes was taken from the lagoon. Native woods were used for minor construction, and native labor was employed on clean-up and sanitation details.
Kwajalein Island: The Seabees reported on Kwajalein Island in March 1944, and set up headquarters on near-by Gugegwe Island (08°50' 57"N, 167°44' 37"E). This island had apparently been used by the Japanese as a supply base and for the repair of small craft. A marine railway with a capacity of 250-tons (227-metric-tonnes) had been damaged by shelling, but was restored to usefulness for small-boat repair. A concrete pier, almost completed by the Japanese before the U.S. occupation, proved small but adequate, when finished for use of the boat pool. Gugegwe Island then became the site of shops for small-boat repair and overhaul, and of the Seabees camp.
A rock-crushing plant had been set up by the Japanese on Gugegwe Island and, although damaged, was salvageable for use in connection with the development of crushed coral for airstrip and road surfacing. The Seabees then rebuilt the existing Japanese runway on Kwajalein Island to provide a 6,300-foot (1,920-meter) coral-surfaced runway with two 80-foot (24-meter) taxiways and 102 hardstands for heavy bombers. One hangar with minor aircraft-repair installations, was erected, and more than 12-miles (19-kilometers) of coral roads were built in the area.
Kwajalein Airfield was used by two U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) B-24 Liberator bombardment groups during 1944. Six squadrons operated from here with the first squadron arriving on 13 March and the last two squadrons departing on 21 October 1944. The USAAF turned over control of Kwajalein Airfield to the Navy on 1 July 1945 and it was renamed Naval Air Base Kwajalein. The base continued its existence after the war, serving as a staging point for trans-Pacific flights. Longer range aircraft negated the need for the facility and it was deactivated in 1959. On 1 July 1964, the Navy transferred all of its facilities on Kwajalein to the Army. The U.S. Air Force maintained a small portion of the facility for observation of missile launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Waterfront facilities were developed to provide minor fleet repairs. The Japanese pier was restored, and a 50-by-240-foot (15-by-73-meter) boat-slip was added to the outer end, forming an L. The depth alongside was 20-feet (6.1-meters), and the pier could safely dock five landing ship, tanks (LSTs) or a large number of small craft at one time. The Seabees also constructed a log crib, coral-fill quay, 300-feet (91-meter) long, with two 3-by-12-foot (0.9-by-3.7-meter) pontoon arms, and established repair facilities for landing craft. A 250-ton (227-metric-tonne) pontoon floating drydock was assembled, and a 2,000-ton (1,814-metric-tonne) floating drydock, capable of handling destroyer escorts, was provided for the base.
Personnel were housed in floored and framed tents and in wooden frame barracks. Other base installations included the 200-bed hospital, 80,000-square-feet (7,432-square meters) of covered storage, and a 12,000-barrel (504,000 U.S. gallon or 419,668 Imperial gallon or 1.9 megaliter) aviation-gasoline tank farm.
Between June and September 1944, the Seabees erected a large fuel-oil tank farm on Bigej Island (08°53' 38"N, 167°46' 20"E), north of Kwajalein Island. This consisted of four 50,000-barrel (2.1 million U.S. gallon or 1.75 million Imperial gallon or 7.9 megaliter) tanks and fourteen 10,000-barrel (420,000 U.S. gallon or 349,723 Imperial gallon or 1.6 megaliter) tanks, with all appurtenances.
Ebeye Island: The Seabees were sent to Ebeye Island on 7 March 1944 to develop the seaplane base. As the two Japanese seaplane ramps had sustained only minor damage before their capture, construction work necessary for the development of the base, with the exception of paving the parking area and erecting shops and housing, was small.
Naval Air Base Ebeye Island was established on 14 May 1944 with the mission of servicing patrol seaplanes and tenders. Seabees completed upgrading the facilities, adding repair shops, barracks, a small clinic and storage buildings. The base was redesignated an Naval Air Facility Ebeye Island on 27 February 1947 and disestablished on 15 June 1947.
A Japanese pier, 1,600-by-30-feet (488-by-9.1-meters), with a 50-by-240-foot (15-by-73-meter) L extension, was repaired by the Seabees and a 250-foot (76-meter) Japanese H-shaped pier was also used. In addition, the Seabees assembled a pontoon wharf and pontoon barges for transporting damaged carrier aircraft to repair units ashore.
Further installations on Ebeye consisted of housing in floored tents and Quonset hut, a 150-bed dispensary, four magazines, 24,000-square-feet (2,230-square meters) of covered storage, and a 4,000-barrel (168,000 U.S. gallon or 139,889 Imperial gallon or 635,949-liter) aviation-gasoline tank farm.
Although the war moved far forward, no roll-up was contemplated at Kwajalein, as it was necessary to maintain aerial surveillance of the bypassed Japanese bases in the Marshalls and Carolines.
Majuro, Fleet Anchorage, Naval Base and Naval Air Facility
Majuro Atoll (07°06' 22"N, 171°13' 03"E), is a large coral atoll of 64 islands and islets with a land area of 3.7-square-miles (9.7-square-kilometers) and encloses a lagoon of 114-square-miles (295-square-kilometers). Located in the Ratak Chain, the atoll is 26-miles (41.6-kilometers) wide east-to-west and 6-miles (9.7-kilometers) north-to-south. As with other atolls in the Marshall Islands, Majuro consists of narrow land masses.
The surfaces of these islands are covered with coral sand which in some places had acquired a topsoil through the decay of vegetation. Rainfall is heavy, and the climate tropical.
Within the lagoon, depths run from 150-to-210-feet (46-to-64-meters) with variable sand and coral bottom, relatively few coral heads existing other than in the western portion. The channel approach contains ample depth for the largest ships, and sand beaches afford excellent small boat and landing ship, tank (LST) beaching areas.
Army scouts landed on Majuro on 31 January 1944, and found the atoll unoccupied. The Japanese forces that had occupied the atoll had previously been withdrawn to augment the forces on Kwajalein and Eniwetak.
The naval base and naval air facility were built on three islands in the southeastern part of the atoll. The airfield occupied the major portion of Dalop Island (07°05' 13"N, 171°22' 38"E), on the eastern tip, while Uliga (7°06' 19"N, 171°22' 35"E) and Darrit (now Djaritt) (07°07' 19"N, 171°21' 51"E) Islands contained the base facilities, camps, and Port Director's area.
The naval base at Majuro Atoll was established to support two U.S. Marine dive-bomber squadrons, half a patrol squadron, and temporary staging for one U.S. Army Air Forces fighter group. In addition, it was to provide Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) requirements, fleet anchorage without shore-based facilities, medical facilities, and a Loran transmitting station. Repair ships, submarine and destroyer tenders, together with tankers and supply ships, were to provide for the needs of the fleet.
Darrit Island (07°07' 19"N, 171°21' 51"E) had once been occupied by the Japanese, who left a 400-foot (122-meter) timber pier, a narrow-gauge track from the pier leading to four frame warehouses, a seaplane ramp, and two steel buildings. At one end of a cleared area a large concrete slab had been poured for a hangar and structural steel was stacked nearby, from which a warehouse was constructed. A frame building, located between the pier and the seaplane ramp, became the harbor captain's office. Several food-storage buildings in the vicinity were also utilized. Large frame native worker's barracks became the maintenance shop building. Other barracks were made into quarters for transients and a hospital; a seaplane hangar was converted into a warehouse; and smaller Japanese construction was used for various purposes.
A runway was first built by the Japanese and completed during autumn 1942 on Dalop Island (07°04' 29"N, 171°19' 26"E). The Seabees expanded it as a coral-surfaced airstrip, 5,800-by-445-feet (1,768-by-136-meters). This was used on D-Day-plus-12 for an emergency landing, and by 15 April, the airfield, taxiways, aprons, housing, shops, and piers, as originally planned, were completed. Additional construction included 10-miles (16-kilometers) of coral roadways and 2.1-miles (3.4-kilometers) of 30-foot (9.1-meter) coral causeways connecting various islands.
A dispensary, located among former Japanese quarters, was increased by the erection of Quonset huts and tents, its final capacity being 150 beds. Fuel-storage facilities were confined to gasoline-storage tanks; aviation gasoline storage was twelve 1,000-barrel (42,000 U.S. gallon or 34,972 Imperial gallon or 158,987 liter) bolted tanks set up on Biggariat Island (07°05' 49"N, 171°22' 49"E), connected by 4-inch (10-centimeter) pipes to the underground ready-gas tanks at the airfield. Delivery to the tank farm was by tanker, through a sea-loading line.
Water was supplied by distillation, the 21 stills used for this work producing about 50,000- U.S.-gallons (41,674-Imperial-gallons or 189,271-liters) per day. Storage tanks for fresh water included 25 wooden tanks of 160,000-U.S.-gallon (133,228-Imperial-gallons or 605,666-liters) capacity, four 12,000-U.S.-gallon (9,992-Imperial-gallon or 45,425-liter) canvas tanks, and two 8,000-gallon (6,661-Imperial gallon or 30,283-liter) cisterns. The water was distributed to various points by pipe line and tank trucks. A deep-water floating pier, 625-by-28-feet (191-by-8.5-meters), was constructed, and unloading operations were further facilitated by nine 4-by-12-foot (1.2-by-3.7-meter) pontoon and four 3-by-7-foot (0.9-by-2.1-meter)pontoon barges.
Storage facilities erected, in addition to Japanese structures, were tents, tarpaulin-covered shelters, and 47 Quonset huts. Ammunition was stored in several underground magazines, in three Quonset huts, and in open-storage revetments.
Shop facilities were located in 17 Quonset huts and 6,000-square-feet (557-square-meters) of tarpaulin-covered shelters. The administration buildings included ten Quonset huts and 81 tents, as well as the Japanese buildings remodeled for the purpose. On Calanin Island (07°09' 31"N, 171°12' 40"E), at the entrance to the approach channel, a signal station and a harbor entrance control post were established.
Bomb-proof shelters were constructed at strategic locations, requiring a total of 350,000-cubic-yards (267,594-cubic-meters) of coral fill. Fleet recreation facilities were also provided.
The first Marine squadron, equipped with SBD-5 Dauntlesses, arrived on 19 February 1944 and a second squadron arrived five days later. Like the Marine units on Roi Island in Kwajaelein Atoll, these squadrons were tasked with bombing bypassed Japanese bases in the Marshall Islands, i.e., Wotje Atoll, 179-miles (288-kilometers) north-northwest; Maloelap Atoll, 113-miles (182-kilometers) north; Mille Atoll, 74-miles (119-kilometers) south-southeast; and Jaluit Atoll, 137-miles (220-kilometers) southwest.
These units required the construction of two 750-man camps, shop and storage facilities. At the airfield, it was necessary to build seven Quonset huts, a nose hangar, and several lean-to structures, and to increase hardstands and apron facilities. A utility air squadron was also assigned to Majuro and required the standard number and types of headquarters buildings, shops, nose hangars, and parking facilities.
When it was decided to locate the carrier replacement plane pool in Majuro Atoll, an airstrip, 175-by-4,000-feet (53-by-1,219-meters), was cleared and paved on Uliga Island (7°06' 19"N, 171°22' 35"E) and a two-lane causeway connecting Uliga and Dalop was constructed, furnishing a 30-foot (9.1-meter) roadway. To accommodate air transport operations, a 150-by-800-foot (46-by-244-meter) apron was cleared and paved adjacent to the runway, with four Quonset huts to house office and storage facilities. Introduction of the plane pool activities demanded the doubling of carrier-aircraft service-unit (CASU) personnel, and consequent enlargement of their living and shop facilities. The fleet recreation grounds and facilities were increased, and a submarine base recuperation camp was constructed which involved all installations necessary for a 750-man camp.
By late 1944, there were over 300 fighters, scout bombers and torpedo bombers in the replacement plane pool at Majuro.
All facilities were used to capacity as numerous bomber and fighter squadrons operated from the airfield. The carrier-aircraft service unit (CASU) serviced the fleet carriers, and the plane pool serviced and furnished replacement planes. The harbor was used as a fleet anchorage and fleet recreation center. The sorting of supplies, mail storage, communications, and personnel replacement taxed the remaining station facilities to the utmost.