What Are Some Facts About Pearl Harbor?

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Pearl Harbor, a United States naval base on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, was the site of one of the worst attacks in American history. The Japanese attack on the base occurred on Dec. 7, 1941 and concluded with the destruction of 20 naval vessels and 200 airplanes.

The surprise attack on the base, which took 110 minutes, came at a relative low cost for the Japanese forces as the base was lightly defended. The American loss of life included 1,500 soldiers and personnel, with another 1,000 personnel wounded. Although devastating, the attack did not cripple the United States forces as the Japanese had hoped. The oil storage facilities, shipyards, submarine docks and repair stations remained intact, while all of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet of the aircraft carriers were elsewhere.

In the first decade of the 20th century, the United States wanted a strategic base of operations for its naval fleet in the Pacific Ocean. Construction on Pearl Harbor on the then U.S. Territory of Hawaii began in 1908, and the base officially opened in 1911. By 1916, the base headquartered the command center for the Pacific Fleet. The site of the Pearl Harbor Memorial sits upon the remains of the sunken USS Arizona in the harbor. The naval base is also an official National Historic Landmark.