Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Hawaii.

Early in the morning of Tuesday 5th April “Arcadia” docked at Honolulu on the island of Oahu (O-arr-hoo) in Hawaii. The island is the third largest of the 162 islands which make up the 1600 mile long Hawaiian archipelago.

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The United States naval base of Pearl Harbour is just seven miles from the city of Honolulu so it was to be the first, if only, place on our list to visit for the day.

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Our first view of Pearl Harbour was a very tranquil one and difficult for us to imagine the carnage and devastation which it experienced on 7th December, 1941 during the surprise attack by Japanese submarine and air forces.

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The Japanese attack took the form of two raids in the early morning of Dec 7th and within 3 hours the Unites States had lost 27 battle ships, hundreds of aircraft and thousands of servicemen killed.

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There are many areas telling the story of that fateful day but the Attack Museum is by far the best place to get some idea of the horror of what happened. A fairly recent ‘find’ during some dredging work in the harbour is one of the specially developed torpedoes which the Japanese air force used to to destroy the US battle cruisers.

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The USS “Arizona” was the biggest single loss that day with over 1500 men killed on that one ship. A piece of the superstructure, a galley bulkhead, from “Arizona” is displayed in the museum.

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A model of the “Arizona” memorial was displayed. The ship was left in position together with the bodies of those men who perished in her as a memorial to all those who lost their lives during the attack. A viewing gallery has been built over the wreck for people to visit and pay their respects.

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While we waited for the launch to take us out across the harbour to the “Arizona” memorial we passed the bell which was recovered from her and now hangs on public display.

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The launch took us swiftly across from the mainland ……

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………. and towards Ford Island in the middle of the harbour. The white structure of the “Arizona” viewing gallery is just in view on the far left.

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The short journey to “Arizona” took us past several of the markers denoting the positions of the other battle cruisers also lost that day.

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As we came close to the landing jetty we could see some of the ships structure still above the water.

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From the gallery we could clearly see the base of Gun Turret No 3 …….

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….. and right against the gallery structure was the lower part of the Mast Leg.

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Amazingly, the mast leg still housed some of the original wiring and the internal access ladder.

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Another thing which could be seen was the constant seepage of the ships crude fuel oil making pretty rainbow patterns on the surface of the water.

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A special viewing area gave us sight of a lot more of the ships structure now beneath the surface ……..

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……. and at the far end of the gallery was the memorial chapel “To the memory of the gallant men here entombed and their shipmates who gave their lives in action on December 7, 1942 on the U.S.S. Arizona”.

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Every so often a ‘gloop’ of the fuel oil would rise the surface before dispersing across the water. It’s estimated that it will take another 60 to 70 years for the oil to disappear.

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Close to the “Arizona” memorial is the USS “Missouri”. Now an exhibit in it’s own right, she was the last battleship ever built by the U.S. and it was on her, on September 2nd 1945, that the formal signing of the Japanese surrender took place.

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Another little bonus of our day in Honolulu was that we went to hire a small car just get us around the island and, not surprising for any American car hire company, they didn’t have one – so they gave us a Jaguar! $43 for the day! Bargain!

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So, with the Jag fuelled up (with 2 gallons!) we did a tour of part of the island after we’d had a great visit to Pearl Harbor. A poor photo out of the car window but there are thousands of acres of pineapples on the island.

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There are also many wonderful beaches to be enjoyed although we hadn’t  planned the day as a beach day as can be seen by the way James is dressed!

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The island is truly beautiful with rivers and volcanic mountains ……..

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……….. the road hugs the coastline as the mountains form a very close backdrop to the land which is habitable.

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Sitting bang in the centre of the world’s largest ocean means the islands are prone to wind! Surprisingly, although the wind was very strong the sea state was quite calm.

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Along with the wind came the rain, which the islands are known for – around 270 days a year it rains on Oahu.

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The weather systems give the mountains a fabulous look. This is not a smoking volcano – just cloud hugging the hillside.

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Our little (wet) drive around the island ended by us taking a quick detour to see the famous Waikiki Beach. It definitely wasn’t beach weather towards the end of the day but there were still a few souls trying to enjoy themselves.

Oahu is a lovely island. It’s very well kept and the scenery is enchanting. Pearl Harbor (we’re spelling it the American way this time!) was very interesting and thought provoking – and thanks Enterprise Car Rentals for the Jaguar!

1 comment:

  1. How interesting! Somewhere I would love to visit! Why have they not removed the oil from the wreck after all this time?

    ReplyDelete