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NAF Midway Island

NAF Midway Island is located on Midway Atoll at the northwestern end of the Hawaiian Island chain, approximately 1,100 miles northwest of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Site of the historic Battle of Midway in June 1942, NAF Midway Island has supported various naval operations since the late 1800s. Midway Atoll was a naval base under the juristiction of Pacific Division, Naval Facilities Engineering command (PACNAVFACENGCOM).

The Department of the Navy (DoN) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on May 22, 1996, concerning the transfer of NAF Midway to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The Executive Order transferring legal enforcment authority to the USFWS was signed on October 31, 1996. The USFWS assumed custody of Midway Island when the transfer of MOU was signed, but operation of Midway did not change until the current Navy Base Operating Services (BOS) contract was completed on June 30, 1997, and the Navy left Midway.

Midway Atoll, formerly known as Naval Air Facility (NAF), Midway, is located 1,100 miles northwest of Oahu, Hawaii at the northwestern end of the Hawaiian archipelago but is not part of the state of Hawaii. Midway Atoll consists of two main islands, Sand and Eastern, with several smaller islets. The operational facilities were located on Sand Island, which has an area of 1,201 acres. Eastern Island comprises 334 acres and has been uninhabited since 1970, although it was used extensively by the Navy prior to 1970.

Midway Atoll was discovered in 1859 and claimed by the U.S. in 1867. In 1903, President Roosevelt assigned jurisdiction and control of the atoll, surrounding reefs, and territorial waters to the U.S. Navy. In 1940, the Navy established a Naval Air Station at Midway. On June 4, 1942, a Japanese armada including four aircraft carriers attempted to capture Midway and its landing strip as the first step toward a second assault on the Hawaiian Islands. Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance lead the outnumbered Americans in repulsing the invasion and sinking all four Japanese aircraft carriers.

The islands were virtually abandoned after World War II. In 1957, the airfield facilities on Sand Island were expanded to create a Pacific airborne early warning base. In 1978, the Naval Station was redesignated NAF Midway Island. On 22 April 1988, Midway Atoll was designated an overlay National Wildlife Refuge, a unit of the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex. As a component of Naval Air Station (NAS), Barbers Point, NAF Midway Island underwent operational closure on 30 September 1993.

As Naval Air Base and later Naval Air Facility, the Navy operated and maintained facilities and provided services and materials to support aviation activities. Past operations and activities included construction, fuel and oil storage, dry cleaning, pest control, refueling, aircraft and vehicle maintenance, a power plant, pesticide applications, firing ranges, landfills, and hazwaste storage.

Midway is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and enjoys a tropical climate. There are no active streams on either Sand Island or Eastern Island. There are no urban areas or urban populations on the island. While operating as a Naval Air Facility, majority of the residents were military personnel. Now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service owns the property, only their personnel and tourist groups are present. Receptors most likely to be affected by contamination include migratory birds, the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal and the threatened Green Sea Turtle.

Since 1988, Midway has also been designated as a wildlife refuge. It provides nesting grounds for several species of seabirds. In addition, a wide variety of sea creatures, including dolphins and Hawaiian monk seals, thrive within the atoll's coral reef, which extends five miles in diameter.

In 1999, in recognition of the atoll's historical significance, Congress directed the Secretary of the Interior to develop Midway as a National Memorial and establish a preservation program for its historic military buildings and gun emplacements. This was to include interpretative displays and promotion of tourist visits.

Midway was closed to visitors in January, 2002. The abundant wildlife, sparkling white beaches and historical sites were just beginning to attract significant numbers of tourists when the USFWS closed the island to visitors. "The Fish and Wildlife Service appears to be doing a good job of protecting the atoll's wildlife, but it is failing in its responsibility to develop the island as a National Memorial,"

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:52:51 ZULU