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Johnston Atoll (USA)

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Johnston Atoll

Johnston Atoll is a 1.03 sq mi (2.7 km2) atoll in the North Pacific Ocean about 750 nmi (860 mi; 1,390 km) west of Hawaii. The atoll, which is located on the coral reef platform, comprises four islands. Johnston and Sand islands are both enlarged natural features, while North (Akau) and East (Hikina) are two artificial islands formed by coral dredging.
For more almost 70 years the atoll was under the control of the American military. In that time it was used as an airbase, a naval refuelling depot and a weapons testing area. In the mid 1980s, the atoll became a facility for Chemical weapons disposal. In 2004 the military base was closed; island control was handed over to civilian authorities.
Johnston is an unincorporated territory of the United States administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior as part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Johnston Atoll is also grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands.

History Johnston Atoll

Early history

The first European record of the atoll was on September 2, 1796 when the American brig Sally accidentally grounded on a shoal near the islands. The ship's captain, Joseph Pierpont, published his experience in several American newspaper the following year giving an accurate position of Johnston and Sand Island along with part of the reef. However he did not name or lay claim to the area. The islands were not officially named until Captain Charles J. Johnston of the Royal Naval ship HMS Cornwallis sighted them on December 14, 1807.
By 1858, Johnston Atoll was claimed by both the United States and the Kingdom of Hawaii. The islands came under the jurisdiction of the United States following the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 with Hawaii. By 1890 the atoll's entire guano deposits had been depleted mined out by U.S. interests operating under the Guano Islands Act.
From July 10–22, 1923, the atoll was recorded in a pioneering aerial photograph project.
On July 29, 1926, by Executive Order, President Calvin Coolidge established Johnston Atoll as a federal bird refuge and placed it under the control of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Military control

On December 29, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt transferred control of Johnston Atoll to the United States Navy in order to establish an air station, and also to the Department of the Interior to administer the bird refuge. In 1936, the Navy began to develop a base for seaplanes and an airstrip with refueling facilities. On February 1941 Johnston Atoll was designated as a Naval Defensive Sea Area and Airspace Reservation.
The atoll was briefly shelled by Japanese naval units shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. But as the Pacific War soon shifted west, the island's role changed from being a combat outpost to a refuelling and resupply base for American aircraft and submarines.

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Johnston Atoll has never had any indigenous inhabitants, although during the late part of the 20th century, there were averages of about 300 American military personnel and 1,000 civilian contractors present at any given time.
The central means of transportation to this island was the airport, which had a paved military runway. The islands were wired with 13 outgoing and 10 incoming commercial telephone lines, a 60-channel submarine cable, 22 DSN circuits by satellite, an Autodin with standard remote terminal, a digital telephone switch, the Military Affiliated Radio System (MARS station), a UHF/VHF air-ground radio, and a link to the Pacific Consolidated Telecommunications Network (PCTN) satellite. Amateur radio operators occasionally transmitted from the island, using the KH3 callsign prefix.
Johnston Atoll's economic activity was limited to providing services to American military personnel and the contractors residing temporarily on the island. All foodstuffs and manufactured goods were imported. The base had six 2.5 megawatt (MW) electrical generators supplied by the base's support contractor, Holmes and Narver, using Enterprise Engine and Machinery Company DSR-36 diesel engines. The runway was also available to commercial airlines for emergency landings (a fairly common event), and for many years it was a regular stop on Continental Micronesia airline's "island hopper" service between Hawaii and the Marshall Islands.
There were no official license plates issued for use on Johnston Atoll. U.S. government vehicles were issued U.S. government license plates and private vehicles retained the plates from which they were registered. According to reputable license plate collectors, a number of "Johnston Atoll license plates" were created as souvenirs, and have even been sold on-line to collectors, but they were not officially issued.

Johnston Atoll Geography

The four islands compose a total land mass of 2.67 km². Due to the atoll's tilt, much of the reef on the southeast portion has subsided. But even though it does not have an encircling reef crest, the reef crest on the northwest portion of the atoll does provide for a shallow lagoon, with depths ranging from 3–10 m (9.8–33 ft).