World War II Launched the NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor into Prominence
Prior to World War II, one of the most remote spots in all of Pearl Harbor was Kuahua, a lonely, windswept island in the harbor's southeast loch. Over the years, however, that sleepy little island was molded and sculpted and transformed until it bore little resemblance to its original shape. Today, it is no longer even an island. It is known instead as Kuahua Peninsula and is the home to the Intermediate Maintenance Facility and the bustling supply facility known as the NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor (NAVSUP FLCPH).
Until 1940, there were few buildings and no paved roads on Kuahua. The island was separated from the shoreline by two fishponds, the 25-acre Loko Kunana and the four-acre Loko Muliwai. The two were among more than 40 fishponds that ringed the shores of Pearl Harbor.
When the 1940s were born, war clouds loomed on the horizon, and the imminent threat of worldwide conflict signaled the dawn of a new age for Kuahua. Loko Kunana and Loko Muliwai were promptly filled with silt and mud that were dredged from the bottom of Pearl Harbor. The shallows surrounding Kuahua were also filled and reclaimed from the ocean. In only a few years, Kuahua's original size of 47 acres mushroomed into 116 acres.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the supply center was still under construction and the attacking pilots paid it little attention. It was, however, one of the closest spits of land to Battleship Row; consequently, numerous survivors found themselves swimming for its welcome shoreline. The following account, written by LT Cornelius Smith, USMC, is from the book, Air Raid: Pearl Harbor:
"At Kuahua, we see men coming off the ships. They're dripping with oil, black and grotesque looking. Some are only oil-smeared, but many had to swim through fire and are hurt. We wade out chest-deep in the water to help the wounded ashore. A bunch of them are placed under a big tree." (In all likelihood, this area is now the site of IMF, at the tip of Kuahua.)
The NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor was officially born on October 2, 1942. (It was then known as the Naval Supply Depot Pearl Harbor.) War raged throughout the Pacific, and the immense value of the depot became immediately apparent. Twenty-four hours a day, fingerlifts and lumber carriers clattered up and down the depot's piers, and weary dock workers loaded endless pallets of war materiel into the yawning holds of battered cargo ships.
As the Allies battled their way across the Pacific, painstakingly regaining territory that had been lost in a few violent weeks in late 1941 and early 1942, the depot supplied their every need. Meats and coffee, ammo and oil, medical supplies, uniforms . . . all were pulled from the supply depot's warehouses, packed and crated, and shipped hurriedly to the front.
It was the depot's finest hour. It is no surprise that, at the height of the war, Admiral Chester Nimitz referred to the Naval Supply Depot as "the secret weapon of the Pacific."
Despite its rocky beginning, the command has grown to become the most important "department store" in the Pacific. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, it provides the highest quality supply and support services to its customers.
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