Tern Island AirstripEdit
Tern Island is a tiny coral island located in the French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, at 23.870°N 166.284°WCoordinates: 23.870°N 166.284°W, approximately 490 miles (790 kilometres) west north west of Oahu. It has a land area of 105,276 m2 (26.014 acres). The island provides a breeding habitat to millions of nesting seabirds, threatened Hawaiian green sea turtles, and endangered Hawaiian monk seals. It is maintained as a field station in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
World War 2Edit
In March 1942, Japanese naval planners took advantage of the shoal's isolation to use its protected waters as an anchorage and refueling point for the long-range flying boats employed in their Operation K. In the aftermath of that attack, US Pacific Fleet Commander Nimitz ordered a permanent US Navy presence at the shoals.
After the Battle of Midway, the United States Navy built a Naval Air Station on Tern Island, enlarging the island sufficiently to support a 3,300-foot (1,000 m) landing strip; Tern Island now has a land area of 26.014 acres (10.527 ha). The Station's main function was as an emergency landing site for planes flying between Hawaii and Midway Atoll. French Frigate Shoals Airport comprises what remains of the original seawall, runway, and buildings.
After the Battle of Midway, the U.S. Navy built a Naval Air Station on Tern Island, enlarging the island sufficiently to support a 3300 ft. (1005 m) landing strip. The Station's main function was as an emergency landing site for planes flying between Hawaii and Midway Atoll. The original seawall, runway, and some of the buildings remain.
A LORAN station was operated on East Island until 1952, and Tern Island until 1979. In 1969 a tsunami devastated the islands.
The aforementioned Naval base operated from 1942 to 1946, and a U.S. Coast Guard station operated from 1952 until 1979. In 1969, a tsunami wiped out much of the station, and it had to be rebuilt.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service continues to maintain a permanent field station there. In 2000, the atoll became part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, which was incorporated into the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument in 2006. In 2009 the islands were evacuated during the approach of Hurricane Neki, by landing a USCG C-130 on Tern's coral airstrip.
A Piper Aztec has landed over 600 times at Tern Island. There are typically monthly flights to Honolulu for mail, but heavier cargo typically comes by water. An alternative is email, either by satellite phone or the island's broadband internet connection.
The old U.S. Coast Guard barracks continued to be used into the 21st century. Upgrades include the cleanup of old waste, improved water tanks, and solar power. The solar power runs a reverse osmosis water maker, capable of producing 1,200 gallons a day. There is also a diesel generator with a 500-gallon fuel tank.
In 2009, a USCG C-130 landed and took off from Tern to rescue the residents from Hurricane Neki.
French Frigate Shoals AirportEdit
French Frigate Shoals Airport (ICAO: PHHF, FAA LID: HFS) is a private use airport on Tern Island in French Frigate Shoals, a coral atoll, in Hawaii, United States. It is owned by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, as part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
Although many U.S. airports use the same three-letter location identifier for the FAA and IATA, this airport is assigned HFS by the FAA but has no designation from the IATA (which assigned HFS to Hagfors Airport in Hagfors, Sweden).
French Frigate Shoals Airport has one runway designated 06/24 with a coral surface measuring 3,000 by 200 feet (914 x 61 m) at an elevation of six feet (2 m) above mean sea level. The runway is closed, except for emergencies, or with prior permission from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Seabees in 1942 constructed the airfield. They built a 3,100-foot (940 m) x 275-foot (84 m) runway and a ramp area sufficient for 24 single-engine aircraft, dredging coral to expand the island. Of the 27-acre (11 ha) area of the expanded island, the airfield took up 20 acres (8.1 ha). The Navy designated this airfield as French Frigate Shoals Naval Air Facility, an auxiliary of Naval Station Pearl Harbor. The 1946 Aleutian Islands earthquake generated a tsunami that swept clean Tern Island, and the Navy closed the naval air facility.
In 1952, the United States Coast Guard built a Long Range Navigation (LORAN) beacon tower on the island alongside a 20-man supporting facility. The Coast Guard used the airfield for a weekly mail-and-supply flight. The Coast Guard installation continued in operation until 1979.
In 1909 it was made a part of the Hawaiian Islands Bird Reservation. The island now also provides a new breeding habitat to millions of nesting seabirds, threatened Hawaiian green sea turtles, and endangered Hawaiian monk seals. It is maintained as a field station in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Midway Atoll, French Frigate Shoals and Kure Atoll (the latter 2 are officially part of Hawaii State) are part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument\Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument of the United States in 2006.