Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears, U.S. Army

Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears, U.S. Army

Japanese attack on Dutch Harbor, June 3, 1942. Group of Marines on the alert between attacks
Location Dutch Harbor, Unalaska, Alaska
Coordinates 53°54′6″N 166°31′55″W / 53.90167°N 166.53194°W / 53.90167; -166.53194Coordinates: 53°54′6″N 166°31′55″W / 53.90167°N 166.53194°W / 53.90167; -166.53194
Area 1,000 acres (400 ha)
Built 1940
NRHP Reference # 85002733
Significant dates
Added to NRHP February 4, 1985[1]
Designated NHLD February 4, 1985[2]

The Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears are the two military installations built next to each other in Dutch Harbor, on Amaknak Island of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, by the United States in response to the growing war threat with Imperial Japan. In 1938 the Navy Board recommended the construction which began in July 1940.[3] The first army troops arrived in June 1941 and the navy air base was finished in September 1941. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, these were the only military installations in the Aleutian Islands.


Dutch Harbor occupies the central portion of Amaknak Island, a small island in Unalaska Bay which is separated from the larger Unalaska Island by Iliuliuk Bay. The two islands are joined (and were in the 1940s) joined by a bridge connecting the city of Unalaska to the southern portion of Amaknak Island. During World War II the entirety of Amaknak Island was used by the United States Navy as an operating base, and by the United States Army, which manned coastal defenses on the high ground at the northern and southern parts of the island. The central portion of the island was occupied by the facilities of the naval base, which included a runway and other aircraft support facilities, munitions storage facilities, barracks, a hospital, and a bomb-proof power plant. South of the naval base was Fort Mears, a tribute to Frederick Mears which primarily consisted of barracks for the troops manning the coastal defenses. The coastal defenses included batteries placed to the north on Ulakta Head and Mount Ballyhoo, and to the south on what the army called Hill 400, but is now known as Bunker Hill for its surviving structures.[4]

Battle of Dutch Harbor

On June 3, 1942, the Japanese Navy attacked Dutch Harbor. Originally planned to start at the same time as the battle of Midway, it occurred a day earlier due to one-day delay in the sailing of Nagumo's task force.[5] 43 Americans and at least one Japanese died during the attacks, which lasted for two days. The base remained an important part of coastal defenses for the remainder of World War II.[2]


What remains of the Naval Base and Fort Mears

Shortly after the end of World War II, the US military abandoned their Dutch Harbor outposts. For decades afterwards, the buildings remained standing, generally abandoned. With the growth of the king crab fishery in the 1970s, many of these buildings were used as warehouses, bunkhouses, and family homes. In the late 1980s, the US government finally funded a cleanup of the derelict fort, and the area was turned over for commercial use.

See also


  1. National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. 1 2 "Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears, U.S. Army". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
  3. NPS Aviation History
  4. "NHL nomination for Dutch Harbor Naval Operating Base and Fort Mears, U.S. Army" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2014-11-01.
  5. Parshall and Tully, Shattered Sword, pp. 43–45, derived from Senshi Sōshō, pp. 119–121.
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