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Naval Base Iwo Jima was a naval base built by United States Navy on the Japanese Volcano Island of Iwo Jima during and after the Battle of Iwo Jima, that started on February 19, 1945. The naval base was built to support the landings on Iwo Jima; the troops fighting on Iwo Jima; and the repair and expansion of the airfields on Iwo Jima. United States Navy Seabee built all the facilities on the island.[2]

Naval Base Iwo Jima
Photo of Iwo Jima (Iō-tō), c.2016. Mount Suribachi is in the lower left hand corner.
Iwo Jima
Geography
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates24°46′48″N 141°19′12″E
ArchipelagoVolcano Islands
Area21 km2 (8.1 sq mi)
Highest elevation169 m (554 ft)
Highest pointMount Suribachi[1]
Administration
In country of Japan
Administration United States Navy
1945-1968
Seventh Fleet Command Headquarters on Iwo Jima August 1945, built by  Navy Seabee
Seventh Fleet Command Headquarters on Iwo Jima August 1945, built by Navy Seabee
Navy Carrier Aircraft Service Unit (CASU 52) camp and Administration Area, constructed by the 90th Seabees in 1945
Navy Carrier Aircraft Service Unit (CASU 52) camp and Administration Area, constructed by the 90th Seabees in 1945

History


With the landings on Iwo Jima, Seabees first task was to get cargo and vehicles on the island. Amphibious vehicles, Amphibious crafts, barges and amphibious ships were used to get cargo onto the beaches. Beach unloading was difficult due to the surf and sand. Marston Mats were laid to help jeeps and DUKWs onto the beach. Once the beach was secured Seabees built ship dock at the western beach. On the west beach, old ships were sunk to make a breakwater. Both old ships and concrete barges were sunk to make an artificial breakwater to form a harbor. Some of ships sunk were seized from Empire of Japan like the Toyotu Maru. Some were old Soviet Union ships like: Chetvertyi Krabalov, Caliche, and Gilyak. Other ships sunk were US Concrete Barge No. 30 and other concrete Barges. The last ship, the 12th was sunk on June 13, 1945.[3][4] On the west beach a small harbor was built to support a small boats. The other high priorities for the Seabees were fresh water and the repair and expansion of the airfields on Iwo Jima. Japanese had made 14 wells on the island, the Seabees used eight wells to build a fresh water system including water tanks. Cisterns and new wells were added to the system. The United States Seventh Fleet Command Headquarters move to Iwo Jima in newly built buildings. After clearing land mines Seabees built a Radar station on Mount Suribachi and built road to top.[5][2]

Naval Base Iwo Jima, artificial breakwater to form a harbor on west beach from April 1945
Naval Base Iwo Jima, artificial breakwater to form a harbor on west beach from April 1945

Facilities


Facilities built by the Seabee:[2]

South and Central Fields Iwo Jima 1945
South and Central Fields Iwo Jima 1945

Airfields


US Navy PB4Y-1 Liberator on patrol, PB4Y-1 operated out of South Field
US Navy PB4Y-1 Liberator on patrol, PB4Y-1 operated out of South Field

The Seabees first repaired the captured airfields. Next for Boeing B-29 Superfortress operation, the Seabees did massive earth works to get some to the needed 9,800 feet (3,000 m) runway. A number of Superfortresses made emergency landings as soon as the runway was fixed.


Seabee


Seabee on a captured Japanese steam roller
Seabee on a captured Japanese steam roller

Seabee had very high casualties on Iwo Jima.[11] Seabee were given the dangerous task of clearing land mines. Others were hit by enemy fire during unloading or construction.[2][12] Unit on Iwo Jima:

Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs) on beach by Mount Suribachi in a static display for the 58th Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima in 2003
Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs) on beach by Mount Suribachi in a static display for the 58th Anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima in 2003

Geography


Iwo Jima is a small volcanic island south of the Japanese homeland. The base took over almost all of the 21 km2 (8 sq mi; 5,189 acres) of land. Seabee built a road to the top of the highest peak, 161 m (528 ft), on Iwo Jima, Mount Suribachi on the south point of the island. Most of the remainder of the volcanic island is a flat plateau. Much of the island is covered in volcanic black-gray sand and ash. The soft volcanic ash made the movement of troops and vehicles very difficult. The black beaches have a steep rise to the plateau. Marston Mats were laid on the beaches and into the water to help. The beaches have a sharp dropped off into the ocean, producing a narrow and violent surf zone, difficult for the landing craft. The island had no natural harbors and surf can be heavy at times. The beaches had many disabled crafts and vehicles on the landing D-day. The west beach offered 3 miles of landing beaches and the east shore had 2 miles of landing beaches. Each beach was divided into zones and names of a color. The north beaches were not used as these face a high plateau. Iwo Jima is 1,200 km (750 mi; 650 nmi) south of the city of Tokyo, becoming a key base near Japan. Due to the island's small size and lack of a large harbor, it did not become a large base like Tinian Naval Base, where the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay took off from.[14][1][15][16]

Reunion of Honor memorial on Iwo Jima
Reunion of Honor memorial on Iwo Jima

Post war





See also





References


  1. "Kikai". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  2. "HyperWar: Building the Navy's Bases in World War II [Chapter 28]". www.ibiblio.org.
  3. Holderith, Peter (October 19, 2021). "Volcanic Activity Lifts Sunken WWII Ghost Ships From the Ocean Off Iwo Jima". The Drive.
  4. "My Time on Iwo Jima, by Arvin S. Gibson, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Transportation Corps, Hq. and Hq. Co., AGF, APO 86". www.justinmuseum.com.
  5. "Seabees, Marine Engineers & Their Mysteries on Iwo Jima". The American Surveyor. May 16, 2022.
  6. vpnavy.com Navy Carrier Aircraft Service Unit (CASU)
  7. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Building the Navy's Bases in World War II History of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Civil Engineer Corps 1940-1946. US Government Printing Office. 1947.
  8. "AFHRA Document 00462016 6100th Support Wing 1 April-30 June 1968".
  9. "Navy pilots are returning to Iwo Jima for carrier landing practice as Japan preps alternate site". Stars and Stripes.
  10. "AFHRA Document 00411914 6415th Air Base Squadron 1 July-30 September 1955".
  11. Magazine, Jack Cornwell, World War II (February 23, 2019). "A Seabee on Iwo Jima: The men who drove cranes and cats also served". Navy Times.
  12. Black hell : the story of the 133rd Navy Seabees at Iwo Jima, February 19, 1945 - November 9, 1945, by Kenneth E Bingham
  13. https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/museums/seabee/explore/seabee-unit-histories/ncb/62nd-Naval-Construction-Battalion.html [bare URL]
  14. "Ioto". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2021-07-15.
  15. "Iwo Jima". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  16. "Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima (D-Day)". www.nps.gov.
  17. "Japanese Surrender After Four Year Hiding". Pacific Stars and Stripes. 10 January 1949. p. 5. Archived from the original on 17 July 2013.
  18. Cook, Donald. "Capture of Two Holdouts January 6, 1949". No Surrender: Japanese Holdouts. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 11 September 2007.
  19. 山蔭光福; 松戸利喜夫 (1968). 硫黄島最後の二人 [The Last Two of Iwo Jima] (in Japanese). 読売新聞社.
  20. "Seabee Memorial Iwo Jima - Iwo Jima - TracesOfWar.com". www.tracesofwar.com.
  21. "American Iwo Jima Memorial - Iwo Jima - TracesOfWar.com". www.tracesofwar.com.
  22. "Location Former American War Cemetery Iwo Jima - Iwo Jima - TracesOfWar.com". www.tracesofwar.com.
  23. "Reunion of Honor Memorial - Iwo Jima - TracesOfWar.com". www.tracesofwar.com.
  24. "Islanders' Memorial Peace Cemetery Park - Iwo Jima - TracesOfWar.com". www.tracesofwar.com.
  25. "Iwo Jima Tranquility Hill Memorial - Iwo Jima - TracesOfWar.com". www.tracesofwar.com.
  26. "Japanese Iwo Jima Memorial - Iwo Jima - TracesOfWar.com". www.tracesofwar.com.
  27. "Memorial honoring Marines dedicated". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. November 10, 1954. p. 1.
  28. "Home". Iwo Jima Memorial.



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