Over the past century, the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard has helped the country by keeping the Pacific Fleet “fit to fight,” but it also has a special significance for the people of Hawaii. In the following pages, HONOLULU explores the past and present of the shipyard, which celebrates its centennial anniversary this month.
courtesy of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard
But for tens of thousands of us, Pearl Harbor is not just a day trapped in time. It’s a part of life. Maybe your dad retired from the shipyard after 30 years, or one of your nephews just joined the apprenticeship program. Civilian workers like them—welders, pipefitters, engineers, divers and others—have maintained the ships and submarines of the U.S. Navy for decades.
The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard turns 100 this month. Its official birth date is May 13, 1908, when Hawaii was still a territory, and Congress appropriated nearly $3 million to establish the Navy yard. It wasn’t until World War II that its workers adopted the motto “We keep them fit to fight.” They’d earned it. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Navy Yard ran round the clock, with thousands of workers scrambling to put torpedoed ships back in the water as quickly and safely as possible—one of the greatest salvage operations in naval history.
We don’t hear those stories enough. And we rarely get to see the photographs that bring them to life. With the shipyard’s centennial anniversary this month, we’ve decided to look back on its 100 years in Hawaii, with historical accounts from the people who were there and images from the photographic collections of the State Archives, the University of Hawaii and the shipyard itself.
Because we’re not just talking about a part of Hawaii’s past, we’ve also talked to the workers who make the shipyard what it is today.
A Timeline from 1887-2008
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