Naval Air Museum Barbers Point

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History

Naval Air Station Barbers Point

Base Property and Historical Use

Barbers Point was named for Henry Barber, master of Arthur, a 100-foot British brigantine that ran aground on the point of Oahu during a storm in 1796. The Barbers Point tale first emerged from vintage Pacific lore, when a vicious tropical depression battered the southwest coastline of Oahu. Captain Henry Barber, determined to get underway despite the storm, hoisted anchor on his 100-foot brig Arthur on October 31, 1796. All other captains held their ships in port while Arthur was deluged by wind, rain and pounding surf. The ship went down taking with it all but six crewmembers and its captain. The seven survivors struggled ashore near a tract of land referred to by native Hawaiians as "Kalaeloa" (long cape or headland), a legendary birthplace of Hawaiian Kings. Kalaeloa later became known as Barbers Point.

In the early 1930ís, the Navy leased a 3,000 square foot piece of land from the estate of James Campbell. This tract was to be used as a mooring location for the dirigible, Akron. During the 1930s the Navy leased a section of the James Campbell estate, building a 1,500-foot outlying field (OLF) near the mooring mast that had been erected for use by US Navy airships, none of which ever cruised to Hawaii. Once the original lease expired, in September 1940 an additional 3,500 acres were acquired from the Campbell estate for the enlargement of the OLF, which became Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Ewa. The site, chosen for its ideal peacetime air training atmosphere, was completed in early 1941. Concurrently with the groundbreaking, plans were already being developed for an expansion of naval aviation facilities at Barbers Point. Construction of an airfield west of Ewa began in November 1941, but was temporarily suspended after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor so that construction crews could rapidly complete Ewa.

Base construction was well underway by Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked US forces in Hawaii, marking the United Statesí entrance into World War II. Although much of the attack was concentrated at Pearl Harbor, Wheeler Air Force Base and Hickam Field, the Ewa Marine Corps Air Station (and its supporting equipment) sustained a great deal of damage. The Pearl Harbor attack, along with the increasing need for additional facilities to train pilots, led to an extensive construction project. Barbers Point--originally intended as an OLF for NAS Ford Island in Pearl Harbor--was still not complete when it was established as a naval air station on 15 April 1942 with 14 officers and 242 enlisted personnel.

The new air station quickly became a hub of aviation activity as the Navy amassed forces in Hawaii to carry the war across the Pacific. Base operations centered on working up carrier air groups and squadrons for deployment to combat operations farther west. Carrier Air Service Unit 2 was assigned to the station to support the hosted squadrons.

In addition to Naval aviation squadrons, NAS Barbers Point hosts the Coast Guard, which has been part of the station as a Coast Guard Air Facility since 1949. The facility was designated Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point in 1965 and is the only Coast Guard aviation unit located in the 14th Coast Guard District. Their C-130 Hercules aircraft and H-65 Dolphin helicopters perform search and rescue missions within the central Pacific maritime region. Aircraft also conduct water pollution patrols in the Hawaiian Islands.

NAMBP Ramp With Old NAS HQ in Background
NAMBP Ramp With Old NAS HQ in Background

Closure date, planned reuses, parcels transferred

The Navy's last naval air station in the Hawaiian Islands was disestablished during a 01 July 1999 ceremony, closing out 57 years of service. NAS Barbers Point--"Crossroads of the Pacific"--carved out of brush and coral on the leeward side of Oahu early in WW II, was turned over to the state of Hawaii.

With more than 3,800 acres and up to 6,500 military, family members and civilian employees, Naval Air Station (NAS) Barbers Point served as the largest naval air station in the Pacific theater. Barbers Point provided homeport services for numerous naval and defense organizations, including maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft squadrons, a US Coast Guard Air Station, Defense Investigative Service, Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO), a Hawaii Air National Guard (297th Air Traffic Control Squadron) air traffic control facility, Fleet Imaging Facility and Commander, Patrol Wings, US Pacific Fleet.

Source: Department of Navy BRAC PMO

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Copyright © 2006 Naval Air Museum Barbers Point
Last Updated: 08 December 2006