Howland Island

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Howland Island

Postby chesapeakegunner » Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:30 pm

How best to put this... perhaps a string of words and phrases would suffice for now: Bored, messing around with Google Earth, fascination with the US Minor Outlying Islands, hypothetical US Navy blimp patrol base. Guess that'll do for now?

What I've sketched over the Google Earth map is my plan for a small scale blimp base on Howland Island for the ultimate purpose of ensuring the safety of the United State's Pacific island possessions. Not permanent home to one of the Navy's dirigibles (in a better, nicer world where they actually did develop a significant LTA program), capable of handling them in an emergency yes but typically home to only one or two smaller blimps.

Established in 1918 on a temporary basis to test the viability of forward basing part of the LTA fleet; air stations were established at Howland, Sydney, and Wake Islands in addition to the beginning of the Asiatic Fleet's airship squadron. The two smaller islands (Sydney and Howland) each received one J Class blimp apiece while Wake became home base for the other four craft of the squadron. Throughout summer 1918-1919 test flights were conducted to ascertain the effective patrol range of the current fleet while at the same time taking data that could be useful once longer ranged blimps entered service and mapping better US Pacific possessions. The experiment concluded in 1920, with the final decision to establish permanent air stations on Howland and Wake islands with support facilities of varying size and permanence established at Sydney Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Palmyra Atoll, Jarvis Island, Christmas Island, Pago Pago, Tarawa not only for support of the blimp force but the brand new dirigibles entering service with the Asiatic and Pacific Fleets.

Permanently established in 1920 NAS Howland Island is typically home base of 1/3 of the Mid-Pacific Patrol Group's strength. From there blimps can reach as far north as Wake, as far south as Macquarie Island, as far east as Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines, and as far west as the coaling station at Peal Harbor in Hawaii. Navigating such long distances is perilous however, and the typical patrol is along the Wake-Howland-Pago Pago line. From 1921 to 1923 Howland housed two J-4 Type blimps of ZP-3 known as Detachment 'A'. In 1924 ZP-3A rotated back to the United States, and ZP-3E replaced them bringing two of the new K Class blimps with them. That same year a mast was built allowing the station to handle one of the large fleet airships, though to date only the Los Angeles has ever made use of it (having been blown off course by a storm and in desperate need of fuel). The mid-ocean bases are supported by a small group of auxiliary craft lead by the USS Rapidan (AO-18) that provide fuel and provisions. A stop gap measure, with the expansion of rigid airships in the Pacific Howland's viability is in question

Howland Island overhead view, as it was in 1926
Image

Closeup of NAS Howland Island, as it existed, 1926
Image
(Yes, I know it JPEG'd I'm sorry)
Last edited by chesapeakegunner on Mon Nov 07, 2011 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Howland Island

Postby PaulGazis » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:26 am

An excellent idea! I may tweak it a bit to make things consistent with my Navy List for
1926, and I'll have to crunch some numbers for fuel and ballast, but it is indeed a great
place for the USN to maintain an air station.

I like the Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howland_Island): "The atoll
has no economic activity, and is perhaps best known as the island Amelia Earhart never
reached."
:)
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Re: Howland Island

Postby chesapeakegunner » Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:12 am

Glad you think so! Ballast is beyond me, though I have done a few favorable calculations as to the fuel.

Haha, that's about all any of the minor outlying islands have going for them. That and being turned into bird sanctuaries.
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Re: Howland Island

Postby e of pi » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:58 pm

If this island is more heavily populated because of the naval station, maybe Amelia either makes it due to better charts of the area or better radio signal from more powerful transmitter or else she is found alive after ditching? Naval response could be quicker on the scene, and if there's more familiarity with the area, perhaps areas like Gardener Island are more well-known and thus any crash-related changes easier to determine? For instance, if the "inhabitation" signs spotted by the USS Colorodo's aircraft were really Earhart-related (as some have speculated), and the overflight had instead been done by pilots familiar enough with the area to know that Gardener had been uninhabited for thirty years...who knows?
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Re: Howland Island

Postby chesapeakegunner » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:14 pm

That's if she departed on her flight at all. One problem is that the NAS sits smack on the location of the runway later constructed on Howland. There's help even closer then that! I can't imagine that an aircraft could go down in the Phoenix Island chain without the Sydney Island base noticing. Rescue would probably be very quick, if she went down near or on Gardner Island.
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Re: Howland Island

Postby gpzs054 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:44 pm

hello
Nikumaroro ( also called) Gardners island? Pleas answer in miles and in compass readings. my navigational skills are very limited.
:) :) ;) ;)
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Re: Howland Island

Postby Clephan Reid » Tue Feb 21, 2012 3:40 am

Oh my, no natural fresh water resources. This means on site distilling. This means some form of fuel storage just for the distillery. And you wouldn't use salt water as ballast, since salt water likes aluminum way too much.
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Re: Howland Island

Postby chesapeakegunner » Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:44 am

Distilling plant is in the hanger. For day to day operations the current freshwater storage tanks are considered adequate, but they would be incapable of handling large scale operations.
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Re: Howland Island

Postby 7thsealord » Mon May 20, 2013 1:08 pm

Of general interest, and provides a bit more history on the area:

http://tighar.org/
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