Southeast part of Kingman Reef, looking north
|Area||0.03 km2 (0.012 sq mi)|
(Land area – not including the lagoon)
|Length||17 km (10.6 mi)|
|Width||8 km (5 mi)|
Kingman Reef // is a largely submerged, uninhabited triangular-shaped reef, 9.0 nautical miles (17 kilometers) east-west and 4.5 nmi (8 km) north-south, located in the North Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between the Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa. It is the northernmost of the Northern Line Islands and lies 36 nautical miles (67 km) northwest of the next closest island (Palmyra Atoll), and 930 nautical miles (1,720 km) south of Honolulu.
The reef encloses a lagoon up to 53 fathoms (97 m) deep in its eastern part near the northeastern spit of land. The total area within the outer rim of the reef is 20 sq nmi (70 km2). There are two small strips (spits) of dry land composed of coral rubble and giant clamshells on the eastern rim with areas of 2 and 1 acre (0.8 and 0.4 ha) having a coastline of 2 miles (3 km), a short spit on the northeast side of the lagoon and a spit twice as long but thinner on its south side.
The highest point on the reef is less than 5 feet (1.5 m) above sea level, which is wet or awash most of the time, making Kingman Reef a maritime hazard. It has no natural resources and supports no economic activity.
Kingman Reef has the status of an unincorporated territory of the United States, administered from Washington, D.C. by the U.S. Department of Interior. The atoll is closed to the public.For statistical purposes, Kingman Reef is grouped as part of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. In January 2009, Kingman Reef was designated a marine national monument.
The pre-20th century names Danger Reef, Caldew Reef, Maria Shoal and Crane Shoal refer to this atoll, which by then was entirely submerged at high tide. Thomas Hale Streets described its state in the 1870s, when it had:
... hardly, as yet, assumed the distinctive features of an island. It is entirely under water at high tide, and but a few coral heads project here and there above the surface at low water. In the course of time, however, it will undoubtedly be added to the [northern Line Islands].
Kingman Reef is considered to be a county-equivalent by the U.S. Census Bureau.With only 0.01 square miles (0.03 square kilometers) of land, Kingman Reef is the smallest county or county-equivalent by land area in the United States.
Kingman Reef was discovered by the American Captain Edmund Fanning of the ship Betsey on June 14, 1798. Captain W. E. Kingman (whose name the island bears) described it on November 29, 1853. Kingman Reef was claimed in 1860 by the United States Guano Company, under the name "Danger Reef".This claim was made under by the Guano Islands Act of 1856 although there is no evidence that guano existed or was ever mined on Kingman Reef.
On May 10, 1922, Lorrin A. Thurston was the first to raise the American flag on the atoll before reading a proclamation of annexation.Thurston formally gave Kingman to the United States by reading this declaration on shore:
Be it known to all people: That on the tenth of May, A.D. 1922, the undersigned agent of the Island of Palmyra Copra Co., Ltd., landed from the motorship Palmyra doth, on this tenth day of May, A.D. 1922, take formal possession of this island, called Kingman Reef, situated in longitude 162 degrees 18' west and 6 degrees 23' north, on behalf of the United States of America and claim the same for said company.
On December 29, 1934, the U.S. Navy assumed jurisdiction over Kingman Reef.It was visited by William T. Miller, representing the U.S. Bureau of Air Commerce, in 1935. In 1937, Pan American Airways landed a Sikorsky Clipper seaplane in the lagoon during its first flight from Hawai’i to American Samoa. The lagoon was used in 1937 and 1938 as a halfway station between Hawai'i and American Samoa by Pan American Airways flying boats (Sikorsky S-42B).
Pan Am wanted to expand flights into the Pacific and include Australia and New Zealand to their "Clipper" air routes. In 1935 it was decided that the lagoon at Kingman Reef was suitable for overnight stops en route from the U.S. to New Zealand via Samoa. Kingman Reef became the stopover to and from Pago Pago, American Samoa, located 1,600 miles (2,600 km) further south. A supply ship, the North Wind, was stationed at Kingman Reef to provide fuel, lodging, and meals. The S42B Pan American Clipper II, named Samoan Clipper and piloted by Captain Edwin Musick, landed at Kingman on its first flight on March 23, 1937.
Several successful flights followed, but the flight on January 11, 1938 ended in tragedy. Shortly after the early morning take off from Pago Pago, bound for New Zealand, the Clipper exploded. The right outboard engine had developed an oil leak and the plane burst into flames while dumping fuel; there were no survivors. As a result of the tragedy, Pan Am ended flights to New Zealand via Kingman Reef and Pago Pago. A new route was established in July 1940 by way of Canton Island and New Caledonia.
On February 14, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8682 to create naval defenses areas in the central Pacific territories. The proclamation established "Kingman Reef Naval Defensive Sea Area" which encompassed the territorial waters between the extreme high-water marks and the three-mile marine boundaries surrounding the atoll. "Kingman Naval Airspace Reservation" was also established to restrict access to the airspace over the naval defense sea area. Only U.S. government ships and aircraft were permitted to enter the naval defense areas at Kingman Reef unless authorized by the Secretary of the Navy.
Kingman Reef supports a vast variety of marine life. Giant clams are abundant in the shallows, and there are approximately 38 genera and 130 species of stony corals present on the reef. This is more than three times the species diversity of corals found in the main Hawaiian Islands. The ecosystem of the reef and its subsequent food chain are known for the distinct quality of being primarily predator-based. Sharks comprised 74% of the top predator biomass (329 g·m−2) at Kingman Reef and 57% at Palmyra Atoll (97 g·m−2), and low shark numbers have been observed at Tabuaeran and Kiritimati.
The percentage of the total fish biomass on the reef is made up of 85% apex predators, creating a high level of competition for food and nutrients among local organisms – particularly sharks, jacks, and other carnivores. The threatened green sea turtles that frequent nearby Palmyra Atoll travel to Kingman Reef to forage and bask on the coral rubble spits at low tide.
However, above sea level, the reef is usually barren of macroorganisms. Mainly constructed of dead and dried coral skeletons, providing only calcite as a source of nutrients, the small and narrow strips of dry land are only habitable by a handful of species for short periods of time. Most flora which begin to grow above water – primarily coconut palms – die out quickly due to the fierce tides and lack of resources necessary to sustain plant life.
On September 1, 2000, the Navy relinquished its control over Kingman Reef to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On January 18, 2001 Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt created the Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge during his final days in office with Secretary's Order 3223. It is composed of the emergent coral rubble spits and all waters out to 12 nautical miles (22 km). While there are only 3 acres (0.012 km2) of land, 483,754 acres (1,957.68 km2) of water area is included in the Refuge. Along with six other islands, the reef was administered as part of the Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex. In January 2009, that entity was upgraded to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument by President George W. Bush.
Since the early 1940s, Kingman Reef has had very little human contact, though amateur radio operators from around the world have occasionally visited the reef to put it "on the air" in what is known as a DX-pedition. In 1974, a group of amateurs using the callsign KP6KR sailed to the reef and set up a temporary radio station and antenna. Other groups visited the island in subsequent years, including 1977, 1980, 1981, 1988 and 1993.
Most recently, a group of 15 amateur radio operators from the Palmyra DX Group visited the reef in October 2000. Using the FCC-issued special event callsign K5K, the group made more than 80,000 individual contacts with amateurs around the world over a period of 10 days.
Between November 15, 1945, and March 28, 2016, Kingman Reef was considered a discrete entity for the purpose of earning awards such as the DX Century Club. A video shot by amateur radio operators traveling to the K5P DX-pedition on Palmyra in January 2016 appears to show Kingman Reef mostly awash, raising questions as to whether a future activation of Kingman Reef would be possible.
On March 28, 2016, the ARRL DXCC desk deleted Kingman Reef from the list of collectable entitieseffective March 29, 2016, and deeming Kingman a part of the Palmyra and Jarvis entity due to proximity of the islands and common administration of the islands by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Baker Island is an uninhabited atoll located just north of the equator in the central Pacific Ocean about 3,090 km (1,920 mi) southwest of Honolulu. The island lies almost halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbor is Howland Island, 42 mi (68 km) to the north-northwest; both have been claimed as territories of the United States since 1857, though the United Kingdom considered them part of the British Empire between 1897 and 1936.
Howland Island is an uninhabited coral island located just north of the equator in the central Pacific Ocean, about 1,700 nautical miles (3,100 km) southwest of Honolulu. The island lies almost halfway between Hawaii and Australia and is an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the United States. Together with Baker Island it forms part of the Phoenix Islands. For statistical purposes, Howland is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The island has an elongated banana-shape on a north–south axis, 1.40 by 0.55 nautical miles, and covers 2.6 square kilometres.
Jarvis Island is an uninhabited 1 3⁄4-square-mile (4.5 km2) coral island located in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and the Cook Islands. It is an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the United States, administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior as part of the National Wildlife Refuge system. Unlike most coral atolls, the lagoon on Jarvis is wholly dry.
Johnston Atoll, also known as Kalama Atoll to Native Hawaiians, is an unincorporated territory of the United States currently administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Johnston Atoll is a National Wildlife Refuge and is closed to public entry. Limited access for management needs is only by Letter of Authorization from the U.S. Air Force and Special Use Permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Line Islands, Teraina Islands or Equatorial Islands, are a chain of atolls and coral islands. Kingman Reef is largely submerged and Filippo Reef is shown on some maps, although its existence is doubted. The islands were formed by volcanic activity and are located in the central Pacific Ocean, south of the Hawaiian Islands. The 11 islands stretch for 2,350 kilometres in a northwest–southeast direction, making it one of the longest island chains of the world. Eight of the islands form part of Kiribati, while the remaining three are United States territories grouped with the United States Minor Outlying Islands. Only Kiritimati and Tabuaeran atolls and Teraina Island have a permanent population.
Malden Island, sometimes called Independence Island in the nineteenth century, is a low, arid, uninhabited atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, about 39 km2 (15 sq mi) in area. It is one of the Line Islands belonging to the Republic of Kiribati. The lagoon is entirely enclosed by land, however it is connected to the sea by underground channels, and is quite salty.
Midway Atoll is a 2.4-square-mile (6.2 km2) atoll in the North Pacific Ocean at. Midway is roughly equidistant between North America and Asia. Midway Atoll is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States. Midway continues to be the only island in the Hawaiian archipelago that is not part of the state of Hawaii. Unlike the other Hawaiian islands, Midway observes Samoa Time, which is one hour behind the time in the state of Hawaii. For statistical purposes, Midway is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, encompassing 590,991.50 acres (239,165.77 ha) of land and water in the surrounding area, is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The refuge and most of its surrounding area are part of the larger Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Palmyra Atoll is one of the Northern Line Islands, located almost due south of the Hawaiian Islands, roughly one-third of the way between Hawaii and American Samoa. The nearest continent is almost 3,355 miles to the northeast. The atoll is 4.6 sq mi (12 km2), and it is located in the equatorial Northern Pacific Ocean. Its 9 mi (14 km) of coastline has one anchorage known as West Lagoon.
The United States Minor Outlying Islands are a statistical designation defined by the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 3166-1 code. The entry code is ISO 3166-2:UM. The minor outlying islands and groups of islands consist of eight United States insular areas in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Caribbean Sea.
Wake Island is a coral atoll in the western Pacific Ocean in the northeastern area of the Micronesia subregion, 1,501 miles east of Guam, 2,298 miles west of Honolulu, 1,991 miles southeast of Tokyo, and 898 miles north of Majuro. The island is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States that is also claimed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Wake Island is one of the most isolated islands in the world and the nearest inhabited island is Utirik Atoll in the Marshall Islands, 592 miles to the southeast.
Kure Atoll or Ocean Island is an atoll in the Pacific Ocean 48 nautical miles WNW of Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at State of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resource--Division of Forestry and Wildlife as one of the co-trustees of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument with support from Kure Atoll Conservancy.. The only land of significant size is called Green Island and is a habitat for hundreds of thousands of seabirds. A short, unused and unmaintained runway and a portion of one building, both from a former United States Coast Guard LORAN station, are located on the island. Politically, it is part of Hawaii, although separated from the rest of the state by Midway, which is a separate unorganized territory. Green Island, in addition to being the nesting grounds of tens of thousands of seabirds, has recorded several vagrant terrestrial birds including snow bunting, eyebrowed thrush, brambling, olive-backed pipit, black kite, Steller's sea eagle and Chinese sparrowhawk. It is currently managed as a Wildlife Bird Sanctuary by the
An insular area of the United States is a U.S. territory that is neither a part of one of the 50 states nor of a Federal district. Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution grants to United States Congress the responsibility of overseeing these territories, of which as of 2018 there are 14: three in the Caribbean Sea and 11 in the Pacific Ocean. These territories are classified by whether they are incorporated and whether they have an organized territorial government established by the U.S. Congress through an Organic Act. All territories but one are unincorporated, and all but four are considered to be unorganized. Five U.S. territories have a permanent, nonmilitary population. Each of them has a civilian government, a constitution, and enjoys some degree of local political autonomy.
The French Frigate Shoals is the largest atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Its name commemorates French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse, who nearly lost two frigates when attempting to navigate the shoals. It consists of a 20-mile (32 km) long crescent-shaped reef, twelve sandbars, and the 120-foot (37 m) high La Perouse Pinnacle, the only remnant of its volcanic origins. The total land area of the islets is 61.508 acres (24.891 ha). Total coral reef area of the shoals is over 232,000 acres (94,000 ha). Tern Island, with an area of 26.014 acres (10.527 ha), has a landing strip and permanent habitations for a small number of people. It is maintained as a field station in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The French Frigate Shoals are about 487 nautical miles northwest of Honolulu.
Edwin Charles Musick was Chief Pilot for Pan American World Airways and pioneered many of Pan Am's transoceanic routes including the famous route across the Pacific Ocean on the China Clipper.
Atafu, formerly known as the Duke of York Group, is a group of 52 coral islets within Tokelau in the south Pacific Ocean, 500 kilometres north of Samoa. Covering 2.5 square kilometres, it is the smallest of the three islands that constitute Tokelau, and is composed of an atoll surrounding a central lagoon, which itself covers some 15 km2 (5.8 sq mi). The atoll lies some 800 kilometres south of the equator at 8° 35' South, 172° 30' West.
Rose Atoll, sometimes called Rose Island or Motu O Manu by people of the nearby Manu'a Islands, is an oceanic atoll within the U.S. territory of American Samoa. An uninhabited wildlife refuge, it is the southernmost point belonging to the United States. The land area is 0.214 km2. The total area of the atoll, including lagoon and reef flat amounts to 5 km2. Just west of the northernmost point is a channel into the lagoon, about 40 m wide. There are two islets on the northeastern rim of the reef, larger Rose Island in the east and the non-vegetated Sand Island in the north.
Birnie Island is a small, uninhabited coral island, 20 hectares in area, part of the Phoenix Island group, that is part of the Republic of Kiribati. It is located about 100 km SE of Kanton Island and 90 km WNW of Rawaki Island, formerly known as Phoenix Island. It lies at. Birnie island measures only 1.2 km long and 0.5 km wide. There is no anchorage, but landing can be made on the lee beach.
Rose Atoll Marine National Monument is a United States National Monument in the South Pacific Ocean, covering 8,571,633 acres and encompassing the Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 1973 with 39,066 acres. The monument's marine areas are likely to also be incorporated in the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is a group of unorganized, mostly unincorporated United States Pacific Island territories managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States Department of Commerce. These remote refuges are "the most widespread collection of marine- and terrestrial-life protected areas on the planet under a single country's jurisdiction". They protect many endemic species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, water birds, land birds, insects, and vegetation not found elsewhere.
Howland and Baker islands are two uninhabited U.S. atolls in the Equatorial Pacific that are located close to one another. Both islands are wildlife refuges, the larger of which is Howland Island. The pair of islands may also be referred to as Baker and Howland Islands. They are both part of the larger political territory of the United States Minor Outlying Islands and they are also both part of the larger geographic grouping of the Phoenix Islands. Each is a National Wildlife Refuge managed by a division of Interior, the Fish and Wildlife Service. On January 6, 2009, President George Bush, in creating the monument, added both islands to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
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