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Dutch Harbor, Alaska


Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Dutch Harbor

Natural-colour image of Dutch Harbor
Dutch Harbor
Dutch Harbor
Dutch Harbor
Dutch Harbor

Coordinates: 53°53′20″N 166°31′38″W / 53.88889°N 166.52722°W / 53.88889; -166.52722

Country United States
Township Unalaska, Alaska
Time zone Alaska (AKST) (UTC-9)
 • Summer (DST) AKDT (UTC-8)

Dutch Harbor is a harbor located off of Amaknak Island in Unalaska, Alaska. It was the location of the Battle of Dutch Harbor in June 1942, and it was one of the few locations in American territory to be bombed by the Japanese during World War II.[1]

Dutch Harbor is now the home of an important fishing industry.[2]

Russian to American

Druzhinin, the commander of the Russian ship Zakharii I Elisaveta is credited for discovering the deep-water harbor now know as Dutch Harbor.

Dutch Harbor is located within the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, more precisely on Amaknak Island in the Fox Islands. A mile long spit extending from the south west of Amaknak Island makes Dutch Harbor a natural port, protecting ships from the waves and currents of the Bering Sea, although winds off the Bering Sea have tossed shipments from decks of ships ("stockpiles of lumber were tossed like toothpicks about Dutch Harbor.") Dutch Harbor is in a great location allowing ease of accesses to some of the richest fishing in the world and it is ice free.

The native people are known as the Aleut. The families or tribes would war with each other. When the Russians arrived they exploited the Aleut by taxing them in fur pelts.

The Aleut accepted the Russian Orthodox Church because it offered them support and educated their children.

The Russian-American Company operated 1799 through mid-1800 they would use Dutch Harbor to transport goods, mainly seal and sea otter fur.

In 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the United States. Russia was exhausted by the Crimean War, and they were having a tough time managing the extensive land of Alaska.

Fur was the main export in Alaska after the United States took control. Hutchinson, Kohl, & Company of San Francisco took over the assets on the Russian America Company in 1867, but it sold out in 1868 to the Alaska Commercial Company.

A decline in the sea otter population slowed trade in 1895.

The year 1897, brought a crowd of potential prospectors looking to get rich from the Alaska gold rush.[3]

World War II

World War II brought an entire army and supplies to Dutch Harbor. In June 1942, the Imperial Japanese navy bombed Dutch Harbor from two aircraft carriers.

During the war, Dutch Harbor was used as a home for refugees evacuated from the Aleutian Islands. U.S. Army troops and civilian workers alike spent time at "Blackies", the only bar in the area. This establishment had cheap beer and 50-cent shots of whiskey, but no stools or chairs as they "splintered too easily in event of a fight". Other entertainment was a brothel named "Pleasure Island", but this was closed in 1941 and replaced by part of the submarine base. The 500-man mess hall doubled as a theater. The tickets for military were 15 cents and 35 cents for civilian workers.[3]

By mid-1942, a small submarine base was in place, with a squadron of old U. S. Navy S-class submarines.

In early 1942, intelligence officers of the U.S. Navy predicted that there would be a Japanese attack in the North Pacific area, and naval codebreakers warned Dutch Harbor of the impending attack. On June 3, 1942, at 5:45 a.m., 20 Japanese planes bombed the radio station and the petroleum storage tanks. In May 1943, a peak of 10,151 sailors and 9,976 soldiers were stationed at the base.

In 1947, the last units of the U.S. Navy left Dutch Harbor and the base was decommissioned. In 1952 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stored 232 surplus buildings on 448 acres of land of the Fort Mears Military Reservation. During the mid-1980s, the U.S. Army bulldozed and burned old the World War II barracks on Amaknak Island. The U.S. Navy scraped an air base on the rock.

Current events

As the economy and population grow, the town of Unalaska can have trouble meeting the needs of citizens and travelers. Infrastructure such as water plant treatment, landfills, doctors, and police are pushed to the limit. Unalaska is expanding to meet the need of its citizens, employees and travelers. The area expects more eco-tourism. The Elbow Room is ranked by Playboymagazine as the "roughest bar in the U.S."

Koosterboer’s facility is new for 2010 and provides processing, storage and logistics to the fishing industry.

In recent years, Dutch Harbor has become a full service port providing all the fishing industry needs.[4] It is the harbor featured in the Discovery Channel reality television series Deadliest Catch.


Dutch Harbor is ranked to be a top fishing port with more than a billion pounds are transferred each year. Huge harvests of pollock and cod in the Bering Sea are cause for these numbers. The Bering Sea has a continental shelf which is one of the world’s largest, and supports a rich ecosystem.[5]


External links

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