Hawaii is synonymous with beaches, waves, beautiful scenery, and a vacation destination. But Hawaii’s islands are also home to numerous US military bases, serving a strategic role in protecting America.
The US military in Hawaii has a long history and has established numerous military installations. What are the military bases in Hawaii?
Read more to learn about every military base there.
Table of Contents
- List of Hawaii Military Bases
- Frequently Asked Questions
List of Hawaii Military Bases
Looking at the Hawaii map, you’ll realize that it is not only a vacation destination but also home to different branches of the United States Army Hawaii. The Navy, Marine, Army, Coast Guard, and Air Force all have bases scattered in the picturesque 8-island state.
1. Schofield Barracks
- Schofield Barracks is an Army station considered the biggest military installation in the Hawaii islands.
- The base is operated by the US Army. Since 1941, it has been the home of the “Tropic Lightning Forces” or the 25th Infantry Division.
- It is primarily a testing and defense facility against chemical or biological weapons.
- With a land mass of over 17,000 acres, it has over 20,000 service members, contractors, and their families calling the base home.
Schofield Barracks was named after US Army commanding general John M. Schofield, who realized the strategic geographic location of the base. When it was built in 1908, the barracks were initially established to serve as a defense for Oahu and Pearl Harbor.
The 25th Infantry Division used the barracks as a garrison during World War 2. While attacking Pearl Harbor, the Japanese also targeted Wheeler Army Airfield. The airfield wasn’t part of Schofield Barracks at the time.
2. Fort Shafter
- Fort Shafter holds the record for the oldest running base, not only in Hawaii but in the entire United States. It is also considered a National Historic Landmark.
- It is operated by the US Army.
- Today, Fort Shafter serves as the US Army Pacific’s headquarters.
- Currently, over 7500 active duty service members, along with their families are stationed in Fort Shafter.
Named after Major General William Rufus Shafter, famous for leading the Cuba expedition in 1898. The building started in 1905 and was completed in 1907. Built over Hawaiian crown lands and, after annexation, was turned over to the United States.
During World War 2 and the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Fort Shafter suffered few casualties compared to the Marines and the Navy. The fort mainly served as the Army command for the Asia-Pacific and an anti-aircraft artillery station during the war.
3. Pohakuloa Training Center
- Due to its location and lush natural resources, it is an ideal testing and training ground for service members honing their artillery fire, mortar, and sighting skills.
- The US Army and the USMC operate this installation.
- The Army and the Marines use it as a live-fire training facility. It is an ideal testing and training ground for service members honing their artillery fire, mortar, and sighting skills.
The 5th and 2nd Marine Divisions of the US Marine Corps artillery first used the training center in 1943. The military initially leased the 91-acre land (called the Waikoloa Maneuver Area) from a rancher named Richard Smart.
Structures constructed in 1955, including the small airfield Bradshaw Army Airfield in 1965, are still operational.
4. NS Pearl Harbor – Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickam
- NS Pearl Harbor, now Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickam, gained notoriety around the world among all US military bases because of the attack by the Japanese forces in World War 2, signaling America’s involvement in the world war.
- The US Navy and the US Air Force
- The base supports, maintains, and trains naval ships, submarines, and personnel. It provides communication, servicing, and maintenance of the Defense Message System for the Navy and all Pacific military activities.
- Pearl Harbor has 160 commands and houses more than a million servicemen, personnel, and families across the Navy bases and Air Force bases.
Rebuilt after the WW2 attacks, NS Pearl Harbor is functioning as a combined Naval and an Air Force bases. Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickam is also a famous tourist destination situated on the island of Oahu.
Established in 1908, Pearl Harbor remains an integral US Military base. It is cited as a historical site connected to America’s ascension as a global military might.
5. K-Bay/MCBH – Marine Corps Base Hawaii
- It is the biggest Marine Corps Base on the island of Oahu. Camp H.M. Smith is also located in the MCBH, which has a great view over Pearl Harbor.
- The US Navy and the USMC operate this base.
- It is the base of operations for the Marine Corps in Hawaii.
- Fun Fact: The base is a mile from President Obama’s Winter White House. He frequented the base compared to other Hawaiian military bases for different functions.
- About 9,300 active duty Navy and Marine Corps are currently stationed here.
The MCB Hawaii army base is situated in Kaneohe Bay, Mokapu Peninsula, Oahu, Honolulu.
In 1951, the Marine Corps took control of the base for flight training. It was later renamed MCB Hawaii or Marine Corps Base Hawaii in 1994.
6. Barking Sands Missile Range
- The testing facility is the largest mixed military installation anywhere in the world. Its isolated location makes it ideal as a test site for experimental missiles.
- It is operated by the US Navy
- Aside from weapons testing, its large landmass and geological characteristics also make it perfect for housing numerous military vehicles. It is the only base in the military that can hold planes, ships, submarines, different types of vehicles, and even spaceships.
- Notable accomplishment: The Aegis Defense System is the most notable development from Barking Sands Missile Range. Considered the most effective system developed yet, it can hit multiple targets at once. To this day, tests are still conducted on the base.
Barking Sands Missile Range or “Pacific Missile Range Facility” in Kekaha, is the name of the army base in Hawaii.
The land where Barking Sands Missile Range sits today was previously company owned.
In 1940, the US Army took command of the land and established a military and civilian airport, the Mana Airport.
In 1964, the base was renamed Barking Sands Missile Range along with its command transition from the US Army to the US Navy.
- Its main function and specialty are in cryptology, decoding, intelligence gathering, and intercepting or delivering communications.
- It is operated by both the US Army and the US Navy. Specifically, the US Army Military Intelligence Corps 500th Military Intelligence Brigade and the US Naval Security Group Activity Hawaii.
- KR-SOCK is a US military location that provides the Army and Navy intel.
- Fun Fact: KR-SOCK is where Edward Snowden was employed and later leaked, undisclosed information about the US surveillance program.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the base was immediately established to better prepare for future attacks. It has served in World War 2, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and during the cold war against the Soviets as well.
8. Tripler Medical Center
- Triple Medical Center is considered an important medical facility in the Pacific
- Tripler Medical Center is operated by the US Army base.
- Personnel from the center are often the first deployed when disaster strikes. They are also often involved in humanitarian efforts led by the UN and they also offer training for different US military branches and troops from allied countries.
- Fun fact: Due to its striking pinkish color, locals call Tripler Medical Center “the big pink building.”
Initially part of the Fort Shafter Flats, the center was established in 1907 as just several wooden installations. It was later renamed after the iconic American Civil War medic, Brig. Gen. Charles Stuart Tripler.
When the building was constructed completely in 1948, it was the tallest structure in the Pacific and also the most advanced hospital of its kind at the time.
An additional 433,000 sq. ft. were added in 1985 to expand the facility.
9. USCG Base Honolulu
- The USCG Base began its life as a lighthouse, became a military base In 1939, and has expanded beyond military duties.
- The US Coast Guard runs this base.
- The United States Coast Guard Base or USCG in Honolulu provides service to all military branches whenever needed or called upon. Among the other duties of the Honolulu military base is providing healthcare and support to nearby civilians and service members.
In the early years, the Coast Guard’s mandate was to be responsible for maintaining and repairing lighthouses in the surrounding area. But by 1945, as they started expanding the base and their jurisdiction, they were also providing support for different branches of the military.
By 1988 the USCG was given more responsibilities like law enforcement and Search and Rescue or SAR operations in the area.
10. Station Maui
- It is the lone military installation in Maui.
- The station is operated by the USCG and has jurisdiction over the whole of Hawaii and nearby islands.
- Similar to USCG Base Honolulu, Station Maui is responsible for local law enforcement, environmental concerns, and search and rescue missions. They often coordinate with other agencies and military branches to assist whenever needed.
The 95th Coast Guard cutter CAPE ROSIER was assigned by the USCG in 1965 to patrol Maui County’s waters, but was later replaced by the cutter CAPE NEWAGEN in 1969.
CAPE CORWIN was activated in 1983 in Maui but was later decommissioned in 1990 and was subsequently replaced by the establishment of Coast Guard Station Maui.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can civilians visit military bases in Hawaii?
Yes and No, it depends on the installation, base, or branch of the military. Most military bases allow visitors and even encourage tours. But some installations or areas in a specific base can’t allow or might restrict visitors for security reasons.
What is the largest military base in Hawaii?
Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks are the largest military bases on Hawaii. It houses the 25th Infantry Division, best known to have defended Pearl Harbor during the attack by the Japanese forces in World War 2.
How Many Military Bases Are in Hawaii?
This depends on who and when you ask, but overall, there are 11 bases, at the very least, at any given time. Due to changes in the structure and land ownership or stewardship, bases could be merged.
For example, Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickam used to be two bases: a Naval base, Pearl Harbor, and an Air Force base, Hickam Air Field. Depending on who you ask, this could be two separate bases, or just one.
Is Pearl Harbor still an active base?
Yes. It is both an active base and a tourist destination due to its historical significance during World War 2.
Hawaii and its outer islands are not only beautiful. Still, they are also a strategic geographic location to gain a foothold on the Pacific to protect America. The US military has built a home and fortifications here, rich in culture and history.
So if you are planning to visit the islands of Hawaii specifically to tour US military installations or visit historical landmarks? Knowing what are the military bases in Hawaii could help guide your trip.
John Cotton is Safecallnow’s copywriter. He is an authority on research and reviews. He is responsible for locating information and guidance on riot and disturbance control equipment, training equipment, correctional products, watch house products, tactical equipment, government regulation information, and more. His work guarantees a high level of proficiency and authority.