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The Nō Ka ‘Oi Legacy of Midway

By CAPT Greg Burton, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & IMF Commander | June 4, 2020

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – Seventy-eight years ago this week, Sailors and civilians turned the tide of the War in the Pacific. The shipyard each of us call home today played a pivotal role ensuring our Pacific Fleet was ready to surprise the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) at the Battle of Midway. A couple weeks before the carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5) would arrive at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Navy cryptologists, linguists, and intelligence personnel broke IJN’s code in the basement of our historic Building 1 at what was then called Station HYPO. The Nō Ka ‘Oi work of this team who were forerunners of modern information warriors gave the Navy critical intelligence to secure its first major naval victory against Japan at the Battle of Midway in World War II.

On May 28, 1942, a war torn and battle damaged Yorktown floated into the very same Dry Dock #1 where USS Mississippi (SSN 782) now sits. A three month repair estimate from the shipyard was announced. However, intelligence analysts from Station HYPO had convinced Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz that the IJN would strike Midway Island Jun 4, 1942, resulting in a near impossible repair timeline to return Yorktown to the Fleet – three days! This is when our Nō Ka ‘Oi legacy was created.

With water still draining from the dry dock, our civilian workforce wasted no time getting the ship back into fighting shape. More than 1,400 tradesmen would work around the clock for 72 hours to get the job done. Even our island community contributed with a series of rolling blackouts throughout O’ahu to support the vast electricity needed for the enormous welding effort. Then on the morning of May 30, with shipyard workers still on board finalizing repairs, Yorktown steamed out of the Pearl Harbor channel on a course straight to the battleground of one of the most decisive victories in history.

In 1942 ahead of the Battle of Midway, our workforce saw the unprecedented challenge of Yorktown and met it with Nō Ka ‘Oi work and effort despite barriers never before overcome. Seventy-eight years later, we are living through the unprecedented challenge of meeting the Fleet’s critical need for shipyard maintenance during a pandemic that requires Nō Ka ‘Oi effort and action to protect our people while executing that mission. Though we are not in the midst of a world war against seen enemies, we are in a war against an unseen enemy in a world where our Navy is still required to keep our adversaries in check to ensure they do not encroach on our freedom.

In 2020 despite a worldwide pandemic, we have shown our Nō Ka ‘Oi effort not only to each other, but to the highest levels of Navy leadership. Repaired in the very same dry dock as Yorktown, USS Missouri was returned to the Fleet FIVE days early because of the teamwork of the Missouri Project team, the ship’s crew and our collective effort as a shipyard. We are meeting and exceeding the Fleet’s expectation at a time when it is vitally needed similar to those more than 1,400 civilians who would meet ADM Nimitz’s need for the Battle of Midway.

Each day we come to work at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard & IMF, we have the opportunity to contribute to the Nō Ka ‘Oi legacy first established by those who have gone before us – those who did not back down, did not give up, and gave their best. Our challenges may be different, but our attitude and spirit remains the same. They were Nō Ka ‘Oi. We remain Nō Ka ‘Oi.

 

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