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.
Dutch Harbor is now the home of an important fishing industry.
Druzhinin, the commander of the Russian ship Zakharii I Elisaveta is credited
for discovering the deep-water harbor now known 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
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
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
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.
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
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.[citation
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 the old World War II barracks
on Amaknak Island. The U.S. Navy scraped an air base on the rock.
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 Playboy magazine as the
"roughest bar in the U.S."
Kloosterboer’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. It is the harbor featured in the Discovery Channel
reality television series Deadliest Catch.