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Ulithi is an atoll in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean, about 100 km (62 mi) east of Yap. It consists of 40 islets totalling 4.5 sq km (1.75 sq mi), surrounding a lagoon about 30 km (18 mi) long and 15 km (9 mi) wide -- at 548 sq km (209 sq mi) the 4th largest in the world. It is administered by the state of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia. Population was 710 in 1980.

Ulithi was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Diego da Rocha in 1526.

Ulithi was a major base for the United States Navy in World War II. The Japanese had established a radio and weather station early in the war, and had used the lagoon as an anchorage occasionally, which resulted in strikes from US aircraft carriers early in 1944. However, Ulithi was perfectly positioned to act as a staging area, being nearly equidistant from the Philippines, Formosa, and Okinawa.

On September 23, 1944, a Marine regiment landed unopposed (the Japanese having evacuated the atoll some months earlier), followed a few days later by a battalion of Seabees. The survey ship USS Sumner (AGS-5) surveyed the lagoon and reported it capable of holding 700 vessels, and indeed just a few months later, 617 ships had gathered there for the Okinawa operation.

The Japanese still held Yap, and there were occasional attacks, but in general Ulithi proved to be an excellent base. Many sailors had fond memories of Mogmog Island, little more than a patch of sand, but they got two warm beers each and a few hours of sitting on the sand as respite from months at sea.


Samuel Eliot Morison, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II: Leyte (Little, Brown, 1958), pp. 47-50.

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