Day 24 & 25 – February 7 & 8, 2017
After another four days at sea, we finally reached our second port, Guam. Our start wasn’t exactly smooth. Guam, officially being a part of the U.S., requires a full customs and immigration procedure. We were scheduled to be portside at 8:00 AM, which we were. Immigration clearance was supposed to begin at 7:45. The custom officials were here but It was after 9:00 AM before the immigration officials arrived. This resulted in over an hour of cooling our heels. I don’t mind the face to face immigration procedure, if fact I welcome it although it sometimes is a pain. The captain announced that due to the immigration processing delay, we would delay our sailing from Guam by two hours. This means a 7:00 PM departure.
Guam is an island in the western North Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines. (Geographic coordinates: 13 28 N, 144 47 E)
It is the largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago. It lies about 5,800 miles (9,300 km) west of San Francisco and 1,600 miles (2,600 km) east of Manila.
Guam is a territory of the United States of America. It is considered to occupy a militarily strategic location, south of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Guam is one of many islands that make up Micronesia, which politically consists of Belau (Palau), the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati), the Marshall Islands, and several remote islands designated as the US-administered islands of the Central Pacific. All of Micronesia has close political ties to the US.
I have included additional information about Guam which I extracted from several sources. I realize most of my readers might not be interested in this “background” information so feel free to skip to the photos!
Inhabited for thousands of years archaeological evidence indicates that the Marianas Islands were one of the first places to be settled by seafaring peoples, possibly from Island Southeast Asia, over 4000 years ago. The Mariana Islands appear to have been continuously occupied by people who shared the same culture and language that eventually became known as Chamorro.
Guam’s history is also one of multi-colonialism, with the last 400 years of Guam’s history marked by administrations of three different colonial powers: Spain, the United States and Japan.
The ceding of Guam to the United States as an unincorporated territory after the Spanish-American War in 1898 introduced Chamorros to democratic principles of government and the modern American lifestyle.
Guam also had a unique position in World War II, when Japan invaded the island shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. For the next three years, Guam was the only US territory occupied by Japanese forces until the Americans returned in 1944 to reclaim the island.
The political maneuverings after World War II and the post war buildup led to even more expansion of US military interests in Guam and the rest of Micronesia, with Guam becoming a hub for economic and commercial development. The easing of military restrictions for entering Guam and the establishment of a local, civilian government, have made the island an ideal place for people from all over the world to visit, go to school, find jobs or pursue a variety of economic interests. Today, Guam has a diverse population that enjoys a rich, multicultural, modern and urban lifestyle, yet continues to carry the indigenous spirit, language and culture of its people.
Native Guamanians, ethnically called Chamorros, are of basically Malayo-Indonesian descent with a considerable admixture of Spanish, Filipino, Mexican, and other European and Asian ancestries. Chamorros and other Micronesians constitute about half the population. Nearly one-third of the people are Asians, notably Filipinos and Koreans, and there is a small minority of people of European ancestry. About three-fourths of the people are Roman Catholic, and one-eighth are Protestant.
The Chamorro language is an Austronesian language that has, over time, come to incorporate many Spanish words. The word Chamorro is derived from Chamorri, or Chamoli, meaning “noble.” English and Chamorro are the official languages; although Chamorro is still used in many homes, English is the language of education and commerce. Because of the number of tourists and investors from Japan, Japanese is increasingly also used.
The island’s rate of natural increase, although about average for the region, is high compared with that of the United States, partly because of a low death rate. There are large numbers of migrants from the Philippines and South Korea, as well as from neighboring states such as the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
The development of Guam into an important U.S. military base brought about profound changes in the island’s agricultural patterns after World War II. Foodstuffs were imported in increasing amounts at the expense of local cultivation, and Guam now imports most of its food. The U.S. armed forces are represented at multiple military facilities on Guam. Andersen Air Force Base and its annexes are concentrated at the northern end of the island. U.S. Navy facilities, located around the island, include a naval air station, a naval base with a ship repair yard, communications centers, and a hospital. Work at the military facilities has drawn many islanders away from their former lives of subsistence agriculture and fishing. Tourism is the most prominent component of the economy, with more than a million visitors arriving per year. There are several luxury hotels along Tumon Bay, which has been highly developed as a tourist area. An international airport links Guam with other Pacific islands, Asia, and Hawaii and the continental United States. Poultry farming, garment-finishing plants, and oil refining are important earners. Guam is a duty-free port, and this status has attracted several small manufacturing companies from countries in Asia and has also prompted some immigration. Major imports—mostly from the United States and Japan—include food products, motor vehicles and parts, and shoes and other leather products. The leading exports are motor vehicles and parts, fish and other food products, scrap metal, and tobacco products. Finland, Japan, and the Federated States of Micronesia are the main export destinations.
Guam is culturally diverse, with Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and other Asian communities of significant size in addition to its indigenous population and people from the mainland United States. As a center of transportation and communication for the region, it also attracts many islanders from various parts of Micronesia. A large American-style shopping mall in Dededo, the Micronesia Mall, is the largest shopping center on the island and also serves as a cultural and recreational venue, with movie theatres and an indoor amusement park.
Before World War II the villages were the main social and economic units, preserving customs and traditions similar to those of 19th-century Spain. Fiestas held in commemoration of patron saints were great social and religious events of the year for each village and brought together people from many parts of the island. Fiesta customs are still observed in Guam. However, changes in the social life and institutions of Guamanians have come about with economic development and increasing international contacts. The extended family is the main social unit for most groups on Guam, although many of the younger members travel and live in the United States.
The folk arts and handicrafts of Guam have enjoyed a revival since the late 20th century. Various public and private groups have been created to promote music, dance, and other traditional cultural arts for the benefit of both the local community and tourists. The Guam Museum, in Hagåtña, features works by visual artists from around the Pacific Islands. The University of Guam also promotes regional arts and culture.
U.S. national holidays are celebrated on the island, as are several significant local dates such as Discovery Day, March 6, which commemorates the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521.
There are daily and semiweekly newspapers and quarterly and monthly magazines published on Guam, and several radio and television stations broadcast local and international news and features daily.
Guam, like the other Mariana Islands, was settled by the second quarter of the 2nd millennium BCE by an Indonesian-Filipino people. Archaeological research shows that by 800 CE they had developed a complex society that erected elaborate stone pillars (halege), which served as supports for communal houses (latte).
Ferdinand Magellan probably landed on Guam in 1521. Spain officially claimed the island in 1565 but did not attempt to conquer it until the latter part of the 17th century. After an uprising in 1670 and 25 years of intermittent warfare, the Spanish subdued the population with considerable bloodshed. Diseases introduced by the Europeans, particularly smallpox and influenza, also played an important role in the decimation of the population. Typhoons in 1671 and 1693 caused further destruction and loss of life. Guam remained a Spanish possession until 1898, when, in the course of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. warship Charleston steamed into Apra Harbor and bombarded the old fort. Guam was ceded to the United States, and Spain sold the other islands of the Marianas to Germany in 1899. From that time until 1950 (except for the period of its occupation by the Japanese during World War II) the governor of the island was a naval officer appointed by the president of the United States.
During World War II the Japanese landed on Guam just after the Pearl Harbor attack and occupied the island by Dec. 12, 1941. Allied forces retook Guam by Aug. 10, 1944. It was a major air and naval base for the squadrons of bombers that attacked Japan near the end of the war. Under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy, it was made a territory (1950) that was administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Various offices within that department have administered Guam; the Office of Insular Affairs has had responsibility since 1995. Guam remains the site of major U.S. naval and air bases; about one-third of the land in Guam is owned by the U.S. armed forces.
In the 1970s Guam gradually began to move toward representative self-government. The first popularly elected governor ran for office in 1970, and in 1972 Guam was given the right to send one nonvoting delegate (entitled to vote in committees, however) to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1978 the U.S. Senate accorded Guam the right to adopt a territorial constitution. In 1982, in a referendum offering six options, the option of commonwealth status won a plurality of votes. A draft Commonwealth Act was approved in 1987, and continuing negotiations with the United States took place through the late 20th century. Anderson Air Force Base was expanded in the 1990s, and in 2000 it became the first U.S. Air Force installation outside the continental United States to store conventional air-launched cruise missiles. In 2002 another typhoon struck Guam; it caused devastation across the island and left thousands homeless.
The War in the Pacific National Historical Park visitor’s center. The visitors center had several excellent exhibits and a book store, but the highlight was a film “The Battle for Gaum” which had been edited to 10 minutes from its full 30 minutes. I plan to locate the film when I return home to watch it in its entirety.
A Japanese two-man submarine. Although Japan produced over 2000 of these subs, they are credited with only sinking a single ship. The submarine is over 80 feet in length, but the crew quarters were quite limited.
A view of the commercial port where the Amsterdam is docked (she is on the left next to the crane).
A panoramic view.
Asan Bay overlook.
If you have followed my blogs in the past, you might have noticed that I like to photograph the local vehicle tags. They often say a lot about the country.
Latte stones. These stones were the foundation pillows of buildings. These date to approximately 600 years ago.
A sign at an eatery in the Chamorro market.
Monument at the Asan Beach Park.
Asan Beach. The below description came directly from an information plaque.
“Mortar shells geysered the water as thousands of U.S. Marines rode amphtraks and wade ashore here on July 21, 1944. Japanese guns swept the beach from camouflaged pillboxes at Asan Point. Landing craft continually shuttled the dead and wounded back to the ships.
Though hard-won, the beachhead was not a final objective. As heavy fire continued to rain down from surrounding ridges, the Americans used Asan as a staging area for assaults on Japanese strongholds at Adelup Point, Chorito Cliff, Bundschu Ridge and Fonte Plateau.”
Sea containers were used to cordon off our area from the general port operations.
Our delayed departure did allow for a beautiful sunset photograph as we literally sailed into the sunset.
As I am getting ready to post this blog entry it is early Wednesday morning, February 8. The captain has just announced that we will not be able to dock at Saipan. We have been outside the channel for the past 2 hours and the wind and surf has only increased. The port master reported that the waves on the pier are 11 feet. So… we are sailing on toward Japan. I do hate that we missed Saipan because I understand it is a beautiful port. On the otherhand, the weather is truly miserable with rain and 35-40 mph winds. I am not sure that we could have enjoyed our day in Saipan. Captain Mercer also warned us to be careful onboard, he expects the seas to continue to be rough for the remainder of the day at least.
Until next time, probably in Osaka.