Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, is investigating a bomb threat that prompted the base to lock down for hours on Tuesday, a base spokesman has confirmed.
The Navy and Air Force installation closed its gates around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday due to a “potential security incident,” according to official statements. It ordered employees and visitors to shelter in place north of South Avenue and west of North Road, near the center of the base.
Chuck Anthony, a spokesperson for the naval side of Pearl Harbor-Hickam, told Military Times Tuesday night that the base had received a bomb threat, but declined to say how it was brought to their attention or whether they believe an active threat still exists.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that two bomb threats were phoned in, claiming an explosive device was on the destroyer USS William P. Lawrence in the shipyard’s Dry Dock 4. Personnel at that dry dock evacuated to Dry Dock 1, though no bomb was found on base, the publication said.
No one was detained in the course of clearing the base to return to normal, Anthony said.
Gates reopened in both directions just before 1 p.m., according to David Hodge, another Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam spokesman. A portion of the base remained cordoned off and under investigation, said Hodge. He declined to provide further specifics.
The installation gave the all-clear on social media around 2:30 p.m. local time.
“No hazardous conditions exist,” the base posted. “Resume normal operations.”
Units from Honolulu Police Department and Federal Fire Department responded to assist in the investigation with JBPHH Security and other emergency personnel, according to a base press release.
“We are grateful to the first responders who helped us investigate and secure the potential incident,” said Col. Tammie Harris, deputy joint base commander, said in a statement. “I want to assure everyone that we will do everything possible to maintain the operational readiness of JBPHH while protecting the safety of our base employees, our service members and their families.”
Base officials had advised people on Facebook around 1 p.m. local time to stand clear of cordoned areas north of South Avenue and west of North Road. The base’s website also told employees and visitors to limit their driving on base roads and yield to emergency vehicles. Pearl Harbor-Hickam suspended tours at the USS Arizona Memorial, which commemorates Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the United States into World War II. Tours have since resumed.
An annual safety exercise scheduled to start Tuesday prompted confusion about whether the incident was real or a drill. The “Citadel Protect” drill trains sailors at Pearl Harbor-Hickam to respond to terrorist threats and other force protection scenarios.
“The training will involve the use of blank rounds fired from crew-served weapons such as M240s in the vicinity of the harbor,” the base said on Facebook. “Base personnel, residents and those who live near the installation should not be alarmed by the sounds of gunfire, other popping noises and activations of the base-wide Giant Voice System.”
Hodge said the scene there was not confusion over the exercise.
“It’s an actual situation,” Hodge said. “Not part of the exercise.”
Last year, security forces detained and later released three people at a Pearl Harbor-Hickam gate who were found with an inert mortar round in their car. A Naval Criminal Investigative Service spokesman said at the time that NCIS did not believe the trio posed a threat to the community.
That incident came shortly after an active-duty American sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor, a naval shipyard, opened fire on three civilian employees there in December 2019. Two of the civilians died, and the gunman killed himself.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.
Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at email@example.com.