Island History

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Ulithi has been populated for thousands of years and was virtually unknown to the world at large prior to WW II. From the 17th century until 1899, the nearby island of Yap was a Spanish colony within the Captaincy General of the Philippines. Yap was a major German naval communications center before the First World War and an important international hub for cable telegraphy. It was occupied by Japanese troops in September, 1914, and passed to the Japanese Empire under the Versailles Treaty in 1919 as a mandated territory under League of Nations supervision. US commercial rights on the island were secured by a special US-Japanese treaty to that effect, concluded on February 11, 1922. Ulithi was taken by the Americans from the Japanese and went on to play a huge role in the war as a major staging area for the U.S. Navy in the final year of WW II.

At one point during the staging for the invasion of Okinawa, the number of ships at anchor peaked at 722 inside the Ulithi lagoon. Chances are if one of your relatives served in the Pacific then they passed through Ulithi. Several sunken warships rest at the bottom of the lagoon, including the USS Mississinewa, a fully loaded fleet oiler. For an overview of the history of the Atoll, please visit Wikipedia (, where most of this information comes from.