Kwajalein Atoll

Overview

Introduction

Kwajalein is the world's biggest bull's eye. Unarmed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) streak in occasionally from California to plop into the center (one hopes) of the anchorage. Missile-defense systems, targeted against the ICBMs, have also been tested there. Nevertheless, Kwajalein Lagoon is a superb place to dive (unless you have to dodge a missile or two). The international airport is on Kwajalein Island, as is a U.S. military base. You cannot stay there unless you have been invited for business or by a resident.

The Marshallese workers on the base live on Ebeye, a small (78-acre/32-hectare) island about 3 mi/5 km away by ferry. Although there are several hotels there, it is one of the most crowded spots on Earth and not a pleasant place to visit.

Because of Kwajalein's position west of the international date line and its dubious honor as a missile-testing target, residents work Tuesday-Saturday. This allows them to keep the same schedule as their Monday-Friday counterparts (U.S. government technicians) who push the launch button in California.

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