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38

Sector 2. The Line Islands, the Cook Islands, the Samoa Islands, and the Tonga Islands

The Line Islands

2.2 The Line Islands (1°52'N., 157°22'W.) consists of the

scattered islands and atolls lying near the Equator and the meridian of 160°00'W. Two members of the group, Jarvis Island and Palmyra Atoll, are private property; they are unin- corporated territory of the United States. The remainder belong to Kiribati.

2.2

This group should be considered dangerous to navigation as

the islands are low, flat, and surrounded by strong variable cur- rents. These currents are described below.

2.2

The N section of this group lies in or near the boundary of

the Equatorial Countercurrent. Correspondingly, Kingman Reef experiences an E set, while the sets around Palmyra Atoll are strong and variable. The rest of the group lies within the W setting South Equatorial Current.

When within 200 miles of Kiritimati, the current was re- ported to have rates of 2.5 to 3 knots.

2.2 2.2

In the vicinity of Malden Island and Starbuck Island, the

general set is W; however, E sets have also been experienced. Some of these E sets have exceeded rates of 1 knot.

2.3 Palmyra Atoll (Palmyra Island) (5°53'N., 162°05'W.)

is an atoll which consists of many small islets lying on a barrier reef which encloses three distinct lagoons. The reef surrounding Palmyra Atoll is 5 miles long E-W, and 2 miles at its widest part. Shoal water extends 1.8 miles E from the SE extremity of the reef and the same distance from the NW and SW extremities. The islets are low, about 1.8m high, and covered with coco-

2.3

nut and other trees reaching heights of 30m and visible 12 to 15 miles.

caused by the meeting of the Northeast Trades and the South- east Trades.

2.3

Northeast Trades prevail, with an average velocity of 10 to

12 knots. There are frequent squalls of short duration and occa- sional winds up to 22 knots, but typhoons are infrequent. Rainfall is heavy and humidity high, ranging from 2,540 to

2.3

4,572mm annually. Rain occurs almost daily; heavy squalls come up suddenly from the SW, but there are no severe storms. Tides—Currents.—The tidal rise at Palmyra Atoll is about 0.6m at MHHW and 0.0m at MLW.

2.3 2.3

Strong and variable currents may be expected in the vicinity

of the atoll. Caution is advised if approaching the atoll from the SW as dangerous tide rips have been reported to lie 5 miles SW from the atoll.

A current sets NW across the entrance channel and is partic- ularly strong SW of Sand Island.

2.3 2.3

Depths—Limitations.—A dredged channel, which leads

through the SW side of the island, is the only entrance. It was reported that the channel had a depth of 7.9m its entire length. The depths within the lagoon vary from 3 to 53m. A pier was reported in poor condition, with depths of 6.4 to 9.1m along- side, is situated in the W lagoon. The reefs and shoals within the lagoon are shown on the chart.

Aspect.—A group of four radio towers stands as a good landmark on the SW part of the atoll.

2.3 2.3

Regulations.—See U.S. Coast Pilot 7 for regulations per-

taining to navigation in U.S. waters. Palmyra Atoll was pur- chased by the Nature Conservancy in 2000.

2.3

Anchorage.—The island should be approached from the W

and anchor on the bank, in 22m, sand and coral, with the NW extremity of the island bearing 071°, 2.5 miles distant, or far- ther in, in 14.6m, sand and coral, with the point on the same bearing 2 miles distant. It is not advisable to attempt to anchor between sunset and sunrise. In 1988, a 2 knot current setting S was observed during a NW fresh at the anchorage.

2.3

Caution.—An explosive dumping area is situated with its

center about 15 miles WSW of Palmyra Atoll. 2.4 Kingman Reef (6°25'N., 162°26'W.) is located about

33 miles NNW of Palmyra Atoll. The reef, a U.S. possession, is a Defensive Sea Area and Airspace Reservation and is closed to the public. The airspace entry control has been suspended, but is subject to immediate reinstatement without notice. The reef is triangular in shape with its apex to the N. The

2.4

reef is about 9 miles long E-W and 5 miles N-S. A small islet, 0.9m high, lies on the E side of the reef. The reef dries on its NE, E, and SE edges; the remainder of the atoll is contained within a ridge with depths of 18.3m. However, there are breaks in the reef, one on the N side and one on the S side, with more water. Outside the ridge the bottom slopes steeply to over 183m.

Palmyra Atoll from ENE

2.3

Winds—Weather.—Palmyra Atoll has unfavorable weath-

er and is the only island in its latitude where fresh W winds occur. A tropical front hovers in the vicinity of the island and is

Pub. 126

The reef has been reported to be difficult to identify, both visually and by radar. The reef has been sighted at 7 miles. Kingman Reef is within the belt traversed by the Equatorial

2.4 2.4

Countercurrent, which in this vicinity sets E at a rate of 1.3 to 1.8knots.

Caution.—A shoal, the existence of which is doubtful, is charted in position 6°50'N, 169°36'W.

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