Ōminato Guard District

Ōminato Air Field
Airport type Military
Operator Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Location Mutsu, Japan
Elevation AMSL 24 ft / 7 m
Coordinates 41°13′58″N 141°07′56″E / 41.23278°N 141.13222°E / 41.23278; 141.13222Coordinates: 41°13′58″N 141°07′56″E / 41.23278°N 141.13222°E / 41.23278; 141.13222

Location in Japan

Direction Length Surface
m ft
04/22 600 1,969 Concrete
Source: Japanese AIP at AIS Japan[1]
Surviving pre-war building of the former Ōminato Guard District

The Ōminato Guard District (大湊警備府 Ōminato Keibifu) was the major navy base for the Imperial Japanese Navy in northern Honshu before and during World War II. Located in Mutsu Bay, (at the present-day city of Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture, the Ōminato Guard District was responsible for control of the strategic Tsugaru Strait between Honshu and Hokkaidō and for patrols along the Hokkaidō, Karafuto and Kurile Islands coastlines.


In the organizational structure of the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1886, the Japanese Empire was divided into five operational districts, with the Hokkaidō-Ōshu area forming Naval District 5, with its nominal headquarters in Muroran, Hokkaidō. However, the area was given a low priority in funding, and remained largely a paper organization under overall command of the Yokosuka Naval District.

On 12 June 1895, the nominal headquarters of Naval District 5 was transferred from Muroran to the more sheltered port of Ōminato, although facilities and infrastructure were minimal.

After the Russo-Japanese War, when the strategic importance of control of the Tsugaru Straits came into focus, and with Japan's acquisition of Karafuto Prefecture, more investment was made in securing Japan's northern frontiers. Ōminato was one of eleven designated third echelon naval ports, or yokobu (要港部) located around Japan. In December 1905 it was made independent of Yokosuka. Although Muroran, Asahikawa and Wakkanai bases reported to Ōminato, it was not raised to full Naval Districts (鎮守府) headquarters status, but continued as Ōminato yokobu. A wireless station was completed in 1913.

On 9 October 1913, the Inazuma-class destroyer Inazuma suffered from an explosion of her No. 3 boiler while at Ōminato. The incident highlighted the need for better facilities at Ōminato, and a ship repair facility and naval hospital were completed by 1923.

On 19 July 1931, the ship repair facilities at Ōminato caught fire and were largely destroyed, and had to be rebuilt a year later. The Ōminato Naval Air Station was opened in November 1933. In September 1936, after the IJN 4th Fleet Incident (in which the fleet was caught in a typhoon, with loss of several ships and damage to many more), Ōminato received the destroyers Hatsuyuki and Yugiri for emergency repairs.

On 20 November 1941, Ōminato was finally raised to the status of a Guard District. The Guard Districts (警備府 Keibifu)[2] In concept, the Guard District was similar to the United States Navy Sea Frontiers concept. the Guard District maintained a small garrison force of ships and Naval Land Forces which reported directly to the Guard District commander, and hosted detachments of the numbered fleets on a temporary assignment basis.

After the start of the Pacific War, Ōminato became the home port of the IJN 5th Fleet. The attack on Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands during the Battle of Midway was launched from Ōminato.

Ōminato was bombed several times in the closing days of the war: 14 July, 15 and 28 July, followed by a large attack from August 8–10, 1945, which destroyed several ships. American forces landed from the USS Panamint (AGC-13) to accept the surrender of the base from the Imperial Japanese Navy on 9 September 1945.

The base facilities were used by the United States Navy during the occupation of Japan, and are currently in use by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

Order of Battle at time of the attack on Pearl Harbor

List of commanders

Commanding Officer

Chief of Staff


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