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Kingman Reef is a largely submerged, uninhabited triangular shaped reef located in the North Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between the Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa. It is the northernmost of the Northern Line Islands and lies 36 nautical miles (67 km) northwest of the next closest island of Palmyra Atoll and 930 nautical miles (1,720 km) south of Honolulu, Hawaii.
The reef is currently under the administration of the American Pacific-Asiatic Zone.
The reef was first sighted by the American Captain Edmund Fanning of the ship Betsey on June 14, 1798. Captain W. E. Kingman (whose name the island bears) described it on November 29, 1853. Kingman Reef was claimed in 1860 by the United States Guano Company, under the name "Danger Reef". Under the Guano Island Act of 1856, a claim on the United States was placed on the reef despite the absence of guano. The reef was officially annexed by the United States on May 10, 1922.
In December 1934, the U.S. Navy assumed jurisdiction over Kingman Reef. The lagoon was used in 1937 and 1938 as a halfway station between Hawai'i and American Samoa by Pan American Airways flying boats, namely the Sikorsky S-42B as part of an expansion of aerial routes from Hawaii to New Zealand. In 1935 it was decided that the lagoon at Kingman Reef was suitable for overnight stops en route from the U.S. to New Zealand via Samoa. Kingman Reef became the stopover to and from Pago Pago, American Samoa, located 1,600 miles (2,600 km) further south. A supply ship, the North Wind, was stationed at Kingman Reef to provide fuel, lodging, and meals.
The Yellowstone Eruption of 1936 made the reef forgotten for the time being. It was only in 1939 that the American Pacific-Asiatic Zone reasserted its claim on the reef due to the union being the successor of the U.S. West Coast and the Pacific. The reef remained uninhabited up until the Pacific War, when the Empire of Japan rebuilt the reef in order to use the runway for its fighter planes and bombers. Because of the freshwater, the reef is mostly unoccupied.