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Wednesday, February 23, 2000

4 isle bases,
5 ships have roles
in epic film

The Department of Defense
has OK'd military assistance for
the 'Pearl Harbor' movie

By Gregg K. Kakesako


The Navy has agreed to allow producers of the $135 million World War II epic, "Pearl Harbor," to use four mothballed destroyer-type vessels to simulate battleships that were sunk during the Japanese attack 59 years ago.

In addition, filming at three other military bases will begin in April, as producers reenact the Dec. 7, 1941 attack.

The film will be financed by Touchstone Pictures/Buena Vista and is expected to be one of the most expensive movies ever made. It will be produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Michael Bay, whose credits include "Armageddon" and "The Rock."

It is based on the events leading up to the Japanese attack and involves two brothers, aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps and the British Royal Air Force.

It is expected to be released around Memorial Day 2001.

The Pentagon said the movie is one of the most complex the Department of Defense (DOD) has authorized in more than 20 years. The Navy, which will serve as the lead military service for the movie, views the film as an opportunity to pay tribute to the veterans of both Pearl Harbor and World War II.

The DOD approved military assistance to the movie on Feb 15, said Navy spokesman, Cmdr. Bruce Cole.

Four ships from the Naval Seas System Command's Inactive Fleet at Middle Loch, near the Pearl City peninsula, will be towed to Ford Island to be used as props simulating "battleship row" at the time of the bombing.

Special effects artists will convert them into the battleships that were targets of Japanese torpedoes and bombs. Using computer simulation and graphics, they also will recreate the Japanese battle fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor, Cole said.

"Controlled pyrotechnics and other special effects will be detonated, and barges with smoke pots will help simulate burning battleships," he said.

Filming, expected to be completed at Pearl Harbor by late May, also will feature scenes at Ford Island and Hospital Point, as well as aboard the USS Missouri, docked permanently at Ford Island.

The film's producers will use Ford Island as a production and storage area for World War II vintage aircraft they plan to bring in.

Cole said the Navy also has agreed to allow filming aboard one of the Navy's last remaining non-nuclear aircraft carrier, USS Constellation, in waters off San Diego, where the warship is homeported.

Aerials of the Navy's battle group in waters off Hawaii in May, during the bi-annual multinational RIMPAC exercise, also will be filmed, Cole said.

Capt. Rich Spiegel, 25th Division spokesman, said many of the old Army buildings on Oahu give off "a rich period feel" that helps in recreating scenes nearly 60 years ago.

At Fort Shafter, for example, the one-story wooden military police station will double as a hospital in the movie, while Palm Circle will be strafed, said Army spokesman John Fairbank.

Wheeler Army Air Field, which was an active World War II base that was bombed during the Japanese attack, will double as other Oahu military installations hit on that "Day of Infamy."

Mock-ups of World War II P-40 fighters will be blown up on the Wheeler flight line, Fairbank said.

"If you fly over Wheeler today," Spiegel said, "the hangars look like they did on Dec. 7. Although the insides have been renovated and modernized, the outside looks exactly how Japanese pilots would have seen them."

Two locations scouted at Hickam Air Force Base include Foster Point near Hickam harbor and Freedom Tower, which was standing on Dec. 7, near the headquarter's building.

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