Clipperton Island

Relief map of Clipperton Island

Clipperton (109.217W 10.303N) is a small island in the eastern Pacific located about 700 miles (1130 km) off the coast of Mexico. The island is about 2 miles (3 km) across and has a large central lagoon with no outlet to the sea. The lagoon is salty at depth but the top layers are just potable due to the tendency of rainwater to float atop the denser salt water.

Clipperton was claimed at various times by the United States, France, and Mexico, but the French claims were recognized by Mexico by the time of the Pacific War. However, the island is uninhabited and undeveloped.

In January 1945 Roosevelt, who was antipathetic to the French due to his perception of widespread collaboration between France and Germany, incorrectly claimed that Clipperton Island was still disputed territory and ordered a small meteorological team guarded by American troops to the island in great secrecy. However, plans to establish an American base were dropped with Roosevelt's death and the station was quietly withdrawn.

The island might conceivably have been of value for guarding the sea lane from the Panama Canal to the West Coast from Japanese submarines, had the Japanese ever mounted a serious attack on this sea lane. It was otherwise of no military value.


Larrabee (1987)

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