Johnston is an unincorporated territory of the United States, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior as part of the United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges. For statistical purposes, Johnston Atoll is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands.
Its climate is tropical but generally dry. North-east trade winds are consistent and there is little seasonal temperature variation. With elevation ranging from sea level to 5 m at Summit Peak, the islands contain some low-growing vegetation on mostly flat terrain and no natural fresh water resources.
The central means of transport to the island was the airport which had a paved, military runway. The islands were wired with 13 outgoing and 10 incoming commercial telephone lines, a 60-channel submarine cable, 22 DSN circuits by satellite, an Autodin with standard remote terminal, a digital telephone switch, the Military Affiliated Radio System (MARS station), a UHF/VHF air-ground radio, and a link to the Pacific Consolidated Telecommunications Network (PCTN) satellite.
The atoll’s economic activity was limited to providing services to U.S. military personnel and contractors located on the island. All food and manufactured goods were imported. The base had six 2.5 MW generators supplied by the base’s support contractor, Holmes and Narver, using Enterprise Engine and Machinery Company (Oakland CA) DSR-36 diesel engines. The runway facility was also available to commercial airlines for emergency landings (a fairly common event). By the end of 2003 jurisdiction of the atoll was transferred from the military to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. All structures and facilities, including those used in JACADS, were removed and the runway was marked closed.