Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It is about 15 miles long in an ENE-WSW direction and about 8 miles wide. The NW side of the atoll is low and the reef on that side is covered. The reef projects about 0.2 mile from the atoll on the E side and 0.1 mile on the W side. The inner channel, with a least depth of 10.2m and a width of 100m, leads into the lagoon. The fairway is marked by buoys and lighted beacons. Currents in the entrance channel are generally variable, but usually set along the channel axis at rates of less than 1 knot. Several channels lead to various berths throughout the atoll. A pier, with depths of 11m alongside, exists here, with a spur pier extending SE of it. This extension is about 150m in length, with alongside depths of 3 to 7m.
Large blockhouses stand on the atoll's N and SW points. Towers, with a height of 15 to 80m, moveable derricks, and other structures are visible at several points around the atoll. An airstrip lies on the NE portion of the group. A light, with a racon, is shown from the center of the lagoon
Pilotage is compulsory. Vessels should contact the local authorities to confirm their ETA via 2716 kHz when within 30 miles of the atoll. The pilot, who may be contacted on VHF channel 11, will board seaward of the entrance buoys. Vessels anchor in the E part of the lagoon, in varying depths from 20 to 30m, moderate holding ground. Winds from NW can raise a heavy sea.
The entrance to the lagoon is on NW side of the atoll. Ilot Giroflee lies on the S side of the entrance. The lagoon has an average depth of 37m; however, it is encumbered with dangerous coral patches. The lagoon is entered with a lighted beacon (21°49.6′ S 138°52.8′ W.) bearing 096.5°, situated at the center of the lagoon. It is reported that the pass of Moruroa, as well as the N and S approaches, are obstructed by a chain boom. This boom can be moved by agreement with the local military authority. Moruroa is classified as a National Defense Protected Zone . The zone includes the lagoon areas enclosed by the atoll and by baselines linking the closest points emerging from the reef on both sides of the channel. Entry is prohibited without authorization.
Moruroa, along with the neighbouring atoll of Fangataufa, was the site of approximately 200 atmospheric and underground nuclear tests conducted by the French Government between 1966 and 1996. It was the site of numerous protests by various vessels, including the Rainbow Warrior.
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