The Midway Islands are two atolls in the Pacific Ocean located at the tip of the Hawaiian archipelago, about 1,150 nautical miles northwest of Honolulu. They are small, comprising an area of fewer than six square kilometers. The uninhabited islands were discovered by Captain N.C. Brooks in 1859. They were called the Middlebrook Islands, and later, Brooks Islands. In 1869, Secretary of State William H. Seward orchestrated the nation's annexation of the islands. The following year, Congress appropriated $50,000 for the construction of a ship channel into a central lagoon area, which provided a safe harbor for vessels crossing the Pacific. Midway served as a refueling point for Pan-American flights in the 1930s and 1940s. During World War II, the Battle of Midway (June 1942) was a major turning point in the Pacific Theater.