Even with decades having passed since the attack on Pearl Harbor of Dec. 7, 1941, the Hawaiian lagoon remains synonymous with destruction. But, in the weeks and months before the surprise assault, even as war raged around the world, Pearl Harbor represented pretty much the opposite. The soldiers and sailors stationed in Hawaii had a plum assignment, and the nation saw the harbor as proof of American naval power.

When LIFE Magazine profiled the Navy in October of 1940, a year before the attack, that celebratory tone was evident throughout. And, at the center of that celebration was Pearl Harbor, as a LIFE crew was allowed to sail along on maneuvers off of that base.

“The U.S. Navy is good,” the magazine proclaimed. “It is the great fighting creation of a people whose genius is not warlike but mechanical.”

Though the reporters admitted that the fleet was not yet entirely ready for war, it was already a great collection “of mechanical marvels and human skills.” Pearl Harbor was being transformed into “a first-class base like Britain’s Singapore or Malta” and each battleship was “a city of 1,200 sailors,” who lived their lives at the pace of the bugle, whether performing practice exercises (like the first-aid drill seen in the second image above) or making good use of their leisure time.

Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, TIME commissioned freelance photo editor Sanna Dullaway—who had previously worked with photos of Indy 500 racing, Queen Elizabeth II and much more—to colorize several of the images from that story, presenting a new and unique look at that suspended moment before war began.

Sanna Dullaway is a photo editor based in Sweden. See more of her work here.

U.S. Nav y in Hawaii 1940.

Original caption: “Anti-aircraft gunner aims machine gun.”

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Caption from LIFE. Anti-aircraft gunner aims machine gun.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / original image: Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

U.S. Navy in Hawaii, 1940.

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / original image: Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

U.S. Navy in Hawaii, 1940.

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / original image: Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Original caption: “In officers’ wardroom dominoes, bridge, acey deucy are most popular. This is aboard the Indianapolis.”

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / original image: Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

U.S. Navy in Hawaii, 1940.

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Original caption: “Nurses’ sun deck where they may relax and play in sports clothes is segregated from the res of the ship. They are favorite tennis companions of junior officers who radio ship for dates.”

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / original image: Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

U.S. Navy in Hawaii, 1940.

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / original image: Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Original caption: “On liberty at Waikiki beach, four sailors snap pictures of a Hawaiian girl.”

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / original image: Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

U.S. Navy in Hawaii, 1940.

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / original image: Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Original caption: ” Lonesome sailor on coral beach of Hawaiians’ Maui Island looks at line of light cruisers and destroyers in Lahaina Roads fleet anchorage.”

Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

U.S. Navy in Hawaii 1940.

Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway for TIME / original image: Carl Mydans The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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