Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 December 1941
Raid Aftermath



No sooner had the raid ended than U.S. forces attempted to locate the Japanese carrier fleet, with a view to delivering some kind of counter-blow. Many cruisers and destroyers left Pearl Harbor, joining the aircraft carrier Enterprise and other surface ships that were already at sea. The few surviving flight-worthy aircraft were also sent out. Much of the search was directed southwards, rather than to the north where Japanese ships were already steaming away after recovering their planes. Fortunately for the outnumbered Americans, no contact was made.

On 8 December, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the Congress to ask for a declaration of war against Japan. Referring to December Seventh, 1941, as a "day that shall live in infamy", he gave the Pearl Harbor attack its most famous and enduring title. Within a few days, Germany and Italy had declared war on the United States. Even before the President's speech, Americans were flooding recruiting offices to try to join the Armed Forces. For those already in the Service, the formality of war was now present, though for most, the grim reality of the experience was still well in the future.

Also on 8 December, Vice Admiral William F. Halsey brought his Enterprise task force into Pearl Harbor, where the enormity of the destruction shocked all hands. Halsey's comment, "Before we're through with 'em, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell!", probably represented a universal feeling, not just in the Fleet, but in virtually the entire Nation.

Four days after the raid, on 11 December, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox arrived at Pearl Harbor for a personal inspection. On his return to Washington, he recommended the relief of the Pacific Fleet's commander. Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was temporarily replaced by the Battle Force commander, Vice Admiral William S. Pye. Kimmel's permanent replacement, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who had been Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, arrived on Christmas Day and took command at year's end.

Knox's brief visit to Pearl Harbor was but the first of a long series of official investigations into the causes of such a successful enemy surprise attack. However, the most important element of the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, the fighting of World War II, could not await the outcome of such proceedings. For six months, Japan would encounter few reverses to its energetic offensives. Then, in May and June 1942, it would be twice checked, in the carrier battles of the Coral Sea and Midway. With its offensive power greatly diminished, Japan was soon engaged in a brutal attrition campaign over Guadalcanal, and, beginning in 1943, was on the receiving end of a relentless American drive west across the Pacific and north from Australia that brought vengeance for Pearl Harbor forcefully into the Japanese Home Islands.

This page features views related to the aftermath of the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

For photographs of the ceremonies in which Admiral Nimitz took command of the Pacific Fleet, see

For additional pictorial coverage of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, see


Click photograph for a larger image

Photo #: NH 50766

Pearl Harbor Raid, December 1941


USS Phoenix (CL-46) steams down the channel off Ford Island's "Battleship Row", past the sunken and burning USS West Virginia (BB-48), at left, and USS Arizona (BB-39), at right, 7 December 1941.

NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 87KB; 740 x 610

 
Photo #: 80-G-32544

USS Chandler (DMS-9)


Throws up spray as she steams out of Pearl Harbor at about the time of the Japanese raid on 7 December 1941.
Chandler was at sea on that day, and returned to Pearl Harbor two days later.
Note her Measure One camouflage, somewhat diminished in effectiveness by light-colored canvas weather screens and paravanes.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.

Online Image: 80KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-32506

Naval Air Station Ford Island, Pearl Harbor


View looking toward the southern end of Ford Island on 8 December 1941, the day after the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor.
Planes present include at least seven OS2U, two SOC, one PBY-5, one F4F-3 and two TBD-1s. One of the TBDs may be Bureau # 0289, which was flown by Ensign Theodore W. Marshall, USNR, during his attempt to follow Japanese planes back to their carriers on 7 December. He was awarded the Silver Star for the effort.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 91KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 208-CN-3992

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt


Addressing the United States Congress, in a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives.
This photograph, from U.S. Office of War Information files in the National Archives, has long been identified as the President delivering his war message on 8 December 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
However, a note with the original photograph states that the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (Hyde Park, NY) has said that the view is not of that event. If that is the case, it may represent the 1941 or 1942 State of the Union Address, as the presiding officers (seated behind the President) are Vice President Henry A. Wallace and House Speaker Sam Rayburn.
Photographed by Harris & Ewing, Washington, D.C.

Photograph from Office of War Information collection, U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 166KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-464088

USS Wichita (CA-45)


Ship's Chief Petty Officers listen to the radio broadcast of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's address to the Congress requesting a declaration of War against the Axis powers, circa 8 December 1941.
Note photograph of President Roosevelt on the bulkhead.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.

Online Image: 99KB; 740 x 610

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-32548

USS Northampton (CA-26)


Steams into Pearl Harbor on the morning of 8 December 1941, the day after the Japanese air attack. Photographed from Ford Island, looking toward the Navy Yard, with dredging pipe in the foreground.
Northampton was at sea with Vice Admiral Halsey's task force on the day of the attack.
Note her Measure One (dark) camouflage, with a Measure Five false bow wave, and manned anti-aircraft director positions.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.

Online Image: 98KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-32547

USS Northampton (CA-26)


Entering Pearl Harbor on the morning of 8 December 1941, the day after the Japanese raid. Note her crew standing by her lifelines.
The ship is in Measure One (dark) camouflage, with a Measure Five false bow wave.
In the background, beyond Northampton's after turret, is USS Argonne (AG-31), getting up steam. The ferry Nihoa (YFB-19) is visible just beyond Northampton's bow.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.

Online Image: 80KB; 640 x 675

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: 80-G-46137

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941


Members of the Navy Court of Inquiry, at the Navy Department, Washington, D.C., during a session of their examination of the circumstances of the attack.
In the center is Admiral Orin G. Murfin, USN(Retired), President of the Court. Admiral Edward C. Kalbfus, USN(Retired) is at left, and Vice Admiral Adolphus Andrews, USN(Retired) is at right.
The photograph was released on 24 July 1944.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, National Archives collection.

Online Image: 94KB; 740 x 605

Reproductions may also be available at National Archives.

 
Photo #: NH 77348

Admiral James O. Richardson, USN


Takes the oath prior to giving testimony during a Congressional investigation of the Pearl Harbor attack, during World War II.
Admiral Richardson was the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, from January 1940 until February 1941. He retired on 1 October 1942, but remained on active during the rest of World War II.

NHHC Photograph.

Online Image: 80KB; 740 x 605

 


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