Skip to main content

The Navy Department Library

Related Content
  • Theater of Operations--Pacific
Document Type
  • Monograph-Research Report
  • Historical Summary
  • Publication
Wars & Conflicts
  • World War II 1939-1945
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials

Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal

by Vice Admiral Homer N. Wallin

PDF Version [57.2MB]

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor:
Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal


Vice Admiral Homer N. Wallin
USN (Retired)

with a Foreword by

Rear Admiral Ernest McNeill Eller, USN (Retired)
Director of Naval History

Naval History Division
Washington: 1968


Pearl Harbor will long stand out in men's minds as an example of the results of basic unpreparedness of a peace loving nation, of highly efficient treacherous surprise attack and of the resulting unification of America into a single tidal wave of purpose to victory. Therefore, all will be interested in the unique volume that follows. It is Admiral Wallin's own handicraft, with only minor modifications by this staff.

The Navy has long needed a succinct account of the salvage operations at Pearl Harbor that miraculously resurrected what appeared to be a forever shattered fleet. We were delighted when Admiral Wallin agreed to undertake the job. He was exactly the right man for it -- in talent, in perception, and in experience. He had served intimately with Admiral Nimitz and with Admiral Halsey in the South Pacific, has commanded three different Navy Yards, and was a highly successful Chief of the Bureau of Ships.

On 7 December 1941 the then Captain Wallin was serving at Pearl Harbor. He witnessed the events of that shattering and unifying "Day of Infamy." His mind began to race at high speeds at once on the problems and means of getting the broken fleet back into service for its giant task. Unless the United States regained control of the sea, even greater disaster loomed. Without victory at sea, tyranny soon would surely rule all Asia and Europe. In a matter of time it would surely rule the Americas.

Captain Wallin salvaged most of the broken Pearl Harbor fleet that went on to figure prominently in the United States Navy's victory. So the account he masterfully tells covers what he masterfully accomplished. The United States owes him an unpayable debt for this high service among many others in his long career.

Following graduation at the Naval Academy in the Class of 1917, Ensign (and later Lieutenant) Wallin entered into the Navy' s then Construction Corps. He intensively studied ship construction in all its intricate facets, then he went on to various efficiently performed duties. At the time of Pearl Harbor Captain Wallin was serving as Battle Force engineer and was charged with overall responsibility for fleet repair and alterations. So he was in the thick of the Pearl Harbor attack from its onset.

When I asked him to write the account of the salvage I expected a well


written one from his experience, his profound mind, his thoroughness, his broad perception, and his skill in expressing himself in writing. What we got, as the reader will note, is not just salvage, but a succinct summary of international aggression during the '30's -- the surprise attack that inevitably followed weakness in face of aggression, -- and the resurrection and superb service of the fleet that suffered treachery. At first some of us looked upon the three as strange shipmates. But the more we thought about it the more we came to the conclusion that they made a unique team. Someone who had lived through all these, had thought about them at the time, had intimate personal contact in the attack and full responsibility for salvage had told them as the connected story they are - the three acts in a giant drama of world struggle.

Admiral Wallin has written with tireless effort to portray the truth. Whether or not one agrees with all that he says about the events through Pearl Harbor (and I do with all but a few), the reader can know that Admiral Wallin has assiduously sought just the truth. We sent him large cargoes of manuscript material and photographs to add to his own extensive collection. We supplied him with books or titles in numbers for his wide range of reading of published works in addition to the manuscript -- he is one of the few people who has seriously read the 39 volumes of the Pearl Harbor Congressional Hearings.

Rear Admiral F. Kent Loomis, Commander C. F. Johnson, Dr. William Morgan, Dr. Dean Allard, and others of us read the manuscript offering suggestions. Commander Victor Robison's assistant in the Curator Section, Mrs. Agnes Hoover; searched far and wide to obtain photographs to supplement the good ones supplied by Admiral Wallin. Dr. Allard, Mr. Bernard Cavalcante, and Miss Sandra Brown ably edited the manuscript for publication and have carried the burden of building a manuscript into a book. Mrs. Robert Winters of Fort Washington, Forest, Maryland, prepared the competent index to this volume. The story, however, is Admiral Wallin's and a significant one it is.

A host of Americans should thank Admiral Wallin for this work. May it help strengthen in the United States our sense of responsibility of service, our readiness to resist tyranny wisely, our integrity and devotion to the cause of liberty and dignity of man under God. May it also help to strengthen in all American minds understanding of the vast role the sea has played in America's destiny and is still to play. In the words of President Kennedy: "The sea means security. It can mean victory.

Rear Admiral, USN (Retired),
Director of Naval History.



Ever since the successful completion of Fleet Salvage at Pearl Harbor in 1942, I have frequently been importuned to write a comprehensive report of that gratifying outcome of the Pearl Harbor disaster. However, in view of other work and avocations, and especially because of the immensity of the task, if it was to be authentic, I was negatively inclined, -- at least until a more propitious time.

It was not until the early part of 1965 that the Director of Naval History, Rear Admiral Ernest M. Eller, U.S. Navy, Retired, persuaded me to take the pen in hand. His argument was that the Pearl Harbor Salvage Operation should be made a matter of historical record, and could in addition serve as a ready reference book for any future work of that nature; also that he knew of no other person who could write a reasonably authentic account with the data and information still available. So, in a way, I was "Hobson's Choice" if the work was to be done at all.

Fortunately, I had rather complete files covering the work, inasmuch as through the years I had become some sort of "pack rat" on technical records pertaining to my specialty of ship design, construction, and repair. Although I had turned over most of these files and photographs to the Bureau of Ships of the Navy Department, they were returned to me when I agreed to undertake the writing job.

Despite the fact that nearly a quarter of a century has elapsed since the event a great portion of the impact of my experiences at Pearl Harbor and the salvage work is still quite clear in my memory. At that time I was Material Officer on the staff of Vice Admiral William S. Pye, commander of the Battle Force of the Pacific Fleet. Therefore the handling of the damage sustained by ships of the fleet immediately became of first concern to me as an existent responsibility. Within a short time I was relieved of all other duties and ordered to full time work as Fleet Salvage Officer.

Ever since those days I have at times pondered the events which occurred before and after the Japanese air raid, and have often wished that the American people might have obtained a more correct understanding of the "Whys and Wherefores." It bothered me greatly when, following the


attack, so many Americans and so much of our news media took a "Who dunnit" attitude toward the disaster and seemed to be more anxious to blame military negligence and inattention to duty rather than to gain a right appraisal of the panorama of events. Perhaps it is an element of human nature to accuse individuals and to find scapegoats whenever distasteful events occur.

Consequently, with the knowledge of one who was on the scene at the time, and of one willing to undertake a vast amount of research from official and other sources, I agreed to proceed with the salvage write-up, -- provided I could at the same time pinpoint the situation which pertained in the fleet and in our relations with Japan at that period.

In order to do this with some semblance of authenticity I have reviewed a goodly portion of the testimony given before the Roberts Commission in December 1941 and January 1942, the Hart Investigation in 1944, the Hewitt Inquiry of 1945, the Naval Court of Inquiry of 1944, the Army Investigation in 1944, the Congressional Investigation of 1945, and the State Department releases published in 1953. This latter has been drawn upon freely as it is the official report of the United States' Foreign Policy from 1931 to 1941 inclusive, and is entitled Peace and War. Also I have read a considerable number of books and reports on the Pearl Harbor attack, some written by Japanese participants. Virtually all of this information has the advantage of hindsight so far as evaluation is concerned and is therefore of inestimable value in piecing together a momentous event which requires retrospection as a primary ingredient.

The Pearl Harbor episode brought forth multitudinous opinions and convictions, some highly emotional and some pertaining to personalities. Others were based on cold logic and technical facts. In the over-all we must all agree that the event which set off a cruel and bloody war is fraught with many lessons and guideposts for the future. I have endeavored to pinpoint a few of these which are particularly worthwhile, and have striven honestly to be fair to all persons who were involved in any way either before, during, or after the event.

The final appraisal of the Pearl Harbor attack is given in Chapter XV. It reveals indisputably that the Japanese government made a great mistake in attacking Pearl Harbor, as it did also in other aspects of the struggle for dominance in the Pacific. There is now no doubt that the attack resulted from the gross unpreparedness of the American military forces, as was


attested by the 1945 statement of President Truman and the 1965 statement of Admiral Nimitz.

I am indebted to the Director of Naval History and his staff for invaluable assistance throughout, and of course for general guidance. That office has furnished much valuable data and information such as official damage reports from the Bureau of Ships, descriptions of rehabilitation work from various naval shipyards, pertinent excerpts from ships' logs, and so forth.

Also, I am most grateful to the Commandant of the Thirteenth Naval District, Rear Admiral William E. Ferrall, U.S. Navy, and his staff for much assistance, including office space and equipment, some secretarial work, and a widespread spirit of cooperation and helpfulness.

Vice Admiral, USN (Retired).



Foreword v
Preface vii
Index 365
  1. Basic Causes of War 9
  2. Germany's Insatiable Appetite for Aggression 9
  3. The Aggressions of Italy 12
  4. The Brutal Aggressiveness of Japan 14
  1. American Attitudes and Policies 25
  2. Retrenchment in Military Preparedness 26
  3. Diplomacy at Work to Prevent War and to Improve Preparedness for War 28
  4. Hardening of Public Opinion 31
  5. Assistance to Friendly Nations 33
  6. Military Preparedness Measures 35
  1. Why Was the Fleet There? 41
  2. Army-Navy Defense of Pearl Harbor 43
  3. Reconnaissance 44
  4. Radar 48
  5. Operation of the Fleet 50
  6. How Powerful Was the Fleet? 51
  7. Where Were the Fleet Ships on 7 December? 54
Chapter V IMMINENCE OF WAR 59-82
  1. Breakdown of Diplomacy 59
  2. Japan's Knowledge of Pearl Harbor 60
  3. America's Knowledge of Japan's Intentions 65
  4. Warning to the Fleet 74
  5. What Information Did Hawaii Not Receive? 79
  1. Preparedness, War Games, and Drills 83
  2. Assembling of Attack Force 85
  3. Route of the Pearl Harbor Attack Force 85
  4. The Attack Force 88
  5. The Attack 88
  6. Direction of Attack 94
  7. Submarines 94
  8. Japanese Losses 94
  9. Japanese Estimates of Damage to the Americans 96
  1. Sunday Was a Day of Rest in Hawaii in Peacetime 99
  2. Submarines 100
  3. We Are at War 100
  4. All Air Bases Immobilized 101
  5. Ships Attacked by Torpedo Planes 102
  6. Inboard Ships Hit by High-level Bombers 104
  7. Losses in Honolulu 105
  8. Officers and Men Aboard Ship and Fit for Duty 105
  9. Anti-aircraft Batteries Which Opposed the Japanese Planes 106 106
  10. Deeds of Heroism 108
  11. Total Dead and Wounded in the Services 108
  12. Sabotage 108
  13. State of Mind of Military Personnel 109
  1. Military and Civilians Taken by Surprise 113
  2. Declaration of War 114
  3. Secretary of the Navy Visits Pearl Harbor 114
  4. The Roberts Commission 115
  5. President Roosevelt's Fireside Chat 116
  6. Admiral Kimmel and General Short Relieved 117
  7. Admiral C. W. Nimitz Takes Command 118
  8. Admiral Ernest J. King Becomes Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Fleet 118
  9. Admiral Nimitz's Policy of a "Limited Offensive" 120
  10. Halsey's Early Raids 121
  1. Condition of Ships at 0755 125
  2. Impressions and Actions on USS West Virginia 126
  3. Impressions and Actions on USS Oklahoma 132
  4. Impressions and Actions on USS Arizona 136
  5. Impressions and Actions on USS California 140
  6. Impressions and Actions on USS Utah 146
  7. The Performance of USS Nevada 150
  8. Impressions and Actions on USS Maryland 152
  9. Impressions and Actions on USS Tennessee 156
  1. Destroyers 161
  2. Battleships 165
  3. Cruisers 165
  4. Miscellaneous Auxiliary Ships 168
  5. Submarines 169
  6. Oglala 170
  1. Priority of Work 175
  2. Helping Each Other and Repelling Enemy Attacks 176
  3. Freeing the Trapped Men 176
  4. Salvage Operations from Argonne 178
  5. Start of Salvage Organization 179
  6. Recovery of Ordnance Material 186
  7. Medical Help for Wounded or Burned 186
  1. USS Pennsylvania, Battleship (Launched in 1915) 189
  2. USS Honolulu, Cruiser (Launched in 1936) 191
  3. USS Helena, Cruiser (Launched in 1939) 192
  4. USS Maryland, Battleship (Launched in 1920) 192
  5. USS Tennessee, Battleship (Launched in 1919) 193
  6. USS Vestal, Repair Ship (Launched in 1908) 194
  7. USS Raleigh, Cruiser (Launched in 1922) 195
  8. USS Curtiss, Seaplane Tender (Launched in 1940) 197
  9. USS Helm, Destroyer (Launched in 1937) 198
  1. USS Shaw, Destroyer (Launched in 1935) 203
  2. Floating Drydock Number Two 205
  3. The Tug Sotoyomo 206
  4. USS Cassin (Launched in 1935) and Downes (Launched In 1936) 206
  5. USS Nevada Battleship (Launched in 1914) 211
  6. USS California, Battleship (Launched in 1919) 222
  7. USS West Virginia Battleship (Launched in 1921) 233
  8. USS Oglala (Launched in 1907) 243
  9. USS Plunger (Launched in 1936) 252
  10. USS Oklahoma, Battleship (Launched in 1914) 253
  11. USS Utah, Former Battleship (Launched in 1909) 262
  12. USS Arizona, Battleship (Launched in 1913) 267
  1. Lack of Material 273
  2. Fire Hazards on the Ships Themselves 273
  3. Salvage of Ordnance Material 274
  4. Electrical Equipment 275
  5. Japanese Torpedoes and Bombs 276
  6. Diving Experience 277
  7. Deadly Gas Encountered on Most Ships 277
  8. Gasoline Explosions 279
  9. Electric-Drive Battleships 280
  10. Classified Correspondence and Personal Property 280
  11. Removal of Human Bodies 280
  12. Cleaning of Compartments 281
  13. Work Performed by the Navy Yard 281
  14. Use of Sunken or Damaged Ships in the War Effort 282
  15. Spirit of the Salvage Crew 283
  1. Japan's Mistake in Attacking Pearl Harbor 287
  2. Other Mistakes Made by the Japanese 291
  3. United States' Aversion to War 292
Appendices 297-363
A. Survivors' Statements and Actions 297
B. Restoration of Unwatered Compartments and Machinery of Sunken Ships 328
C. Gas Hazard and Protection Against Gas 337
D. Electric-Drive Machinery of Battleships 339
E. The Salvage of USS West Virginia 342
F. The Plan for the Salvage of USS Oklahoma 356
G. Ships Present at Pearl Harbor and Vicinity, 7 December 1941 362

--xi - xv--

Chapter I




Chapter I

7 DECEMBER 1941 marked an abrupt turning point in world history. The treacherous Japanese air attack on the United States Fleet at Pearl Harbor and the Army Air Forces in Hawaii triggered a World War of unprecedented proportions.

On 8 December 1941 the Congress of the United States declared war on Japan, whereupon Germany and Italy three days later, on 11 December 1941, declared war upon the United States. Their action was in compliance with their mutual assistance treaty with Japan known as the Tripartite Pact of 27 September 1940. It is worthy of note that the United States did not formally enter the European War until after Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

Thus the Pearl Harbor attack brought the full potential of the United States into the European War which had continued since September 1939 and which up to that time seemed destined to bring victory to the aggressors. But, as a consequence of United States involvement, an all-out war was touched off around the globe. The tide of battle was gradually turned against Hitler's Nazi Germany and Italy's Fascist Mussolini. Their dictatorships, as well as the brutal militarism of Japan, were doomed to ignominious defeat. The war lords of Japan's efficient military machine eventually suffered complete rout, and were doomed to humiliating defeat and unconditional surrender. The defeat of these three powers was accomplished only after a long series of bloody battles, land, sea, and air, which continued at an ever-increasing tempo for nearly four years.

The titanic world struggle not only changed territorial boundaries and governmental framework, but affected basically the whole fabric of civilization, even the manner of living and the peoples' attitudes, standards, and ways of life. Indeed, the consequences of Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and Hawaii were world-shaking, and they are of a continuing nature which will influence history in all phases for years yet to come.

The immediate result of the Pearl Harbor attack was seeming disaster to the sea power of the United States, but this proved only temporary. The


psychological effect on fleet personnel was to arouse a fighting spirit which turned disasters into victories.

Among the American civilian population too, the attack unified wide diversities of viewpoint and opinion, and solidified the total population in a spirit of willing sacrifice and determined effort which gave unlimited support to the armed forces. The mobilization of moral, mental, physical, and spiritual effort produced a miracle of production such as has never been imagined by man. The output of ships, airplanes, tanks, guns, and landing craft was astronomical. Likewise, the over-all logistic support to the millions of Americans and their Allies who manned these weapons of war, was quite beyond calculation.

Thus, the Japanese militarists who had planned the Pearl Harbor attack over many months of careful and arduous preparation triggered for themselves a disaster quite the opposite of their dreams of conquest. Rather than conquerors they became the supine victims of their own machinations. The Japanese. government had been led into violating its solemn agreements signed at The Hague in 1907 not to attack another nation without a declaration of war or an ultimatum. That government was entirely dismantled and re-instituted as a democratic government by a generous and compassionate America.

So, in retrospect, the ambitions of the military forces of Japan, which culminated in the treacherous attack on the Fleet and Hawaiian Air Forces, proved calamitous. Its perpetrators failed entirely to understand that unrighteousness, although flourishing for a time, cannot eventually prevail in a world whose major powers stand for peaceful pursuits and fair dealing. The Japanese government failed miserably in underestimating the recuperative power of its newly made enemy and the American potential for all-out combat. The success of the Japanese attack was more than compensated for by the aroused moral and spiritual powers of the American people as they applied themselves to the task before them.

However, it must be recognized that the Japanese performed a masterful job in planning, preparing, practicing, and executing the attack. The efficiency of all aspects was well-nigh unbelievable, especially by people who habitually underestimated the capabilities of the Japanese. It is worthy of note that the weapons employed by Japan were the airplane and the aerial torpedo. Both of these were developed by the United States, but not as efficiently as used by the Japanese. Why? Because the United States was unprepared for war due to a public fetish that preparedness invited international misunderstanding and eventual conflict.


So, before outlining the damage wrought and the remedial measures taken, it seems appropriate to describe in some detail the strategy and tactics employed in delivering the attack, and why it was so successful. Thereafter we might cover the Fleet's response to the onslaught, the effect on specific ships, remedial action taken including details of salvage operations, and so forth. But first it would seem profitable to pinpoint the basic causes underlying and overlying the international situation which set off the holocaust.

Although much has been written regarding the world turmoil which developed during the 1930's, a short and specific recounting of the fateful events which culminated in World War II is necessary. Now it is quite clear that the war was the result of wanton military aggression by Germany, Italy, and Japan, and that the United States was forced to take up arms against these predatory forces if freedom and peace were to survive in the world. These basic facts have never been fully comprehended by the American people; neither have they understood how it was possible for the Pearl Harbor disaster to occur. One of the purposes of this book is to enlighten the public on these points, especially the new generations. Such is a responsibility of historical writings, and it is particularly important that the oncoming personnel of the Navy and the other military services should have a ready reference from which to select guidelines when confronted with comparable problems and circumstances. It is well to take account of the words of George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

It is interesting to note that our wartime enemies are now our closest friends. Japan, Germany, and Italy enjoy the compassion and generosity of America, and are industrial leaders in their parts of the world. When we speak of Germany we mean, of course, West Germany, under the influence of the United States and her Allies. East Germany is a satellite of Russia and has been subjected to Soviet influence rather than to the influence of the Western World.

Changes have also occurred among Allies in the war, including Russia and China. Russia has been the mother country of communism and has been our principal adversary for at least twenty years while she has fomented unrest throughout the world. China, whom we befriended against Japan, has fallen to communism and has turned out to be our mortal enemy. Strange indeed are the anomalies that occur in international relations.




Chapter II
The Trends Toward War




Chapter II
The Trends Toward War


Warfare with its tremendous sacrifice in lives and treasure is abhorrent to all civilized people. Some wars of the past have been considered justified when waged for religious or idealistic purposes, such as to right the wrongs imposed upon a people. But here we are concerned with warfare based primarily on aggression and greed. History tells us that armed conflict is and always has been a fact of life whenever covetous governments desire their neighbors' property, or whenever thirst for power dictates the purpose and aim of officials in control. In such circumstances the relative weakness of the intended victim is a contributing factor. It has been proved that it is impossible for a nation to run away from a bad situation, to believe that a serious situation does not exist, or that freedom is not involved.

Peace-loving people teach and preach that national aggression and military force do not pay. But that would depend, it seems, whether or not the aggressor is met and repelled by a more powerful force in which hopefully righteousness adds to the power. This fact is true among nations even as among citizens who are menaced by criminals and bandits.


One of history's outstanding examples of wanton aggression and thirst for power is Hitler's Germany. Following his coming to power in 1933 Hitler initiated an armament build-up and psychological aggression which were awesome to all peace-loving nations. Even so, the various acts of aggression were gradual and limited, as if to make them somewhat natural and more acceptable to the victims and to onlookers. In effect, Germany pursued the "Nibble Theory" by taking a little here and later a little there, but always professing a fervent desire for peaceful practices and an end to expansive


ventures. Coupled with this were the appeasement policies of the leading world powers interested in world stability, but nonetheless trying desperately to avoid coming to grips with a formidable aggressor.

It is of immense importance to review the germination of the European War because it became a direct threat to American security, and certainly an indirect cause for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition, the experience of European nations with Nazi Germany was in many ways parallel to America's experience with pre-war Japan.

The record shows that Hitler became Chancellor in Germany's government in 1933. In 1934, he took the title of Fuehrer, which means in effect "all-powerful leader," and set out to build up the peoples' desire for expansion and the establishment of a so-called "New Order" in Europe.

Some of the significant steps taken before and after the declaration of the war in Europe were the following: 

a. In 1933 Hitler denounced and quit the League of Nations. Violation of several provisions of the Versailles Treaty which ended World War I followed in short order.

b. In 1936 Germany violated the Locarno Treaty of 1925, which guaranteed the status quo in Western Europe, and reoccupied the Rhineland.

c. In 1936 Germany joined Italy in entering the Spanish Civil War.

d. In March 1938 Germany annexed Austria in violation of its pledge made in July 1936.

e. In September 1938 Hitler demanded control of part of Czechoslovakia. This aroused all major nations to the danger of general war, whereupon England's Prime Minister Chamberlain journeyed to Munich to confer with Hitler in order to avoid war in Europe. The result was that Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy met and agreed to Hitler's demand for taking over that part of Czechoslovakia called Sudetenland.

f. Six months later, in March 1939, Germany took over most of Czechoslovakia in violation of the agreement made at Munich.

g. By this time Hitler had put in high gear the persecution of the Jews in Germany and the annexed territories, such that President Roosevelt "could scarcely believe that such things could occur in a twentieth century civilization." 1

h. At this point the United States appealed to Hitler and Mussolini


1. Peace and War, United State Foreign Policy 1931-1941, Department of State Publication, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1942, p. 58. Hereafter cited as Peace and War.


for assurance of no further attacks on independent States of Europe and the Near East. Neither replied directly. The American Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, stated that all other nations were confronted with the "tragic alternatives of surrender or armed defense.2

i. In August 1939 Hitler demanded the return to Germany of Danzig, which was declared a free city in the Versailles Treaty. Following this demand Great Britain and France warned Germany that in compliance with their treaties with Poland, aggression against Poland would mean war.

j. At this point the President of the United States appealed to Germany, Italy, and Poland to agree to settle their differences by direct negotiation or by arbitration. While Poland replied favorably, no direct reply was made by Germany because, the German Ambassador explained, the invasion had already begun due to the uncooperative attitude of Poland.3 Thus with the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 the European War began.

k. As the tempo of war developed, Germany asserted its power in every direction, especially its aggression toward neutral and unoffending nations.

l. In April 1940 Germany took over Denmark without opposition, and soon occupied Norway after overcoming Norway's spirited but futile resistance. This was denounced by the United States.

m. Then Belgium and the Netherlands were invaded and subjugated, as well as Luxembourg, in May 1940.

n. Early in 1941 Germany went to the assistance of Italy in its faltering invasion of Greece. By April 1941 the German forces overran both Greece and Yugoslavia and persuaded Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary to join the Tripartite Pact.

o. In June 1941 Germany attacked Russia in violation of their nonaggression pact.

p. Following its declaration of war in 1939, Germany carried on a vigorous submarine campaign against merchant ships, and gradually expanded its campaign against ships of neutral nations with little or no consideration for the safety of the crews.

q. By September 1941 Germany had sunk numerous American owned merchant ships in the Atlantic, and had attacked U.S.S. Greer. The first shots were fired in the Battle of the Atlantic.


2. Ibid., p. 63.

3. Ibid., p. 66.



USS Greer was attacked by a German submarine on 4 September 1941.

r. On 17 October 1941 Germany torpedoed U.S.S. Kearney in the North Atlantic causing severe damage and killing eleven men. Later in the month, destroyer Reuben James was sunk by a U-boat and lost 115 officers and men.


Although Germany's aggressions covered a larger field of action, Italy's predatory acts were even more devoid of presumed justification. Whether Mussolini copied Hitler, or vice versa, is not clear, but both came into office originally as purported socialist reformers and developed into absolute dictators in the fateful years between 1934 and 1941. Both exercised emotional leadership over their populations to a degree which bordered on hypnosis, and thus they had full and loyal civilian support in their nefarious ventures.

a. As early as 1934 diplomatic circles were aware that Mussolini was making preparations to take over some territory in Africa. Defenseless Ethiopia was selected as his first victim, and in October 1935 Italian armed forces invaded that country. Emperor Haile Selassie resisted valiantly, but his primitive forces were no match for Italy's army and navy. The conquest of Ethiopia was completed by May 1936.


b. The League of Nations became interested in this aggression and declared that Italy had violated her obligations under the Covenant and recommended commercial and financial sanctions against Italy. The imposition of sanctions by world powers was regarded with some fear and indifference; consequently the limited sanctions that were imposed proved wholly ineffective.

c. The United States held that Italy violated the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 which renounced war as an instrument of national policy.

d. Together with Germany, Italy participated in the Spanish Civil War in 1936, contrary to commitments previously made.

e. Together Germany and Italy formed the Berlin-Rome Axis and Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact against Russia in late 1936.

f. In November 1937 this Pact was expanded to include Italy, the same having been under negotiation among the three powers since 1934-35.

g. In March 1939, when Hitler took Czechoslovakia, Mussolini's Fascist legions occupied Albania on Good Friday, 7 April 1939.

h. When Germany invaded Belgium, The Netherlands, and France in May 1940 the United States appealed to Italy to refrain from participation and thus extending the war. Mussolini replied: "Italy is and intends to remain allied with Germany and that Italy cannot remain absent at a moment in which the fate of Europe is at stake." 4

i. In September 1940 Germany, Italy, and Japan announced to the world that they had signed a treaty of alliance which provided mutual assistance -- political, economic, and military -- and recognized the leadership of Germany and Italy in establishing a "New Order" in Europe, and the leadership of Japan in establishing a "New Order" in Greater East Asia.

j. When the German Army was at the gates of Paris in June 1940, Italy declared war on France and Great Britain. Then it was that Winston Churchill called Mussolini "a jackal for plunging a knife into the back of his prostrate neighbor."

k. Italy invaded Greece in October 1940 but was unable to overcome its brave defenders. When the Italian Army was forced to retreat into Albania, Germany came to Italy's assistance. The result was that Greece and Yugoslavia fell to the Axis Powers in April 1941. Then Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary joined the Tripartite Pact, thus extending the war.


4. Ibid., p. 72.



Japan's program of belligerency and expansion had been in operation for nearly ten years prior to signing the treaty of alliance with Germany and Italy. However, Japan made common cause with Hitler and Mussolini as early as 1934. Japan's pattern of expansion, conquest, and terrorism was quite similar to that of Germany, especially with regard to expressing idealistic motives and promises while still moving forward with new invasions and increased demands. Japan's record of treaty violation and aggression exceeds those of either Germany or Italy. This fact should be comprehended and understood by any person interested in the basic causes of the war which was started at Pearl Harbor. Let us therefore list some of the important items: 

a. Following World War I Japan was granted a mandate over the islands formerly held by Germany in the Marshalls and Carolines. Contrary to stipulations in the Treaty of Versailles the Japanese proceeded to fortify certain islands and to build military bases in those islands, and to deny entry to the islands by foreigners. It might be noted parenthetically that the later capture of these formidable bases in World War II cost the United States thousands of casualties.

b. In 1931 the Japanese Army invaded Manchuria and set up a puppet government under the name of Manchukuo. The United States protested this action as an act of war in cynical disregard of Japan's obligations under the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the Nine Power Treaty of 1922 regarding the principles and policies to be followed concerning China.5 The United States declared that it would not recognize any arrangement which impaired the rights of its citizens in China.6

c. For several months in 1932, Japan occupied Shanghai and refused to consider the proposals for peaceful settlement put forth by Great Britain, France, Italy, and the United States.

d. In 1932 Japan developed an internal campaign of public animosity towards foreign nations, especially the United States, even proposing war if necessary. Self-confidence was stimulated by the constant reminder that the Japanese military forces had always proved invincible.

e. In 1933 Japan extended the boundaries of Manchukuo by occupying the province of Jehol in North China.


5. Ibid., pp. 4 and 5.

6. Ibid., p. 3.


f. When the League of Nations in 1933 adopted a report finding Japan an aggressor in China and acting wrongly in principle, the Japanese delegation walked out and the Japanese government gave notice of withdrawal from the League of Nations.

g. In response to the American protests against aggression and disregard of treaty rights, Japan in early 1934 advised the United States it had no intention of making trouble with any other power, and that no question between Japan and the United States was incapable of amicable solution.7 During diplomatic exchanges however, when the United States insisted on adherence to treaties including trade and commercial agreements, Japan gradually put forth a claim of super-sovereignty over parts of Asia on the basis of its special rights and responsibilities.8

h. In 1934 Japan gave notice of its refusal to renew the 1922 Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armament.

i. By 1935 Japan had considerable domination over China and was building up its military strength. Japanese diplomats repeatedly pointed out that Japan was destined to be the leader of oriental civilization and criticized former Japanese government officials for "signing agreements which could not be carried out if Japan wanted to progress in the world."9

j. At the London Naval Conference in 1935-1936 Japan asked for naval parity with Great Britain and the United States. When this was not agreed to by the other powers Japan withdrew from the Conference and refused to abide with any limitation on naval armament.

k. During these times the United States emphasized the importance of amicable conferences and such principles as equality in commercial and industrial affairs without resorting to force or threats of force. Japan expressed general agreement, and its diplomats frequently regretted the misunderstanding and misapprehension of the United States as to Japan's intentions, and gave assurance that their armaments were not intended for war against anybody, especially the United States.10

l. Encouraged by the apparent improvement in the general progress and spirit of the people in Germany and Italy a group of Japanese Army officers fomented a mutiny which was directed toward setting up military control of national policies. The Japanese Army did many things to force the government to pursue a policy of expansionism in China.


7. Ibid., pp. 18 and (This viewpoint was expressed many times.)

8. Ibid., pp. 38 and 39. (Kurusu, Yoshida, and others put forth this argument.)

9. Ibid., p, 38. (Kurusu's statement to the U. S. Embassy in Tokyo, 23 December 1935.)

10. Ibid., p. 39. (Statement by Yoshida.)


m. On 25 November 1936 Japan and Germany signed their Anti-Comintern Pact, which foreshadowed the similar patterns of aggression which each nation was to follow.

n. In July 1937 the Marco Polo Bridge incident occurred. This was a planned clash between troops of Japan and China, which resulted in Japanese occupation of additional Chinese territory including Peiping in North China. At this point the United States addressed a note to all nations regarding the fundamental principles and international policy toward peaceful existence. The United States offered its good offices to compose differences between China and Japan and to negotiate an agreement. The diplomats of Germany and Italy agreed but Japan refused on the ground that the objectives and principles could only be attained in the far eastern situation by full recognition and realization of the actual particular circumstances of that region.11 As Japan poured more manpower and engines of war into China, the United States warned of the serious consequences to peace, goodwill, and cooperation as compared to the distrust and antipathy being generated among world powers by the brutal policies pursued by the Japanese government.12

o. The Assembly of the League of Nations on 6 October 1937 adopted a report stating that Japanese activities in China violated Japan's treaty obligations. The United States, though not a member of the League, proclaimed a similar position.

p. The following month nineteen nations assembled at a conference in Brussels to consider peaceful means for ending the Japan-China conflict. Japan refused to attend on the ground that the dispute applied only to Japan and China and was outside the provisions of the Nine Power Treaty. All members of the conference except Italy went on record opposing Japan's position.13

q. On 12 December 1937 the United States was shocked by the air-bombing and destruction of the United States gunboat Panay and three United States merchant vessels on the Yangtze River, followed by the machine gunning of crews and passengers. The United States demanded formal apologies, complete indemnification, and assurances against future attacks on American nationals and property in China, or any unlawful interference whatsoever with its legal rights and appropriate business. To this


11. Ibid., pp. 44 and 45.

12. Ibid., p. 47.

13. Ibid., pp. 49 and 50.


strong representation Japan replied favorably, expressed profound regret, and fervently hoped that friendly relations would not be affected by this unfortunate affair.14


USS Panay was sunk by Japanese aircraft, 12 December 1937.

r. In November 1937 Italy became a partner of Japan in the Anti-Comintern Pact.

s. After Germany's subjugation of the Netherlands in May 1940, Japan expressed some concern as to the status of the Netherlands Indies. The United States informed Japan and the world that any alteration of the status quo would prejudice the cause of stability, peace, and security of the whole Pacific area on account of the importance of the area's rich resources of oil, rubber, tin, and other commodities.15


14. Ibid., p. 51.

15. Ibid., p. 89.


t. Early in June 1940 Japan delivered a full-scale bombing raid on Chungking, endangering American lives and property. The United States' protest was answered by Japan's request for the removal of our nationals. A few days later 113 Japanese aircraft repeated the bombing. Thereafter, Japan requested all nations to remove from China all troops and war equipment which they might have in that area.

u. During these times the Japanese occupation forces in various parts of China harassed and assaulted American citizens, destroyed their property, and even attacked missions and missionary hospitals. This was part of a terrorist campaign to compel foreigners to evacuate.

v. Upon the fall of France in June 1940 Japan asked the French government at Vichy for rights and military bases in the French possessions in Indo-China. This request was backed by an ultimatum and threats of force, but even while awaiting a favorable reply the Japanese occupied strategic points. The Japanese had occupied the island of Hainan in 1939, which is abreast of Indo-China.

w. On 27 September 1940 Japan signed a treaty of alliance with Germany and Italy which provided for mutual assistance in the establishment of Japanese leadership of a "New Order" in Asia, and for German-Italian leadership of a "New Order" in Europe. This was highly important to Japan's objectives, and it was a clever move on the part of Germany and Italy. It was intended to require the United States to defend itself in the Pacific and thus to reduce her strength in the Atlantic. In case the United States should enter the European conflict its military forces, especially its Navy, would be divided between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

x. At about this time the United States announced discontinuance of steel and scrap exportation to Japan. This was in accordance with the Export Control Act of July 1940. Japan immediately protested this action as an "unfriendly act," whereupon Secretary of State Hull stated that it was "amazing" that, after violating American rights and interests, to question this sort of response, especially when in the subjugation of China the United States is called unfriendly unless we sit on the sideline cheerfully and agreeably as these acts go on.16

y. Many discussions were held between the diplomats of the United States and Japan to improve a deteriorating situation. The United States pointed out Japan's program of expansion by military force, together with


16. Ibid., p. 94. (The above is a paraphrase of Secretary Hull's reply to Ambassador Horiguchi.)


intensive construction of military and naval armament, and the openly declared intention to achieve and maintain by force of arms a dominant position in the Western Pacific. Secretary of State Hull cautioned that Japan's "best interests lay in the development of friendly relations with the United States and with other countries which believed in orderly and peaceful international processes."17

z. In January 1941 the United States Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew, reported rumors that Japanese military forces planned a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in case of trouble with the United States.

aa. Beginning in March 1941 continuous conferences were held in Washington between Japanese Ambassador Nomura and the State Department for the settlement of differences with regard to the Japanese policy which was sloganized as a "New Order in Greater East Asia." As it turned out, this included taking territory by force and violating freedom of trade and freedom of the seas.

bb. In May 1941 Japan proposed a settlement based on recognition by the United States of Manchukuo, recognition of peaceful expansion of Japan to the south, and discontinuance of United States material assistance to China. In return Japan would guarantee the neutrality of the Philippine Islands. The Japanese were not willing to commit themselves unreservedly to a policy of peace, and would not abandon their ties with Hitler and Mussolini.18 However, the Department of State wrote a comprehensive statement in which important concessions were made to Japanese policy, but with reservations intended to exert a restraining influence.19

cc. In the summer of 1941 Hitler pressured the French Vichy Government to grant Japan military base rights in Southern Indo-China. These became effective in July 1941 whereupon the President of the United States proposed neutralization of Indo-China so that all nations could carry on trade and commerce. Japan rejected this proposal. Then on 1 August, the United States imposed an oil embargo on Japan.

dd. For several years military control of the Japanese government had been in the ascendancy. Almost full army control had been gained by threat, pressure, and assassination. The conservative elements, even including the Emperor, were shunted aside. Premier Konoye was required to resign in October 1941, and the new premier was Army General Hideki Tojo. Thus


17. Ibid., p. 113.

18. Ibid., p. 116.

19. Ibid., p. 117.


the militaristic element was in full control of Japan and took over the government with the purpose of consolidating their aggressions in China and proceeding with the "Greater East-Asia Co-prosperity Sphere."

ee. In return for discontinuance of the United States' trade restrictions, Japan offered to cooperate in a development of natural resources and trade in the southwest Pacific. There was a Japanese threat to move into Thailand and to dominate the Indian Ocean while efforts of Germany and Italy were aimed at the Near and Middle East. At the same time the survival of Great Britain was in serious doubt.

ff. Japanese diplomats now proposed a conference between their Premier Konoye and President Roosevelt to reach an overall settlement. But they were unwilling to agree in advance on the basic principles which the United States had consistently championed and which Japan had consistently violated. But, as always, the Japanese stated that they "had no intention of using 'without provocation,' military force against any neighboring nation."20

gg. On 3 November 1941 Ambassador Grew explained to the United States government that the militaristic government of Japan could not be stopped, and that war could not be averted by the imposition of economic embargoes or sanctions. On 17 November 1941 he suggested that vigilance against sudden Japanese naval or military attack was essential.21

hh. In November 1941 Japan's special envoy, Mr. Kurusu, arrived in Washington and endeavored with the help of the Japanese Ambassador to justify Japan's situation, which was really fully understood by our State Department. He had nothing new to offer on the crucial question of Japan's aggressions. The United States promised that if Japan would indicate some peaceful intentions they would be well responded to.22

ii. Since Japan's expressions of peaceful intent contained qualifications and restrictions, and did not budge from the fundamental objectives stated by its military leaders, the United States under date of 26 November 1941 made crystal clear its position. The American note was sent when it was fully realized that the long drawn-out negotiations to improve the relations between the two governments were failing.

jj. In early December 1941 there were threatening Japanese troop movements into Southeast Asia. When this was protested by President Roosevelt


20. Ibid., pp. 124 and 125.

21. Ibid., pp. 130 and 131.

22. Ibid., pp. 132 and 134.


Rear Admiral William R. Furlong

Rear Admiral William R. Furlong, USN, Commander Minecraft, Battle Force, was in his flagship, USS Oglala, during the Japanese attack. He became Commandant of the Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor, on 25 December 1941.

on 2 December, Kurusu explained that they were for protection against Chinese troops, and that Japan was concerned lest the allied powers should occupy Indo-China.23

kk. On 6 December 1941 President Roosevelt transmitted a telegram to the Emperor of Japan appealing for cooperation toward eliminating any form of military threat, and for restoring traditional unity.

ll. Under date of 7 December 1941 Japan's reply to the 26 November message was delivered to Secretary Hull. The message was abusive and condemnatory, and ended with breaking off the negotiations. Secretary Hull said to the Japanese diplomats: "I have never seen a document that was more crowded with infamous falsehoods and distortions -- infamous falsehoods and distortions on a scale so huge that I never imagined until today that any Government on this planet was capable of uttering them."24

The world now knows that when the Japanese note was written their naval task force was on the way to attack Pearl Harbor, and the attack had


23. Ibid., pp. 139 and 140.

24. Ibid., p. 142. (Secretary Hull's statement of 7 December 1941 to the Japanese diplomats.)


already been delivered more than an hour before the note was delivered by the Japanese diplomats. This certainly shows bad faith on the part of the Japanese. Their attack force was assembled and underway before the 26 November 1941 note was received by them; their basis for peace was premised upon an unbending attitude regarding Japanese policies in the Pacific; their continued diplomatic efforts were fraudulent because they knew that the United States would not agree to their demands. Even as late as 30 November 1941, General Tojo as Premier stated that the Japanese purpose was to purge East Asia; with a vengeance, of hostile British and United States influences.


Chapter III
Problems and Dilemmas of the United States and Eventual Preparedness for War


Chapter III
Problems and Dilemmas of the United States and Eventual Preparedness for War


The gathering clouds of war in Europe and the Far East became more and more ominous to the United States during each of the half dozen years preceding the attack on Pearl Harbor. Because of our nation's firm commitment to peace there was much sympathy and concern among Americans for the victims of the aggression. In the early stages of unprincipled aggression abroad there seemed little need to worry about what was developing in other countries, or what our own welfare and eventual security might be. Yet as time went on and situations became more critical we found ourselves the only major world power that was not engaged in warfare. Even when our foreign trade and property were jeopardized and our citizens abroad were endangered we were reluctant to take decisive actions which might possibly embroil us in the worldwide conflict. Even while condemning the aggressor nations the large majority of our people demanded peace and neutrality for themselves.

As pressures mounted our diplomatic policy stood firmly for cooperative observance of law and order by all nations. Yet in most cases we found ourselves impotent in negotiating settlements for the benefit of world peace or our own interests. The unremitting efforts made by our country, as well as the efforts made by the victimized nations, proved that talk, discussion, and negotiation were almost futile. Aggressor nations are no more susceptible to logical argument than outlaws bent on plunder. Both operate by force of arms, and it requires force of arms to restrain them.

The major dilemma confronting the United States was whether to tolerate a wholly unsatisfactory world situation, or to resort to forceful intervention. Neither was acceptable nor really possible, but nevertheless the great prob-


lem of the United States was to determine how to restore peace and lawful practices among nations in a disrupted world without going to war. How to strengthen our diplomatic voice in the world without building a sufficient military force to back up adequately that voice was a real dilemma faced by our government.

A specific dilemma in the case of Japan's policy in China, the Secretary of State noted, was to come to amicable agreement with Japan but not at the expense of China.

A related dilemma was how to make preparations against the possibility of armed conflict when public opinion opposed military expenditures and seemed obsessed with the benefits of neutralism and perhaps by self-righteousness. These and other contradictory factors of our national life and well-being are touched upon in this chapter, as are the steps taken to reconcile opposing considerations.


For a dozen years or more after World War I the United States followed a program of drastic retrenchment in military preparedness. Much of this was quite in order because we had built up a gigantic military machine by the end of World War I, and there were in various stages of completion large naval building programs. The Washington Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armament, signed in 1922 by the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Italy, and France was in this tradition.

But public opinion demanded much greater military curtailment to demonstrate America's support of the worldwide yearning for peace as exemplified by the various peace-keeping treaties of those years. Also, it is interesting to note that in the mid 1930's the Nye Committee of the United States Senate held numerous hearings to show that war was caused in large part by the manufacturers and vendors of armament and military equipment. It was pointed out that drastic reduction in the purchase of such materials would presumably tend toward peace.

Many peace organizations were active during those times in promoting general disarmament. In the absence of any over-all agreement among the world powers there was a strong feeling for "disarmament by example," the theory being that other nations would probably follow the strongest


nation in the world. Professional propagandists were likewise busy. The result was that throughout the 1920's the military forces of the United States were steadily reduced in effectiveness. Very few new ships were authorized, and manning levels in the military services were greatly curtailed. In short, the military services existed on a starvation diet.

However, when the economic depression began after 1929, the nation was fortunate that a portion of the Congressional appropriations for the National Industrial Recovery Act was assigned to a rehabilitation program in ship construction, but not without opposition from well-meaning organizations devoted to the hope of peace through disarmament. Included in this program of ship construction were a number of major vessels. The design and construction of such ships requires four to five years. But some of these became available and were of inestimable value in the early days of World War II. An important national benefit was the reactivation of the famished American shipbuilding trade which thus was available for the gigantic programs of production in the days ahead.

At this time there was no comprehension of the magnitude of the military needs which shortly would be thrust upon us. Of course, there was very little concern that such needs would require several years of lead time for the design, planning, development, and manufacture, or for the training of personnel for operation. The large portion of our population was determined to avoid war at any cost, and they were quite sure that the best way to avoid war was to avoid preparing for war.

Naturally the Congress reflected the viewpoint of public opinion. Although supporting most of the President's recommendations for national defense, in the late 1930's it acted otherwise repeatedly.

For example, in 1938 the House of Representatives barely defeated the proposed Ludlow constitutional amendment which would have required a popular vote as a prerequisite to a declaration of war by the Congress. Except for the strong representations made by the President and the Secretary of State this proposal would probably have been passed.1

Near the end of 1938 Secretary of War Woodring reported that despite improvements made, the United States stood eighteenth in relative strength among the standing armies of the world. In 1939 Congress refused to


1 Peace and War, p. 52. (President Roosevelt wrote to the Speaker of the House on 6 January 1938, and Secretary Hull warned on 8 January 1938 that this proposal would hamstring the Government.)


modify the prohibition against U.S. merchant ships trading with friendly nations under attack, but did allow these countries to buy our war materials on a cash and carry basis.

Although the Congress approved calling up for active duty the Reserves and the National Guard, in August 1940 it was required that they be used only within the Western Hemisphere or in United States territories. As late as August 1940 Congress passed the first peacetime Selective Service and Training Act in our history by a small margin, but with the same restrictions as for the Reserves and National Guard. At about the same time Congress defeated a bill for improving the defenses of Guam, on the basis that the United States should not do anything to provoke or irritate Japan.

So while some progress was made in building up the national defense forces, public opinion was divided as to the advisability of doing anything which had the appearance of warlike measures. Except for the strong leadership and insistence of the President and Secretary of State, backed by U.S. naval and military leaders, our military structure might well have been quite impotent in late 1941 when World War II broke upon us.


In a world beset with ever-increasing international outlawry, the diplomatic workload of a leading world power committed to peace and legal procedures among nations was enormous. The United States exerted every means to impress upon the offending nations the importance of peaceful processes and the avoidance of violence. Secretary of State Cordell Hull was a patient and reasonable man. He continuously emphasized the inviolability of treaties and agreements among the nations if peace and orderly progress were to be maintained. The logic of his arguments was clear to most people. And let it be said that his work during those critical years bears the stamp of excellence in building a framework of definite action which later could be properly taken. Together with President Roosevelt, the State Department took progressive steps toward exposing international outlawry, and in time toward taking specific action to oppose it. We might list a few of the most important steps which were taken. Many of the specific measures taken pertain primarily to problems in the Atlantic, but of course are clearly related to the problems presented by the Japanese in the Pacific. Many


of the steps taken by government officials were for the purpose of informing the American people of the implications of the world conflict, and alerting them to possible involvement if principles of peace and honor were to be preserved.

a. Freedom of trade and commercial activity as guaranteed by treaties and agreements were the subject of frequent notes and discussions. The situation became crucial when freedom of the seas became involved. Ultimately the United States took decisive action by instituting a naval patrol in the Atlantic in 1941.

b. When public opinion seemed willing to overlook violations of American rights in 1938 Secretary Hull warned that our security would be menaced if we abandoned our legitimate principles because of fear or unwillingness. Only by meeting our responsibilities and making our proper contributions to the firm establishment of a world order based on law "can we keep the problem of our own security in true perspective . . . ."2

c. When war broke in Europe in 1939 the United States declared its neutrality and also declared a Limited National Emergency. The embargo on the export of arms under the Neutrality Act was repealed in November 1939 so that some aid could be rendered to Great Britain and France.

d. In order to exert a restraining influence on Japan's warlike policies it was decided that the fleet exercises in May of 1940 would be held in the Hawaiian area. The Fleet remained in Hawaii after the maneuvers. This was a diplomatic decision, which was not concurred by all military leaders.

e. On 19 May 1940, President Roosevelt said, "We are shocked and angered" by the over-running of the Lowlands by the Germans and he said that it is a mistaken idea that the American republics are wholly safe from the impact of the attacks on civilization in other parts of the world.3 A month later, on 20 June 1940, the Secretary of State stated that, because of the imminent fall of France, never before has there been such a powerful challenge to freedom, that we could meet it only by retaining an unshakable faith in the worth of freedom and honor, of truth and justice, of intellectual and spiritual integrity, and by determination to give our all for the preservation of our way of life.4

f. When the Japanese bombed Chinese civilians the United States declared a "Moral Embargo" against Japan. The American government


2 Ibid., p. 55. (Secretary Hull's address in Washington, D.C. on 17 March 1938.)

3 Ibid., p. 73.

4 Ibid., p. 78.


appealed to manufacturers and exporters of aircraft parts and armaments not to send these products where they would be used against civilians.

g. In September 1940 American Ambassador Grew reported that Japan felt that she had a "golden opportunity." Japan, he said, was a predatory power and a fully opportunist nation seeking to profit through the weakness of others. She has been deterred from taking great liberties with interests of the United States because she respected our potential power, and she trampled on our rights in exact ratio to the strength of conviction that the United States public would not permit that power to be developed and used.5

h. Embargoes and sanctions against Japan were frequently considered and carefully evaluated as to risk of provocation. However, in July 1940 the Export Control Act authorized the President in the interest of national defense to prohibit or curtail the export of certain war materials, including scrap metal and oil.

i. In January 1941 President Roosevelt declared in his State of the Union Message to Congress that American security was threatened, that we supported resolute people resisting aggression, and that our own security would "never permit us to acquiesce in a peace dictated by aggressors or sponsored by appeasers."6

j. In March 1941 Congress passed the Lend Lease Act and appropriated seven billion dollars to aid friendly nations. President Roosevelt made a statement that this action ended any compromise with tyranny and the forces of oppression.7

k. On 27 May 1941 the President declared an "Unlimited National Emergency." A major objective was to authorize naval action to prevent the aggressors from gaining control of the seas.8

1. Following attacks on American merchant and naval ships in September and October 1941 President Roosevelt stated: "History has recorded who fired the first shot." We had sought no shooting war with Hitler, but we were not willing to pay for peace by permitting Hitler to attack our ships when they were on legitimate business.9

m. On 21 October 1941 Secretary Hull stated with regard to the Congressional authorization for American merchant vessels to carry cargoes to belligerents that the "paramount principle of national policy is the preserva-


5 Ibid., p. 92.

6 Ibid., p. 95.

7 Ibid., p. 96.

8 Ibid., pp. 101 and 102.

9 Ibid., pp. 110 and 112.


tion of the safety and security of the nation;" and the "highest right flowing from that principle is the right of self-defense."10

n. On 17 August 1941 President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull conferred with Japanese diplomats and delivered a note which contained the statement that the government of the United States "finds it necessary to say to the Government of Japan that if the Japanese Government takes any further steps in pursuance of a policy or program of military domination by force or threat of force of neighboring countries, the Government of the United States will be compelled to take immediately any and all steps which it may deem necessary toward safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the United States and the American nationals and toward insuring the safety and security of the United States."11

o. On 1 December 1941 Secretary Hull stated to Japanese diplomats that the United States would give all the materials Japan requires if the Japanese leaders will show some movement toward peace and discontinue bellicose threats and bluster.12

Thus it is seen that American diplomacy was active throughout the decade preceding Pearl Harbor, in endeavoring to restrain the aggressors on the one hand, and on the other, to educate the American people regarding the issues at stake and the threat to their freedom and security.


As the people became informed of the progress of events in Europe and Japan, and were alerted to the effects on American interests and principles, they gradually assumed stronger views against the three aggressor nations. Yet despite the actions of those nations, the clear mandate of the people was to refrain from war or the appearance of war.

There were wide differences of opinion as to the rightness or wrongness of every nation's actions, including our own. Some of these were based on race, nationality, or personal experience. Others were influenced by paid propaganda outputs in this country. But the great majority of the people were sincere and honest in their desire to avoid warfare if at all possible, and were willing to make concessions and even sacrifices to that end. There


10 Ibid., p. 111.

11 Ibid., pp. 123 and 124.

12 Ibid., p. 139.


Rear Admiral Claude C. Bloch, USN, 1931.

Rear Admiral Claude C. Bloch, USN, Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District on 7 December 1941.


were some who deprecated the mild and patient manner of the State Department over the years, and felt that any nation which violated our legitimate pursuits or hazarded our nationals abroad should be sternly dealt with. Such persons criticized the State Department for writing notes rather than acting forthrightly and forcibly.

The unprovoked bombing of USS Panay and three merchant ships in 1937 by the Japanese hardened the American viewpoint, as did the brutal attacks on missionary hospitals in China, and the terror-bombing of the Chinese people.

There was strong opposition to the exportation of scrap metal and oil to Japan before these items were embargoed in 1940 and 1941 especially when these commodities were in short supply in the United States. Yet Ambassador Grew stated that economic sanctions were more likely to cause war than to avoid it. This was one of the dilemmas which the Administration had to face. The Japanese, he explained, could not be bluffed or forced into submission. They would not "back down" as the Oriental psychology would consider this a "loss of face."

By 1941 the great majority of our people were quite aware of Japan's unprincipled behavior, but still regarded the Japanese people with some sympathy and with considerable admiration for their industriousness, objectiveness, arid national loyalty. But the ever-increasing tempo of Japan's depredations and the belligerent demands of their government changed attitudes of sympathy and admiration into anxiety and antipathy. When Japan took virtually full control of Indo-China in the summer of 1941 and demanded that Thailand grant special concessions, the American people approved our imposition of an oil embargo. Nevertheless public opinion tried hard to take these aggressions in stride, and it remained for the Japanese to solidify public opinion completely by the surprise attack on the American flag at Pearl Harbor.


The American public seemed in large part to be naive regarding the full implications of the European War and the Sino-Japanese War. Our high government officials, however, were quite aware of the threats to American interests and eventual security. It soon became crystal clear that the basic contest was between the forces of predatory authoritarianism and the free


nations of the world. Therefore, regardless of personal attachment to one country or another, the effort and influence of the United States were naturally directed toward restraining the predatory powers and assisting the free nations. This diplomatic position became increasingly active and forceful each year as events became more threatening.

Our endeavors to render material support to the beleaguered free nations required some military protection. As the contest widened, the need for defense indicated the importance of greater military potency. Thus the American stance against world aggression gradually developed from the diplomatic stage to the economic, and finally to the military, culminating in the United States becoming, clearly, if not formally, allied with the free nations against the Axis Powers.

We have already mentioned some of the more significant measures of diplomacy; now we might consider a few of the more important steps taken to render assistance to the friendly nations.

a. American trade with China had been of importance to both countries for many years, and was essential to China in resisting Japan's depredations. From the start of the conflict we furnished assistance to China by shipping important materials to meet economic and military requirements. Such assistance to China was characterized by Japan as "an unfriendly act."

b. The Neutrality Acts of 1935 and 1937 placed a rigid embargo on the export of arms to all belligerents, and thus had an injurious effect on friendly nations which were comparatively deficient in military equipment with which to resist the aggressors. At various times President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull endeavored to persuade Congress to amend the Acts favorably to the victimized nations, but to no avail until November 1939 when the Acts were partially repealed. Although the Congress continued to stand firm for military neutrality, the apathy and complacency of the people were challenged and gradually broken down because of the shockingly predatory events abroad.

c. In June 1940 President Roosevelt reported that the United States would provide surplus material resources to Great Britain and France, and pointed out that this was in our self interest. In justifying this action he stated that we as a nation were concerned that "military and naval victory for the gods of force and hate would endanger the institutions of democracy in the western world," and that our sympathies were with these nations that were giving their lifeblood in combat against these forces.13


13 Ibid., p. 74.


d. In September 1940 the American government agreed with Great Britain to transfer fifty old-type destroyers in exchange for long-term leases of certain bases in the Western Atlantic and Caribbean. These bases would be essential in case of war, which they eventually proved to be.

e. In December 1940 it was plain that the European aggressors intended to dominate all of Europe and ultimately the rest of the world. President Roosevelt proclaimed that the United States would act as the "Arsenal of Democracy," and stated that we must help defend the free world by furnishing needed materials. In January 1941 the President asked Congress to authorize the lending of arms and other assistance to such nations when this was vital to the interests of the United States.

f. Despite the bitter protests of isolationists Congress passed the Lend Lease Act in March 1941 and appropriated seven billion dollars to put it into effect. This Act permitted all direct military aid to Great Britain.

g. By 1941 the loss of British ships to German submarines exceeded the rate of production in the shipyards of both Great Britain and the United States. In order to deliver to Great Britain the material aid required, the United States instituted a naval patrol force to protect British ships in the Western Atlantic.

h. On 30 October 1941 Roosevelt informed Stalin of his decision to grant the Soviet Union up to one billion dollars of Lend Lease Aid to counter Hitler's invasion of Russia.

i. By November 1941 it was clear that the survival of Great Britain was essential to the whole free world, and therefore the United States removed virtually all restrictions on arms shipments to that nation.

j. In spite of continued protests of Japan we had for several years assisted China by furnishing military equipment for shipment over the Burma Road, which by 1941 was the only open route to China as all others had been blockaded by Japan.


The military capabilities of the United States in the early 1930's were small compared to what might be required to match the powerful forces of the Axis. This fact was fully realized by responsible government officials, but public sentiment was quite fixed in opposition to any warlike gestures, including the buildup of armament. Furthermore, the economic depression


affected expenditures for military preparedness. Yet, paradoxically, it was the depression which permitted significant improvement in preparedness. This was because the National Industrial Recovery Act provided funds for industrial activity which would give jobs to the unemployed. President Roosevelt knew that the building of armaments, particularly ships, made jobs in nearly every phase of industry, and therefore in 1934 he exercised the authority granted by Congress and ordered the construction of thirty-two naval vessels. This was the first significant step in preparing for the needs of World War II, and hindsight proves that it was a fortunate and indispensable step.

Other steps were taken as the grim events abroad pressed on the national consciousness and brought a change in the public attitude toward military preparedness. Some of the more important were the following:

a. In 1934 the Vinson-Trammel Naval Bill authorized the navy to build up to treaty limitations. This did not provide funds for construction but indicated Congressional opinion as to the need for correcting our naval deficiencies.

b. In 1937 President Roosevelt announced that the Navy was proceeding with the construction of two new battleships, the first since the 1922 treaty. These were Washington and North Carolina which rendered valiant service in World War II. The Army also received new equipment, and an increase in officers and men from 118,000 to a new limit of 158,000.

c. In his January 1938 message to Congress the President recommended increasing our defenses to insure reasonable security against worldwide pressures and assaults. Congress authorized a twenty percent increase in ships for the Navy and appropriated for two new battleships and two aircraft carriers. Debate in Congress showed that much doubt existed on the need for these increases, and some isolationist groups suspected that the real purpose was to aid Great Britain. Secretary Hull replied that neither extreme internationalism or extreme isolationism was desired, but that inaction meant aiding the lawless nations.14

d. Again, in his January 1939 message to Congress, the President recommended further strengthening of the national defense, especially in air power, and the mobilization of industry for quantity production.

e. When France sued for an armistice with Germany in June 1940 the United States insisted that the French fleet should not be surrendered to Germany, and received assurances accordingly.


14 Ibid., p. 53-59.


f. Just before the surrender of France in June 1940 President Roosevelt asked Congress for authority to build 50,000 military airplanes, and stated to Congress that nations unable to defend themselves were easily subjugated. Old defense systems, he pointed out, were inadequate if American liberties and principles were to be maintained.15

g. Following the fall of France the President requested Congress to appropriate five billion dollars for further increases in defense. This was granted on 27 August 1940. At the same time Congress authorized calling up the Reserves and National Guard for active duty. In July 1940, forty-five additional warships were ordered for the Navy Department.

h. In the summer of 1940 the President recommended to Congress the authorization for a "Two Ocean Navy," which was approved.

i. The first peacetime Selective Service and Training Act in United States history was passed in September 1940, and in August 1941, when the international situation was very foreboding, Congress extended the period of service to one and one-half years. But this was done by only a one vote margin in the House of Representatives.

In keeping with Congressional authorizations and appropriations for the building up of national defense, many important steps were taken in 1940 and 1941 to improve American power on land, sea, and air. For instance, there were ordered or authorized for the Navy in 1940: 

6 Iowa class battleships of 45,000 tons

5 Montana class battleships of 56,000 tons (None of the ships were ever finished.)

6 battle cruisers of about 27,000 tons (None were completed.)

11 aircraft carriers of 27,000 tons

40 cruisers

115 destroyers

67 submarines

Many auxiliaries and small craft

With the exception of the larger battleships and the battle cruisers most of these vessels were expedited following the Pearl Harbor attack, and together with other ships which were ordered later, formed the irresistible force which vanquished the Japanese Navy.


15 Ibid., p. 79.




Chapter IV
The Fleet at Pearl Harbor




a. It was restricted in area and had only one access to the open sea. Due to limited area it was necessary for ships to be clustered rather than dispersed.

b. It was far removed from the source of essential supplies, such as oil, food, mechanical materials, technical installations, and industrial capacity.

c. Transportation from the West Coast was slow and inadequate.

d. Essential services for regular fleet activities and exercises were in short supply. These included tugs, target practice facilities, and a host of other things required by ships of the fleet.

e. Hawaii lacked adequate housing and recreational facilities for military personnel.

f. The great majority of fleet personnel were separated from their families and friends over long periods of time. This was an unsuitable morale situation in peacetime.

g. The defenses of Pearl Harbor were almost non-existent. This was an Army responsibility, but the Army lacked the wherewithal to provide much defense, especially in anti-aircraft batteries and pursuit aircraft.

For these reasons, and others, the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Fleet protested strenuously and repeatedly the decision to base the fleet at Pearl Harbor instead of Southern California. He doubted that the presence of the fleet at Pearl Harbor was a deterrent to the Japanese, and pointed out


Pearl Harbor Navy Yard

Ships docked at Ten-Ten Dock.

that it might have the opposite effect. The final result was that he, Admiral Joseph O. Richardson, was relieved of command on 1 February 1941 and was succeeded by Admiral Husband E. Kimmel. At that time the fleet became the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and the separate Atlantic Fleet was established. It might be well to mention here that Admiral Richardson felt that the fleet was not prepared for war and was seriously lacking in logistic support, especially oil tankers.


Despite the inadequacies at Pearl Harbor it is correct to say that during the year or so before the Japanese attack many of the handicaps were partially overcome through persistent and hard work. In retrospect, it appears that even though Pearl Harbor was in many ways an unsatisfactory fleet base, the fact that the Fleet was there prevented the Japanese from initially occupying Hawaii and Midway, thereby using them later as bases to intercept our naval forces. Our Fleet in that case would have had to operate from the West Coast during at least the early part of World War II. Most importantly, after the war started Pearl Harbor became the largest and most efficient naval base in world history. Its value as a springboard for mounting our unparalleled offensive actions against the Japanese was incalculable.


As has been indicated, the military defenses of Pearl Harbor were quite meager. The development of a great military base takes years of planning, coordination, copious funds, and continual construction, installation, and support. Such development required close coordination of the various military services. This, of course, can be quite difficult in the face of separate evaluations both in Washington and on the scene. However, it is noteworthy that, contrary to views expressed by much of the news media after the Japanese attack, there was a high degree of cooperation and coordination between the Army and the Navy in the years prior to the Pearl Harbor episode. This was a friendly and hard working joint effort. Here are some of the results of that effort: 

a. Hawaii was defended by Army forces including heavy and light artillery, infantry, and air force. The Air Corps was part of the Army at that time.

b. The Army Air Corps operated largely from the three fields at Hickam, Bellows, and Wheeler. The first two were principally bomber fields, while Wheeler operated pursuit planes. All fields were in process of development and were training personnel to operate planes on a combat basis. Hickam Field was busy receiving new B-17's from the West Coast, outfitting and commissioning them, and flying them to bolster the defenses of Wake Island and the Philippines. It is estimated that only about ninety-four Army Air Force planes were ready for combat by 7 December. Many of the planes were under overhaul or having new equipment installed.


c. The Army had 26 fixed three-inch anti-aircraft guns and 60 mobile three-inch guns. None of the latter were emplaced as the assigned locations for wartime emplacements were on private property. Also 140 thirty-seven millimeter guns were assigned, but only 20 were delivered, and these were without ammunition. A large number of 50 caliber machine guns were on order but only 40 percent had been delivered.

d. The Navy and Marine Corps had three airfields: Ford Island in the center of Pearl Harbor, the Marine Corps fighter field at nearby Ewa, and the seaplane field at Kaneohe. The Ford Island field served primarily to receive aircraft carrier planes and to operate them while the carriers were in port. Like the Army airfields, the Navy was busy training men, installing improvements and new equipment, and overhauling worn-out parts. The total number of Navy and Marine Corps planes ready for combat was approximately fifty-two.

e. All of these forces were busy every weekday in flight operations, target practice, and training. Citizens of Hawaii were accustomed to hearing planes overhead continuously every day except Sunday. Gunfire incidental to target practice was commonplace.

f. Ships of the active Fleet when in Pearl Harbor were assigned certain sections of arc to defend against possible air attacks. Standing orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet required that one-quarter of the anti-aircraft batteries be in a ready state at all times, that gun crews be near at hand, and a supply of ammunition be in ready service boxes near the guns.

g. To defend against prowling submarines the channel entrance to Pearl Harbor was guarded by a double submarine net or gate. It was kept closed at night; it was opened and closed as required by traffic of ships entering or leaving. Patrol vessels were always on duty in the approaches to Pearl Harbor to detect any submarines which might be attempting to enter.


The need for air reconnaissance was clearly understood by the high command at Pearl Harbor, and strenuous steps were taken to make it effective. As early as January 1941 Rear Admiral P. N. L. Bellinger, Commander of Patrol Wing TWO of the Fleet, and also in command of the Ford Island facilities, reported to the Navy Department that because of deficiencies in


planes, equipment, material, personnel, and facilities "we are operating on a shoestring," and that all efforts to improve the situation had not been effective.1

Similar correspondence ensued later with but little results. The usual answer from Washington was that "we are doing the best we can."

The Army Air Corps and the Navy Patrol Force cooperated closely in developing a joint operation to insure the best possible reconnaissance with the means then available. Admiral Bellinger, together with Major General F. L. Martin of the Army Air Corps, got out a joint estimate of the situation under date of 31 March 1941 which set up a search and attack group to be used in case of hostilities or in time of emergency. In this document the following statement was made: "The aircraft at present available in Hawaii are inadequate to maintain, for an extended period, from bases on OAHU, a patrol extensive enough to insure that an air attack from an Orange [enemy] carrier cannot arrive over OAHU as a complete surprise." Thus the possibility of surprise air attack was envisioned long before the attack, and plans were developed to detect and defeat such an attack. A surprise attack without a declaration of war or of hostilities was envisioned at an early date, but the words "surprise attack" usually referred to a carrier raid after a proper declaration. Such a raid was in the minds of fleet officers, but as in Washington eyes were turned to Southeast Asia.

The shortage of planes and personnel to carry out a continuous daylight patrol was startling, especially when the need to modify and overhaul these planes is considered. It was estimated that one effective patrol through 360 degrees at a distance of 800 miles required not less than 84 planes on a 16 hour flight. To do this continually with necessary reliefs in planes and personnel would require at least 180 reconnaissance planes. Of course no such number of planes was available, nor was the manpower required to operate them.

With the air forces available, however, a considerable amount of air reconnaissance was conducted by both the Army and the Navy, at times as a joint operation. When aircraft carrier task forces of the Fleet were at sea there were simulated air strikes on Pearl Harbor to improve air reconnaissance and air raid defense. The last such drill was held on 12 November 1941; the next was scheduled for 29 November 1941 but had to be postponed until 13 December because of a task force sortie. As early as the spring of 1941 joint air raid drills were held weekly for a time to familiarize


1 Commander Patrol Wing TWO letter of 16 January 1941 to the Chief of Naval Operations.


personnel with requirements, but the frequency was gradually reduced because of interference with training as well as wear and tear on equipment. Communications of that time were not equal to the tasks put upon them. This was especially true of the communications with the Army and with outlying stations. Anti-submarine search by both aircraft and destroyers was a regular part of fleet movements. Carrier reconnaissance planes ranged out over wide areas of ocean whenever task forces were leaving or entering Pearl Harbor.

On the morning of 7 December there were a number of reconnaissance planes aloft, and others were in a standby ready status.

a. Three patrol planes were searching the fleet operating areas, and three others standing by on a thirty minute notice.

b. Four other planes from Ford Island were in the air operating with submarines in joint exercises.

c. At Midway five planes were on reconnaissance to a distance of 450 miles, two others were enroute to rendezvous with the USS Lexington task force 400 miles to the southeast. Four additional planes were on ready alert.

d. Three Marine Scout bombers at Ewa Field were on two hours notice, and fifteen bombers and fifteen utility planes on four hours notice.

e. Some forty Army planes could be called upon for reconnaissance duty by Patrol Wing TWO in emergency but were never called except in connection with air raid drills.

f. In addition, the three task forces at sea were conducting a regular wartime search by aircraft and destroyers, as required by fleet orders.

The advisability of continuous and complete air reconnaissance was always in mind, but this presented a dilemma of the utmost difficulty. First there were insufficient planes and personnel; next was the intensive schedules, for training, instruction, maintenance, and improvement. The same principle applied to other elements of our military forces. In the fleet the workday was long and intensive, and reasonable consideration had to be given toward preventing staleness and poor morale among the limited manpower available.

In the days just prior to 7 December we were at peace, although peace was overhung by ominous clouds. The various military forces were preparing for probable hostilities, and it was imprudent to divert our efforts unduly in directions which would wear out planes and pilots in advance of actual needs. When Admiral Richardson was still the Fleet Commander, he took up the question of justification for continuous long range reconnaissance.


Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

Ships moored in East Loch, looking northwest.

He addressed the Navy Department as follows under date of 28 November 1940: "I feel that the Fleet must operate on either of two assumptions, that is that we are at peace and no security measures are required; or, that wartime measures of security must be carried out. Heretofore, we have carried out limited security measures largely as a basis for training and on


the assumption that no foreign power would choose to bring on a war by an attack on the Fleet, but that some misdirected or fanatical nationals might undertake individual and irresponsible attack on Fleet units."2

This was answered by the Navy Department under the date of 23 December 1940 as follows: "There will be an advantage in making occasional sweeps by aircraft and surface craft but it is not yet necessary to make these continuous. I agree with you that the wear and tear on equipment, and the detrimental effects on training, of full security measures should be given due weight."3

With these points in mind, and others too, it was a command decision based on calculated risks that reconnaissance as well as other defense matters should be on a moderate scale in peacetime. Thus there was a minimum of air reconnaissance on Sunday, 7 December. Of course the Japanese were fully aware that Sunday was a day of rest and relaxation among the defense forces at Hawaii, and they also knew no doubt that Americans accepted in good faith the Japanese legal commitment not to attack without an ultimatum or declaration of war. On top of this was the general feeling that the Japanese would not be so irrational as to make their initial attack on the stronghold of the Pacific.


The importance of radar for distant reconnaissance was recognized by the late 1930's. Scientists, engineers, and manufacturers were engaged in important programs of development. Military officials were expediting the purchase and installation of radar equipment to the extent that funds and qualified personnel would permit. The installations in Hawaii at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack were new and quite experimental. There were few military personnel who were trained to operate a radar installation in a reliable manner.

The Navy was installing production sets as fast as they could be obtained and made reliable; but in December 1941, only about a half-dozen ships of the Pacific Fleet had radar installed. The Army was then in the process of installing three large fixed radars on high ground in Hawaii,


2 Hearings before the joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Part 14, p. 975. Hereafter cited as Hearings.

3 Ibid., p. 980.


and six mobile radars on trucks. The effective distance for detection would depend of course upon the height of the installation and the height or elevation of the target. Thus a large ship could be detected by another ship with the radar at a distance of about twenty miles, while an airplane at 10,000 feet could be detected by a fixed land radar at a distance up to 200 miles.

Arrangements had been made between the Army and Navy for joint utilization of radar installations. Since the Navy had more experience in the use of radar, it was agreed that Army personnel would go to sea on four or more of the Navy ships for training and practice in radar operation. This was done in June 1941.

The Army radars were installed by the Corps of Engineers and operated by the Signal Corps. A system was worked out whereby radar information could be forwarded to an "Aircraft Warning Service" for evaluation and action. This came under the Army Air Corps which passed the information to the "Interceptor Command" when defense action was indicated. This system of air raid defense was not fully operative by 7 December although some drills had been held. As will be observed, this was an all-Army set-up since Navy radars were secured in port because of their low elevation on the ships and the interference from the high surrounding land masses and buildings. However, some from the Navy were assigned on an unofficial basis to assist the Army's evaluation system.

The Army radar service was operative every day except Sunday from 0400 to 1600 hours, but on Sunday it was manned from 0400 to 0700 hours. General Short considered these hours the most dangerous time for an air attack. Except for the large installation where one enlisted man had volunteered to continue because of his interest and desire for experience, no radar was operating on the morning of 7 December. This turned out to be a well publicized circumstance, because this man detected on the radar screen a large flight of aircraft bearing north at a distance of about 130 miles.

He was perplexed by what he detected, but reported it by telephone to a Lieutenant on duty at the "Aircraft Warning Service." The Lieutenant discounted the information as not being of much moment for several reasons:

a. They could be planes from our two U.S. aircraft carriers which he knew were at sea.

b. They could be planes out of Hickam Field.

c. They could be the twelve B-17's arriving from the West Coast for


transfer to the Philippine Islands. Actually these planes did arrive shortly thereafter and were badly shot up by the Japanese.

d. At that time there was no proper identification system to determine whether planes on the screen were friend or foe, so there was no sure method by which the planes could be identified as other than American.

The important fact of course was that the planes were the Japanese raiding force which arrived an hour later. If the radar information had been fully utilized it is likely that Pearl Harbor and all airfields would have been fully alerted. If our forces had been ready, what would the results have been? No doubt a much greater number of Japanese planes would have been destroyed, and possibly some of their ships damaged or sunk. But our own losses would not have been materially lessened, and the general outcome might well have been about the same. This interesting viewpoint will be covered in later pages.


During the eighteen months following the basing of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor great progress was made in training the sea forces for possible hostilities and in improving the facilities of the new base of operations. There were generous appropriations for new ships, equipment, manpower, and for shore installations. The results were beginning to show, but there is always a great time lag between authorizing such things and their integration into the operating forces.

New ships and planes were being delivered but the bulk of these were assigned to the Atlantic where actual war conditions existed and prospect: were extremely grave. The new units required trained men, and therefore training had topmost priority. It became the duty of the Pacific Fleet to do a vast amount of on-the-job training of men to be transferred back to the mainland for later assignment by the Navy Department. Many of these, especially officers, were reserves called to active duty. It is worthy to note here that these reserves became a major part of the fleet and fought with great distinction in World War II.

A large proportion of the new air strength was diverted to the Philippines, Midway, and Wake. It was the policy to strengthen these islands. Such a policy originated in Washington, and was part of the war plan which would be followed in case of hostilities with Japan.


In shoreside activities great improvements were made to the shop facilities at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. A large new drydock, additional oil stowages, and general expansion of repair capacity were also included. Without these, the wartime performance of the Navy Yard in supporting a greatly enlarged fleet would have been impossible.

In the summer of 1941 the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard was entirely competent to handle a limited number of overhauls of all but the largest ships. The Yard was gradually built up in officers and civilian manpower so that it could do a very creditable job within the limits of its capacity. Although major overhauls of ships such as battleships and aircraft carriers were performed at the West Coast Navy Yards, the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard was able to handle many important items of work on all ships including the installation and testing out of new improvements such as radar, anti-aircraft guns, fire control gear, radios, and so forth. The regular overhauls about once every eighteen months for battleships, aircraft carriers, and most cruisers and submarines were handled at the West Coast Navy Yards. The ships were rotated in the fleet schedules so that a minimum was absent at any one time. The arrangement insured a program of maintenance and improvement, and at the same time gave the ship crews an opportunity to visit the mainland for several months and to be with their families and friends.

The active units of the fleet operated on a strenuous schedule of training. They were engaged in sea maneuvers about 60 percent of the time and were in port at Pearl Harbor the other 40 percent. The submarines based at Pearl Harbor operated on a special schedule, while all other ships were divided into three separate task forces which overlapped each other in their scheduled time at sea and in port. While at sea, major units of the fleet were screened by aircraft and destroyers to be sure that enemy submarines were not in the operating areas. It was assumed that the operating areas were infested with Japanese submarines, and that a surprise attack would be by submarines against major units of the fleet.


Among most Americans, and even most military personnel, Pearl Harbor was believed to be a mighty bastion of defense. Together with the power of the Pacific Fleet, Hawaii was considered by the public to be impregnable.


The fleet itself was assumed to be invincible as compared to that of any prospective enemy. Even some of the high ranking personnel of the State Department had faith in the supposition that if hostilities occurred, the sea forces of Japan could be vanquished in a few weeks. But as we well know that viewpoint was quite mythical.

Just prior to the Japanese attack the Pacific Fleet had a total of 159 vessels assigned, including some smaller craft such as mine layers, mine sweepers, and patrol vessels. This compared to 224 such vessels assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. If we exclude the smaller vessels, the Pacific Fleet had 111 ships and the Atlantic Fleet 188. The Pacific Fleet had nine of the fifteen battleships and most of the modern submarines, but the Atlantic Fleet excelled in other types. At the time of sending the United States Fleet to base in Hawaii, that fleet was relatively stronger than the fleet based in the Atlantic, but events in Europe and the Atlantic forced Washington to transfer some of the ships from the Pacific where peace still prevailed. In May 1941 the following were detached from the Pacific and sent to the Atlantic for duty:4

3 battleships
1 aircraft carrier
4 cruisers
9 destroyers

To show Washington's concern over the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, it was proposed in the summer of 1941 that a like force from the Pacific be transferred to the Atlantic, but this proposal was dropped. These transfers indicate that the Atlantic was deemed to be the scene of needed strength.

The three major task forces comprising the Fleet were organized as follows:5

Task Force I, Vice Admiral W. S. Pye, Commander Battle Force, in USS California

6 battleships
1 aircraft carrier


4 Report of the joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, and Additional Views of Mr. Keefe Together with Minority Views of Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Brewster, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1946, p. 167. Hereafter cited as Report of the joint Committee.

5 Hearings, Part 17, p. 2535.


5 light cruisers
18 destroyers
5 mine vessels

Task Force II, Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Commander Aircraft Battle Force, in USS Enterprise

3 battleships
1 aircraft carrier
4 heavy cruisers
18 destroyers
4 mine vessels

Task Force III, Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, Commander Scouting Force, in USS Indianapolis

1 aircraft carrier
8 heavy cruisers
9 destroyers
13 mine vessels
6 attack transports

At least one of these three task forces was always at sea. Usually two of them were at sea for overlapping periods during tactical operations.

In addition the submarines were organized as a task force for independent operations to provide an efficient Submarine Observation and Attack Force and to conduct patrols as ordered by the Fleet Commander. The operating schedule called for about thirty submarines and their supporting vessels.

The above gives a good approximation of the strength of the Pacific Fleet. However, all the ships were not in Pearl Harbor or not in full operating status. Some were at West Coast Navy Yards for regular overhaul, some at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard for required material improvement work, and many were operating at sea.

While the strength of the fleet seemed quite formidable, it was realized by "those in the know" that the Japanese fleet was considerably stronger. Definite information, of course, was unavailable, but it was known that Japan had been busy building and training for at least a half-dozen years. The extent of their superiority was demonstrated in the early days of the war, especially in the category of aircraft carriers and aircraft carrier planes.



Contrary to popular belief, many ships of the fleet were not present at Pearl Harbor on 7 December. A rough estimate would show that about one-half of the total force was absent. Fortunately all three of the aircraft carriers assigned to the fleet were elsewhere, but eight of the nine battleships assigned were present and took the brunt of the attack.

Several of the ships were absent in connection with Navy Yard overhauls on the West Coast. But others were on special missions, such as:

a. A special task force under Vice Admiral Halsey in Enterprise was about 200 miles west of Hawaii enroute to Pearl Harbor after having delivered Marine Corps fighter planes to beef up the defense of Wake Island.. This task force consisted of 1 aircraft carrier, 3 heavy cruisers, and 9 destroyers.

b. Another special task force under Rear Admiral J. H. Newton with Lexington was about 400 miles southeast of Midway enroute to that island to deliver Marine Corps scout bombers. This force consisted of 1 aircraft carrier, 3 heavier cruisers, and 5 destroyers.

c. A special task force under Vice Admiral Wilson Brown consisting of 1 heavy cruiser and 5 destroyers together with minesweepers was off Johnston Island to test a new type of landing craft.

d. Two heavy cruisers were on convoy duty in the Samoa and Solomons areas in connection with protection of shipping to Australia.

e. One heavy cruiser and four destroyer minesweepers were about twenty-five miles south of Oahu conducting special exercises.

f. Two submarines were in the Midway area, and two others in the Wake Island area.

g. Other ships, such as oil tankers were enroute to Hawaii from the West Coast.

All of these ships at sea were in a status of wartime alert, fully armed, and ready for any emergency. Their absence from Pearl Harbor left the following ships present:

8 battleships
2 heavy cruisers
4 10,000 ton cruisers
2 7,000 ton cruisers
30 destroyers
4 submarines


Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal, page 55.

Ship locations, 7 December 1941.


1 gunboat
9 minelayers
14 minesweepers
27 auxiliaries such as repair ships, tenders, store ships, and tugs.

All of the vessels at Pearl Harbor, except those undergoing overhaul at the Navy Yard, were, in accordance with fleet orders, in readiness condition three, which required about one-quarter of the anti-aircraft batteries and their control stations to be in a ready status with gun crews and ammunition at hand. All fleet vessels had ready for use their full supply of ammunition plus a reserve supply. Also, these vessels were required to be on twelve hours notice for getting underway. Actually, however, none of the ships required twelve hours steaming notice to get underway, as will shortly be seen; the requirement for twelve hours was for a fleet sortie.


Imminence of War




Imminence of War


The numerous diplomatic discussions in Washington, and the many exchanges of diplomatic notes and proposals were not fruitful in lessening the gap between Japan's adamant demands and America's vigorous opposition. Analysts of the facts could readily see that the two countries were on a collision course which could only result in hostilities. However, the American public was far from convinced that the actual situation could be so extreme, and continued to put great faith in the negotiations which had been going on in Washington for eight or nine months. Whether or not these diplomatic efforts were bona fide on the part of Japan might now be doubted. Unquestionably the United States could have delayed the conflict for a time by agreeing to the various demands of the Japanese. These demands were so extreme that Japan did not expect full agreement, but nevertheless pursued the policy of diplomatic exchanges until the last. Even the attacking force had instructions to withhold the attack in case the diplomats came to an agreement.

It is fair to say that the great majority of the people, even in the military services, did not visualize a direct attack by Japan. Rather it was taken for granted that Japan would move toward the south which was rich in oil and other resources. There were some who felt that Japan would take the Russian maritime provinces to the northward. This was especially so since this region was greatly desired by the Japanese Army, but Russia was still unconquered by Germany and Japan did not want that nation to be counted as an enemy at that time.

However, the policies and actions of Japan were dominated by the extreme militarists headed by Premier General Tojo. Their estimate of the situation was so favorable that they were determined that now there had been presented to them a "golden opportunity" to strike and accomplish their purposes. Their treaty of alliance with Germany and Italy gave them full confidence because at that time the Axis Powers were eminently success-


ful. France had fallen, Great Britain was wobbling, Hitler's army was near the gates of Moscow, Rommel's German army was overrunning Egypt, the Near East was threatened, and the United States stood alone in remonstration without any formal allies.


The information received from the Japanese after the war shows that their methodical observations and espionage kept them well informed of everything concerning the defenses of Hawaii and the activities of the Pacific Fleet. In our open democratic society Japanese agents were free to observe fleet practices, take photographs with their high-powered equipment, and to solicit almost any information desired. Any person could roam the hills around Pearl Harbor or other areas of Hawaii and witness the comings and goings of each and every ship, exactly where they were moored while in port, and what their schedules seemed to be. Also, such persons could readily obtain specific information on the air fields and various defense measures such as anti-aircraft guns, torpedo nets around ships, and barrage balloons. High-powered binoculars were hardly necessary, but they showed particular details which in large measure were unknown even to any single officer of the fleet. In fact, one of the espionage officers in the Japanese Consulate has admitted that he rented a plane at a commercial airport of Honolulu and regularly flew over Hawaii's military air bases. He also stated that he watched fleet sorties from Mount Tantalus or from Aiea.

Testimony before the Roberts Commission and the Congressional Investigation showed that the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu was headquarters for an espionage ring. There, was at least one German spy. At that time there were about 37,000 Japanese aliens in Hawaii and some 117,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry.

The Consulate's spy ring was unbelievably effective. Tokyo asked for and received regular reports from the Consulate at Honolulu and from other Pacific ports regarding the movements of ships, their specific location in port, air reconnaissance, defense measures, troop movements, and other matters. As 7 December drew near, such reports were requested by Tokyo at shorter intervals, and they were furnished as requested. The exchanges were numerous and intensely interesting. Here are excerpts from a few


typical examples. These may be seen in their entirety in Part 12 of the Congressional Investigation of Pearl Harbor.

From Honolulu to Tokyo 16 January 1941:

* * * * *

2. The number of vessels seen in the harbor on the morning of the 16th was as follows: five battleships . . . five light cruisers . . . nineteen destroyers, two destroyer tenders . . . about six small submarines . . . and three transports.
The Yorktown is not in port.
The CinCUS shifted the flag from the New Mexico to the Pennsylvania on 15 January. [Trans. 1/31/41]

From Honolulu to Tokyo 21 February 1941:

1. The capital ships and others departed from Pearl Harbor on the 13th and returned on the 19th. (It is said that they will depart again on the coming Wednesday and return on the following Wednesday). Judging from the statements by various sailors who were on these vessels, the training was apparently held in the vicinities of Kauai, Lahaina and Hilo. [Trans. 2/28/41]

* * * * *

From Tokyo to Honolulu 21 September 1941:

Henceforth, we would like to have you make reports concerning vessels along the following lines insofar as possible: [The message divides Pearl Harbor waters into a number of areas which are delineated.]
2. With regard to war ships and aircraft carriers, we would like to have you report on those at anchor . . . tied up at wharves, buoys and in docks. (Designate types and classes briefly. If possible we would like to have you make mention of the fact when there are two or more vessels alongside the same wharf.) [Trans. 10/9/41)

From Tokyo to Honolulu 15 November 1941:

As relations between Japan and the United States are most critical, make your 'ships in harbor report' irregular, but at a rate of twice a week. Although you already are no doubt aware, please take extra care to maintain secrecy. [Trans. 12/3/41]

From Tokyo to Honolulu 29 November 1941:

We have been receiving reports from you on ship movements, but in future will you also report even when there are no movements. [Trans. 12/5/41]


From Tokyo to Honolulu 2 December 1941:

In view of the present situation, the presence in port of warships, airplane carriers, and cruisers is of utmost importance. Hereafter, to the utmost of your ability, let me know day by day. Wire me in each case whether or not there are any observation balloons above Pearl Harbor or if there are any indications that they will be sent up. Also advise me whether or not the warships are provided with anti-mine nets. [Trans. 12/30/41]

From Honolulu to Tokyo 4 December 1941:

On the afternoon of the 3rd one British gunboat entered Honolulu harbor. She left port early on the morning of the 4th ....
Furthermore, immediately after the vessel entered port a sailor took some mail to the British Consular Office and received some mail in return. [Trans. 12/12/41]

From Honolulu to Tokyo 5 December 1941:

1. During Friday morning, the 5th, the three battleships mentioned in my message {previously) arrived here. They had been at sea for eight days.
2. The Lexington and five heavy cruisers left port on the same day.
3. The following ships were in port on the afternoon of the 5th: 8 battleships, 3 light cruisers, 16 destroyers. [Trans. 12/10/41]

* * * * *

From Tokyo to Honolulu 6 December 1941:

Please wire immediately . . . the movements of the fleet subsequent to the fourth. [Trans. 12/12/41]

From Honolulu to Tokyo 6 December 1941:

1. On the American Continent in October the Army began training barrage balloon troops at Camp Davis, North Carolina. Not only have they ordered four or five hundred balloons, but it is understood that they are considering the use of these balloons in the defense of Hawaii and Panama. In so far as Hawaii is concerned, though investigations have been made in the neighborhood of Pearl Harbor, they have not set up mooring equipment, nor have they selected the troops to man them. Furthermore, there is no indication that any training for the maintenance of balloons is being undertaken. At the present time there are no signs of barrage balloon equipment. In addition, it is difficult to imagine that they have actually any. However, even though they have actually made preparations, because they must control the air over the water and land runways of the airports in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor, Hickham, Ford and Ewa, there are limits to the balloon defense of Pearl Harbor. I imagine that in all probability there is consider-


able opportunity left to take advantage for a surprise attack against these places.
2. In my opinion the battleships do not have torpedo nets . . . . [Trans. 12/8/41]

From Honolulu to Tokyo 6 December 1941:

. . . The following ships were observed at anchor on the 6th:
9 battleships, 3 light cruisers, 3 submarine tenders, 17 destroyers, and in addition there were 4 light cruisers, 2 destroyers lying at docks (the heavy cruisers and airplane carriers have all left).
2. It appears that no air reconnaissance is being conducted by the fleet air arm. [Trans. 12/8/41]

The diplomatic codes used by the Japanese in the exchange of communications regarding Pearl Harbor and the fleet became known to us, but at the time of the attack most of their military codes were still secure. Actually they used a number of different codes and changed them occasionally. Also, they devised a system to report movements of fleet ships by the display of lights at night. The lights would be at certain land areas in Hawaii, and these could be observed by Japanese submarines on surveillance patrol off shore. The exact time of display and the number of lights shown would identify the type and number of large vessels which had departed, or were about to depart, from Pearl Harbor.

Another method was to include in regular news broadcasts certain information regarding the breaking off of diplomatic relations. This was known as the "hidden word" method. The intended message was clear when the key was understood and applied.

Tokyo sent out to their embassies throughout the world the key to a weather report message to give advance information to its agents of the impending termination of diplomatic relations with particular countries. This was done by adding a "ringer" in the weather report, and repeating it three or more times. Thus "east wind rain" referred to the United States-Japan relations; "west wind clear" to the British; and "north wind cloudy" to the Russians.

Clearly, the Japanese informational system gave specific knowledge on the American structure of defense. The Pacific Fleet situation prior to the attack was almost an open book to Japan. Their complete information permitted them to provide each attacking plane with a specified target and its exact location in the harbor. Sketches on official Navy charts were


Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, USN, Chief of Naval Operations and Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet

Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, USN. He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the United States Fleet on 20 December 1941 and assumed command on 30 December 1941


recovered from Japanese airplanes and midget submarines which were shot down or captured during the attack.


Most Americans have traditionally frowned upon espionage and spying as sources of information pertinent to our security and military defense. Consequently we had but little knowledge comparable to the knowledge Japan had regarding Pearl Harbor and our defenses. The United States' representatives in Japan were greatly restricted in obtaining definite information, as indeed were all foreigners, in the totalitarian atmosphere which prevailed there. Rumors were rife and there was plenty of evidence that Japan was intent on a great program of expansion of military capabilities. Yet we lacked details on how much had been accomplished in augmenting their naval and air power, and the training of operating personnel. We were yet to learn, to our sorrow, how extensive their preparations had been and how proficiently their manpower had been developed and trained.

It was still an American tendency, and indeed a world-wide one, to underrate the Japanese. For instance, we rated them as excellent copyists, but lacking in originality; we smirked at the stories of some of their ships having capsized at launching; some accepted the myth that because of their eye structure the Japanese could never be good combat aviators. Events soon proved that such ignorance of a prospective enemy might be termed the "valor of ignorance" because our misconceptions produced a false sense of security, a feeling of over-confidence, and a presumed inherent superiority.

From many sources, however, we knew beyond question that Japan would strike when the circumstances suited her, but nobody knew when, where, or how. Her plans and the execution of them were closely guarded secrets which were known to only a few within the Japanese government or among her military strategists.

As has been seen, there had been rumors of an attack on Pearl Harbor. But there were also rumors on many other targets and it seemed far-fetched and foolhardy to attack Hawaii, especially without a suitable declaration. Why would Japan attack such a concentration of American power nearly 3,500 miles away while its real objectives in the Far East were near at hand and almost defenseless?


In addition to Southeast Asia and the Dutch East Indies, Japan coveted the maritime provinces of Russia bordering on the Pacific. This fact was widely recognized, and now with Hitler's army near to Moscow, that move seemed quite logical to military analysts, especially as it was known that the Japanese Army was particularly anxious to occupy those areas. And after all, the Army was running the government, which was headed now by General Tojo.

The imminence of hostile action pointed to attacks in the Western Pacific area. There seemed to be little probability that the initial attack could be against Pearl Harbor. This was the current estimate of the situation among American officials. There was no person "in the know" who had forecast an attack on Pearl Harbor. The secret knowledge in possession of the United States in Washington at the time supported the generally-held viewpoint that Japan's first move would be in the Western Pacific.

For over a year many of the Army and Navy radio stations had been able to intercept, and certain ones to decode, most of the Japanese secret diplomatic messages. This was indeed an accomplishment of the highest value. It gave our government the basic information concerning Japanese conversations with Germany and Italy, and even Tokyo's instruction to its diplomats in Washington. Such information was referred to as "magic," and pertained specifically to the diplomatic code which was designated as "purple." Credit for the remarkable achievement of breaking this code goes to both Navy and Army personnel, and was carried to the point of actually being able to manufacture machines for coding and decoding "purple" messages.

The diplomatic messages did not contain specific warning of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Even the Japanese diplomats in Washington were kept entirely uninformed of that military project. They were purposely kept from military secrets so that they would continue their diplomatic efforts without giving an inkling of what the military had in mind.

At that time we had not completely broken the Japanese military codes. Even if they had been in our possession at the time of Pearl Harbor it would not have been of great assistance because the attack was handled in strict secrecy with complete radio silence. Inasmuch as the objectives of Japan with reference to their program in Asia, as well as their relationships to Germany and Italy, were well documented by these many exchanges, let us set down as interesting sidelights a few excerpts from the numerous "purple" messages printed in Part 12 of the comprehensive Hearings Before the joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack.


From Tokyo to Berlin 2 July 1941:

* * * * *

The Policy.

1. Imperial Japan shall adhere to the policy of contributing to world peace by establishing the Great East Asia Sphere of Co-prosperity, regardless of how the world situation may change.
2. The Imperial Government shall continue its endeavor to dispose of the China incident, and shall take measures with a view to advancing southward in order to establish firmly a basis for her self-existence and self-protection. [Trans. 8/8/41]1

From Tokyo to All Diplomatic Offices 26 July 1941:

Depending upon how Japanese relations with England and the United States turn out, we may have to consider divesting England and the United States of all their interests in China. If and when things come to the worst, I want all areas concerned to cooperate in either destroying or seizing the considerable mining and other industrial equipment and ships of these countries. Be particularly sure to let nothing be taken away. I want you all to be ready at any moment to take this precautionary step of transferring the property of these two nations to our control. [Trans. 7/28/41]2

From Nomura in Washington to Tokyo 30 July 1941:

Today I knew from the hard looks on their faces that they meant business and I could see that if we do not answer to suit them that they are going to take some drastic steps.
During my first conversation with Roosevelt after I took office the President, referring to the Panay incident, said that at the time he cooperated with the Secretary of State and succeeded in restraining popular opinion but that in case such a thing happened a second time, it would probably be quite impossible to again calm the storm. The latest incident brought all this back to me and I can see just how gravely they are regarding it. Think of it! Popular demand for the freezing of Japanese funds was subsiding and now this had to happen. I must tell you it certainly occurred at an inopportune moment. [Trans. 8/2/41]3

From Tokyo to Embassy in Washington 31 July 1941:

We are expanding our best efforts to cooperate with Germany. She knows it and ought to understand our actions.
6. Well, the formula for cooperation between Tokyo and Berlin, in order to realize the fundamental spirit of the Tripartite Pact, should be for each


1 Hearings, Part 12, p. 1.

2 Ibid., p. 7.

3 Ibid., p. 8.


country to have a certain flexibility in its conduct. What I mean to say is that each should understand that real cooperation does not necessarily mean complete symmetry of action. In other words, we should trust each other and while striving toward one general objective, each use our own discretion within the bounds of good judgment.
Thus, all measures which our Empire shall take will be based upon a determination to bring about the success of the objectives of the Tripartite Pact. That this is a fact is proven by the promulgation of an Imperial rescript. We are ever working toward the realization of those objectives, and now during this dire emergency is certainly no time to engage in any light unpremeditated or over-speedy action. Please send to Rome. [Trans. 8/4/41]4

From Tokyo to Japanese Embassy in Washington 16 October 1941:

Although I have been requested by both the German and Italian Ambassadors in Tokyo to give them confidential information on the Japanese-American negotiations, I have, in consideration of the nature of the negotiations, been declining to do so. However, early this month, following the German attacks on American merchant ships and the consequent (revival?) of the movement for revision of the Neutrality Act, the German authorities demanded that the Japanese Government submit to the American Government a message to the effect that the Japanese Government observes that if the ROOSEVELT Administration continues to attack the Axis Powers increasingly, a belligerent situation would inevitably arise between Germany and Italy on the one hand and the United States on the other, and this would provide the reasons for the convocation of the duties envisioned in the Three Power agreement and might lead Japan to join immediately the war in opposition to the United States. . . . [Trans. 10/17/41]5

From Tokyo to Washington 22 November 1941:

. . . Stick to our fixed policy and do your very best. Spare no efforts and try to bring about the solution we desire. There are reasons beyond your ability to guess why we wanted to settle Japanese-American relations by the 25th, but if within the next three or four days you can finish your conversations with the Americans; if the signing can be completed by the 29th, (let me write it out for you-twenty ninth); if the pertinent notes can be exchanged; if we can get an understanding with Great Britain and the Netherlands; and in short if everything can be finished, we have decided to wait until that date. This time we mean it, that the deadline absolutely cannot be changed. After that things are automatically going to happen. Please take this into your careful consideration and work harder than you ever have before. This,


4 Ibid., p. 10.

5 Ibid., p. 71.


for the present, is for the information of you two Ambassadors alone. [Trans. 11/22/41]6

From Washington to Tokyo 27 November 1941:

On the 27th, I, together with Ambassador Kurusu, called on the President. (Secretary Hull was also present.) The resume of our talks follows:
The President: "In the last Great War, Japan and the United States were together on the side of the Allies. At that time, both Japan and the United States were given ample proof that Germany failed to comprehend the way the people of other countries think.
"Since these conversations were begun, I am aware of the fact that much effort has been made by the Japanese side, too, by those who cherish peace. I am highly appreciative of this fact. It is clear that the majority of the American people are anxious to maintain peaceful relations with Japan. I am one of those who still harbors much hope that Japanese-U. S. relations will be settled peacefully."
I: "Your recent proposal will no doubt be the cause of painful disappointment to the Japanese Government."
The President: "To tell you the truth, I, too, am very disappointed that the situation has developed in the manner that it has. However, during the several months that these conversations were being conducted, cold water was poured on them when Japan occupied southern French Indo-China. According to recent intelligences, there are fears that a second cold water dousing may become an actuality." (He apparently meant the increase in our troops to French Indo-China and our occupation of Thai.) (See my message #1205.) "I fully understand that the general public in Japan who has been living in war conditions for the past year, cannot see a parallel with conditions in the United States, which is living under peaceful conditions.
"During all of the time, however, that Your Excellency and Secretary Hull have been conversing, we have never heard of or seen concrete proof of any peaceful intention by the leading elements of Japan. This has made these talks an exceedingly difficult undertaking." [Trans. 11/29/41]7


From Tokyo to Japanese Ambassador in Berlin 30 November 1941:

4. If when you tell them this, the Germans and Italians question you about our attitude toward the Soviet, say that we have already clarified our attitude toward the Russians in our statement of last July. Say that by our present moves southward we do not mean to relax our pressure against the Soviet and that if Russia joins hands tighter with England and the United States and resists us with hostilities, we are ready to turn upon her with all our


6 Ibid., p. 165.

7 Ibid., pp. 192 and 193.


might; however, right now, it is to our advantage to stress the south and for the time being we would prefer to refrain from any direct moves in the north.
5. This message is important from a strategic point of view and must under all circumstances be held in the most absolute secrecy. This goes without saying. Therefore, will you please impress upon the Germans and Italians how important secrecy is.
6. As for Italy, after our Ambassador in Berlin has communicated this to the Germans, he will transmit a suitable translation to Premier MUSSOLINI and Foreign Minister CIANO. As soon as a date is set for a conference with the Germans and Italians, please let me know. [Trans. 12/1/41]8

* * * * *

From Berlin to Tokyo 29 November 1941:

* * * * *

1. Ribbentrop opened our meeting by again inquiring whether I had received any reports regarding the Japanese-U. S. negotiations. I replied that I had received no official word.
Ribbentrop: "It is essential that Japan effect the New Order in East Asia without losing this opportunity. There never has been and probably never will be a time when closer cooperation under the Tripartite Pact is so important. If Japan hesitates at this time, and Germany goes ahead and establishes her European New Order, all the military might of Britain and the United States will be concentrated against Japan.
"As Fuehrer Hitler said today, there are fundamental differences in the very right to exist between Germany and Japan, and the United States. We have received advice to the effect that there is practically no hope of the Japanese-U. S. negotiations being concluded successfully, because of the fact that the United States is putting up a stiff front.
"If this is indeed the fact of the case, and if Japan reaches a decision to fight Britain and the United States, I am confident that that will not only be to the interest of Germany and Japan jointly, but would bring about favorable results for Japan herself." [Trans. 12/1/41]9

* * * * *

From Tokyo to Japanese Ambassador in Berlin 30 November 1941:

3. The proposal presented by the United States on the 26th made this attitude of theirs clearer than ever. In it there is one insulting clause which says that no matter what treaty either party enters into with a third power it will not be interpreted as having any bearing upon the basic object of this treaty, namely the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. This means specifically the


8 Ibid., pp. 204 and 205.

9 Ibid., p. 200.


Three-Power Pact. It means that in case the United States enters the European war at any time the Japanese Empire will not be allowed to give assistance to Germany and Italy. It is clearly a trick. This clause alone, let alone others, makes it impossible to find any basis in the American proposal for negotiations. What is more, before the United States brought forth this plan, they conferred with England, Australia, the Netherlands, and China -— they did so repeatedly. Therefore, it is clear that the United States is now in collusion with these nations and has decided to regard Japan, along with Germany and Italy, as an enemy. [Trans. 12/1/41]10

From Tokyo to Ambassador in Washington 1 December 1941:

When you are faced with the necessity of destroying codes, get in touch with the Naval Attachés office there and make use of chemicals they have on hand for this purpose. The Attaché should have been advised by the Navy Ministry regarding this. [Trans. 12/1/41]11

From Rome to Tokyo 3 December 1941:

On this day, at 11 o'clock in the morning, I, accompanied by Ando, called on Premier Mussolini, (Foreign Minister Ciano was also present). I described the developments in the Japanese-U. S. negotiations in accordance with the contents of your message #986 to Berlin.
Mussolini: "I have been carefully watching the progress of the Japanese-U. S. talks from the very beginning and therefore am not at all surprised to receive your report. As a matter of fact, in view of the utter bull-headedness of the United States and the meddlesome nature of President Roosevelt, I should say that the outcome was nothing but what should have been expected. One of the aims of the United States is to make the Far East her own, from an economic standpoint. I have felt from the beginning that if it was the intention of the United States to separate Japan from the Axis first and then intervene in Europe, the United States was doomed to fail because of Japan's loyal and sincere nature.
"As Your Excellency and Your Excellency's predecessor know, I wholeheartedly endorse Japan's policy of creating a New Order in East Asia. This has been true in the past, is true now and will be so in the future. I am one who is firmly convinced that Japan has every right to be the leader of the Great East Asia area."
I continued by relating to him the contents of your message referred to in the heading, (with regard to paragraph 3 of that message, I said that I had been advised that some arrangements were being made between our Ambassador in Berlin and Ribbentrop). With regard to paragraph 2, Mussolini said that should war break out, Italy would give every military aid


10 Ibid., p. 206.

11 Ibid., p. 208 and 209.


she had at her disposal, i.e., that she would make every effort to keep the British navy checked in the Mediterranean.
Mussolini: "Recently, the formation of an Italian-German air force bloc was discussed so as to afford closer cooperation between the two to apply further pressure on the British in the Mediterranean. The negotiations on this proposal have progressed to a point where it may be signed any day now."
Regarding paragraph 2 again, should Japan declare war on the United States and Great Britain, I asked, would Italy do likewise immediately? Mussolini replied: "Of course. She is obligated to do so under the terms of the. Tripartite Pact. Since Germany would also be obliged to follow suit, we would like to confer with Germany on this point."
With reference to paragraph 3, I submitted the French text of your message #987, as one proposal, and asked him whether he preferred it to be separately or jointly. He replied that as long as it was done simultaneously with Germany it did not make much difference to him, but if it were done jointly he thought it would give the impression of more strength . . . .12

* * * * *

The total group of "purple" messages showed that Japan was unwilling to give up her alliance with Germany and Italy, would not remove troops from Indo-China, and refused to abide by the American demands regarding China and free trade for U.S. nationals as guaranteed by commercial treaties.

The Japanese were quite unaware that the United States was in possession of their diplomatic code, and therefore able to read their communications. However, they fully realized that the various radio stations under the control of the United States were regularly monitoring the radio traffic of the Japanese Fleet. This was a customary practice among nations and furnished valuable information. One of the obvious advantages was the accumulation of sufficient information and data to enable cryptanalysts to eventually break the codes. It is now common knowledge that the military code of the Japanese was broken shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack, and this achievement was an incalculable benefit.

Another purpose of monitoring was to fix the location of the enemy's ships. This could be done quite handily by means of obtaining cross-bearings. For instance, each ship of the Japanese Fleet had a specific call signal. When that ship answered its call one could use a direction finder to ascertain its


12 Ibid., pp. 228 and 229.


Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal - page 73

Admiral Harold R. Stark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations from 1 August 1939 to 12 March 1942.

general location, and when several of our radio stations from distant areas did likewise, the cross-bearings on that ship would show its definite location. In many cases it would not even be necessary to get cross-bearings, especially when the habitual operations of the fleet vessels were understood.


For quite some time before 7 December the Pearl Harbor radio stations maintained a fairly accurate record of the location of the major units of the Japanese Fleet. This radio intelligence was reported to the Commander-in-Chief almost daily and was considered quite reliable until just prior to the attack, when its reliability was greatly reduced by counter measures taken by the Japanese. First they changed the call signals of their ships on 1 November, and then again on 1 December. This had been done before, and was confusing for a time but not usually for very long. Then the Japanese used deceptive call signals to give the impression that certain major ships like aircraft carriers were elsewhere than where they actually were. For several weeks in late November our monitoring stations lost contact with the Japanese carriers and some other major vessels. This gave rise to the suspicion that these ships might have taken up stations at the naval bases of the Mandated Islands.

The chief countermeasure to defeat monitoring is radio silence, and that is what the Japanese used so effectively. A certain amount of radio silence by the carriers was observed in the early stages of their preparations for the attack, and absolute radio silence was in effect for all ships of the attacking task force which assembled in northern Japan and sailed for Hawaii on 26 November 1941.


The probability of hostilities between the United States and the Axis Powers was well recognized by a large portion of the American public. But how this might come about, and when, was entirely speculative. The news media featured the growing tensions which existed in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, and even the Mediterranean, but few visualized that a direct attack on the United States was imminent. The general concept seemed to be that if we were drawn into the war it would be by going to the defense of a victimized area, such as Malaya or the Dutch East Indies.

In order to relieve the pressure on Malaya and other areas which were held by our allies, the American plan for a possible war with Japan was for the fleet to attack the Japanese Mandated Islands in the Marshalls and the Carolines and to establish a fleet base at Truk. But because of many problems and shortages, such an expedition was looked upon unfavorably by most naval officials. The American public of that time would not support a war of that nature. Then the Japanese solved this dilemma by making a direct attack on the American flag at Pearl Harbor.


The people of Hawaii, including the military, were accustomed to news reports showing the continuing controversy between opposing powers, but in Hawaii there was little turmoil or tension. Business went on routinely, people pursued their usual activities, and military personnel were carrying out the program of preparedness. There was little suspicion that Japan would launch a direct attack prior to a state of war, or at least an ultimatum, against the strong-hold of the Pacific. Among the military the prevailing talk seemed to be that if war should come it would be somewhere else, probably in the Southwest Pacific.

From official Washington there had come to Hawaii, as to other Pacific outposts, almost a superfluity of alarms and alerts for over a year. These were usually of a general nature as reflecting the new aggressions of Japan, or the widening gap in diplomatic relations. In most cases such warnings were precautionary and were not intended for public information. In fact the Hawaiian commanders were always cautioned to limit the warning information to those who needed to know, and to avoid arousing or irritating Japan by any overt or unfriendly action. The rank and file of the military, as well as the general public, were probably not aware of the serious implications which existed just prior to 7 December. And some of the most important implications were not known to the high commands in Hawaii because Washington had not transmitted them. The warning signals sent from Washington had value, but were lacking in important essentials. Naturally, in Washington they could not be specific enough to forecast what would happen. There were sometimes differences in the estimates of the situation between the Army and the Navy. Furthermore, the separate signals sent out by the Army and the Navy were received and evaluated separately in Hawaii. There was not unity of command but there was a remarkable degree of discussion and coordination regarding the information which was received. The first alert came from the War Department to the Hawaiian Army Command and to Panama in June 1940. The date marked the fall of France, indications of possible German aggression in South America, and also the Japanese bombing of Chungking. This alert continued for a month. The Navy was not included in the Washington instructions but was told of the situation locally, and participated by increasing its long-range air patrol and continuing it for some months. Washington cautioned Hawaii to avoid publicity or in any way from provoking curiosity of news media or alien agents.


In February 1941 the Secretary of the Navy advised the Secretary of War of the possibility of air attack on Pearl Harbor. Copies of this communication were received by the Army and by the Navy in Hawaii. In July 1941 Hawaii was warned of the tense situation caused by the Japanese occupation of Southern Indo-China and the United States' imposition of an embargo on trade with Japan.

When the Konoye cabinet fell in Japan and General Tojo took over the government as Premier in October 1941, the Hawaiian commands and other Pacific commands were again advised of the seriousness of the situation in the Pacific. This dispatch from the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington went to all commanders directly concerned. Admiral Kimmel issued a new security order under date of 14 October 1941 which superseded the security order which was in effect dated 15

Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, USN

Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, USN, Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet on 7 December 1941.


February 1941. This delineated actions to be taken in the anti-aircraft defense, anti-submarine defense, Army and Navy coordination, communications plans, drills, and so on. In his order Admiral Kimmel stated: "That no responsible foreign power will provoke war . . . by attack on the Fleet or Base, . . . [but] that a declaration of war may be preceded by; (1) a surprise attack on ships in Pearl Harbor, (2) a surprise submarine attack on ships in the operating areas, (3) a combination of these two."13 This eventuality had been mentioned in the letter sent to the Secretary of War by the Secretary of the Navy in January 1941. It had also been covered in great detail by the Martin-Bellinger order for the defense of Pearl Harbor 31 March 1941. In that order it is stated: "In the past Orange [Japan] has never preceded hostile actions by a declaration of war." The Chief-of-Staff of Admiral Kimmel, Rear Admiral W. W. Smith, stated at the Hewitt Inquiry that "they were aware of the possibility of hostile action without a declaration of war, but they expected the Japanese might hit the Philippines, Midway, or Guam, but not Pearl Harbor."14 This was the thought-universally held.

The Navy Department dispatch of 16 October 1941, was essentially as follows:

The resignation of the Japanese Cabinet has created a grave situation. If a new Cabinet is formed it will probably be strongly nationalistic and anti-American. If the Konoye Cabinet remains the effect will be that it will operate under a new mandate which will not include rapprochement with the U.S. In either case hostilities between Japan and Russia are a strong possibility. Since the U.S. and Britain are held responsible by Japan for her present desperate situation there is also a possibility that Japan may attack these two powers. In view of these possibilities you will take due precautions including such preparatory deployments as will not disclose strategic intention nor constitute provocative actions against Japan.15

On 24 November 1941, a message was received from the Navy Department as follows: 

Chances of favorable outcome of negotiations with Japan very doubtful. This situation coupled with statements of Japanese Government and movements of their naval and military forces indicate in our opinion that a surprise aggressive movement in any direction including attack on Philippines or Guam is a possibility. Chief of Staff has seen this dispatch concurs and


13 Pacific Fleet Confidential Letter No. 2CL-41 (Revised), 14 October 1941, p. 1.

14 Ibid., Part 36, p. 442.

15 Report of the Joint Committee, p. 96.


requests action adees to inform senior Army officers their areas. Utmost secrecy necessary in order not to complicate an already tense situation or precipitate Japanese action. Guam will be informed separately.16

The final and most important warning was sent from Washington and to other Pacific outposts on 27 November 1941. It was specifically designated as a "war warning." It reads as follows:

This despatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotiations with Japan looking toward stabilization of conditions in the Pacific have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days. The number and equipment of Japanese troops and the organization of naval task forces indicates an amphibious expedition against either the Philippines Thai or Kra Peninsula or possibly Borneo. Execute an appropriate defensive deployment preparatory to carrying out the tasks assigned in WPL46. Inform district and Army authorities. A similar warning is being sent by War Department. SPENAVO inform British. Continental districts Guam Samoa directed take appropriate measures against sabotage.17

It is noted that at no time did Washington indicate any belief of a surprise air attack on Pearl Harbor in advance of a formal declaration of hostilities. On the contrary, the supposition continued to be that Japan's moves would be to the south, and evidence was at hand giving validity to such beliefs. This belief was supported by the fortnightly summary sent out from Washington under date of 1 December 1941 from the Director of Naval Intelligence. On the Japanese naval situation it stated: 

Deployment of naval forces to the southward has indicated clearly that extensive preparations are underway for hostilities. At the same time troop transports and freighters are pouring continually down from Japan and northern China coast ports headed south, apparently for French Indo-China and Formosan ports. Present movements to the south appear to be carried out by small individual units, but the organization of an extensive task force, now definitely indicated, will probably take sharper form in the next few days. To date this task force, under the command of the Commander in Chief Second Fleet, appears to be subdivided into two major task groups, one gradually concentrating off the Southeast Asiatic coast, the other in the Mandates. Each constitutes a strong striking force of heavy and light cruisers, units of the Combined Air Force, destroyer and submarine squadrons. Although one division of battleships also may be assigned the major capital ship strength remains in home waters, as well as the greatest portion of the carriers.


16 Ibid., p. 98.

17 Ibid., p. 98.


The equipment being carried south is a vast assortment, including landing boats in considerable numbers. Activity in the Mandates, under naval control, consists not only of large reinforcements of personnel, aircraft, munitions but also of construction material with yard workmen, engineers, etc.18

Washington's acute desire to avoid war in the Pacific should also be noted. In fact both the War and Navy Departments expressed the hope in November 1941 that firm diplomatic attitudes toward Japan not be taken for a period of three months or more, during which time reasonable preparedness would be obtained. It was especially desired to improve defenses in the Philippines as it was recognized that the Japanese coveted this territory. Its location was critical to Japanese expansion. The United States was in process of adding a large number of B-17's to the air power of the Philippine Islands. Under date of 27 November 1941 General Marshall, the Army's Chief of Staff, and Admiral Stark, the Chief of Naval Operations, asked the President and Secretary of State for more time to prepare, stating: "The most essential thing now, from the United States viewpoint, is to gain time. . . . Precipitance of military action on our part should be avoided so long as consistent with national policy."19

Although the additional time was not to be, the fact was clear that the United States did not commit any overt military action against Japan. The final overt hostile act was Japan's treacherous bombing of Pearl Harbor with a consequent toll of destruction and human lives.


While Washington furnished to Hawaii and elsewhere a great volume of information on the critical relations between Japan and the United States, it is a fact that some very important information was not sent to Hawaii. This was the "purple" information regarding the specific ships in designated locations in Pearl Harbor during the few days prior to 7 December, and the instructions to various places to burn certain codes. However, it should be mentioned here that the work of decoding and translation of the multitude of messages was not completed until after 7 December. The amount


18 Fortnightly Summary of Current National Situations, Navy Department, Serial No. 25, 1 December 1941, p. 9.

19 Report of the Joint Committee, p. 175.


of work over-taxed the section in charge of this specialty and some of it was not completed until after the air attack.

At an earlier time, shortly after "purple" messages became available, the Fleet was an addressee for this information. But this was discontinued about six months before the attack in the interest of security. Obviously the value to our government of intercepting and reading Japanese secret diplomatic messages was so great that it would be foolhardy to risk any compromise of our advantage.

Likewise, the instructions to Japanese Embassies and Consulates to destroy their codes and coding machines were highly significant. Here again, Hawaii was not cut in directly. However, the commands in Hawaii were aware of it through their own surveillance of the Japanese Consulate as American representatives observed the burning of records there.

While we must recognize the possibility that the Pearl Harbor attack should have been blunted to some extent if more of the information avail able in Washington had been transmitted to Hawaii, there is room for other viewpoints. Harassed by the pressure of events and torrents of information, the responsible officials in Washington were subject to human limitations as to relative urgency, evaluation, and necessary action. Without doubt some officials, using their hindsight, could later see that certain things might have been done differently and better. At the time, however, it would seem that their estimate of the situation indicated that little could be gained by alerting Hawaii beyond what already had been done. As for the Hawaiian commands, some people observed that they were "fed up" on alarms, alerts, rumors, and an overdose of pressures and cautionary messages. Fleet operations were at times subordinate to alerts and defense drills, and suffered accordingly. The cry of "wolf" had become so customary that it no longer made an impact. And even if the Pacific Fleet had been fully ready, the damage would not have been much less. In fact, it might well have been much more.


Japanese Attack, Strategy, and Tactics




Japanese Attack, Strategy, and Tactics


The attack on Pearl Harbor was the brain-child of Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet. He was well schooled in American ways, having had a tour of duty in Washington. Moreover, he was well regarded by American officers, was a sophisticated poker player, giving to successful bluffing.1 He was regarded as bold and venturesome. But, to some he was head-strong and lacking in prudence.

He had worked his way up in the Japanese Navy, was vice-minister in 1939, but became the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet in 1941 due to his familiarity with aircraft and carriers. He was a proponent of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The purpose was to sink or cripple large units so as to immobilize the Pacific Fleet while the Japanese invaded the Philippine Islands, the East Indies, and improved the defenses of the Mandates.

Thus a perimeter could be drawn which would discourage the United States, British, and Dutch responses and would in due time destroy the American will to fight an enemy so far from home.

Yamamoto proved an aggressive naval commander. He carried through the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as the naval operations against other points in the South, proving to an unbelieving world that the Japanese were capable of more than one major offensive at the same time. Fortunately for the Allied Powers, especially the United States, Yamamoto's plane was shot down in April 1943 while on a naval inspection trip to the Solomon Islands.

In January 1941 Rear Admiral Onishi was appointed Chief of Staff of the Japanese Eleventh Air Fleet and ordered to make a study of the Pearl Harbor operation. In early September 1941 Admiral Nagano, Chief of General Staff, and selected members of the Combined Fleet and the First


1 The Campaigns of the Pacific War, United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Naval Analysis Division, Washington, D.C., 1946, p. 13. Hereafter cited as Campaigns.


Air Fleet commenced work on details of the actual plan of attack. It was then that the attack on Pearl Harbor was played several times on the war game-board and each time it showed a successful attack with a maximum loss of about one-third of the Japanese force, including airplanes.

By August 1941 or earlier aviators were trained to drop torpedoes from very low altitudes; the torpedoes were fitted with wooden fins or stabilizers to prevent diving. To defeat nets around capital ships, the aviators were trained to use bombs from high-level planes and diving planes. Some of these bombs were made over from 14 or 15-inch armor-piercing shells in order to penetrate the armored decks or turret tops of battleships.

The Japanese were fully aware of the U.S. Fleet doctrine to get underway in case of attack and to pass out to sea through Pearl Harbor's narrow entrance channel. To take full advantage of this eventuality the Japanese stationed five fleet submarines near the entrance and had about thirteen more submarines on patrol duty in other areas bordering Hawaii. These submarines left Yokohama on 11 November 1941 and sailed by different routes.

Five of the large submarines carried midget submarines on their decks.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, IJN, Commander-in-Chief Combined Fleet.


The midgets were to enter Pearl Harbor if they could and fire torpedoes against the capital ships. The midget submarines had only two men aboard, carried only two small torpedoes, and were about seventy-nine feet long. After launching midget submarines from their decks not later than the evening of 6 December, the large submarines were to patrol around Hawaiian waters to intercept enemy ships leaving Pearl Harbor. In no case were submarines to attack prior to the air attack.


The task force under command of Vice Admiral Nagumo, assembled at Hitokappu Bay on the island of Erotufu in the Aleutian Islands of Japan on 22 November 1941, although some of the vessels had come earlier. The assembling of ships was spread out as utmost secrecy was to be observed. The government knew of the proposed attack on the United States Fleet but this knowledge was withheld from all not directly connected with the project. The Emperor knew of the plan in general, but the attack was not to occur until after the message concluding negotiations with the United States Government was delivered.

Complete radio silence was practiced and some radio deception was engaged in. Careful planning of the route to Pearl Harbor was undertaken and the northern route was chosen despite anticipated bad weather for refueling in order to avoid meeting other ships and to make detection less likely.

Prior to departure the aviators were deemed sufficiently trained, and refueling exercises had proved very successful. The task force sailed for Pearl Harbor on 25 November 2941, United States time.


The Pearl Harbor attack force proceeded along the track shown on page 89. The force operated under certain instructions which should be mentioned. "X" Day2 was selected as 7 December (U.S. time) because it was Sunday. A few days later would have been more desirable because of


2 "X" Day in military parlance means the day of actual attack or opening of hostilities.


the darkness of the moon. The refueling was undertaken on 3 December (U.S. time) without mishap.

No shipping was encountered, but if the attack force was discovered prior to "X-2" day the force was to return to Japan without executing the attack. If discovered prior to "X-1" day the decision became the responsibility of the attack force commander, but if discovered on "X-1" or "X" day the attack was to continue. If the United States Fleet interfered in any way it was to be attacked and sunk.

On 1 December 1941, (U.S. time) the Japanese Naval General Staff approved the Pearl Harbor attack. This was supplemented by the approval of the Commander-in-Chief of the Combined Fleet, Admiral Yamamoto. The orders issued are given below.3 The times given are Japanese times which are one day later than United States times.

5 November 1941

From: The Chief of Naval General Staff
To: CinC Combined Fleet

1. In view of the fact that it is feared war has become unavoidable with the United States, Great Britain, and the Netherlands, and for the self preservation and future existence of the Empire, the various preparations for war operations will be completed by the first part of December.
2. The CinC of the Combined Fleet will effect the required preparations for war operations.
3. Execution of details will be as directed by Chief of the Naval General Staff.

7 November 1941

From: CinC Combined Fleet
To: First Air Fleet

The Task Force, keeping its movement strictly secret, shall assemble in Hitokappu Bay by 22 November for refueling.

Note: (Upon arrival at Hitokappu Bay all ships with a limited cruising range were deck loaded with drums of fuel and oil was stowed in all available spaces inside the ships.)

25 November 1941

From: CinC Combined Fleet
To: First Air Fleet

(Pearl Harbor Attack Force)

The task force, keeping its movement strictly secret and maintaining close


3 Paraphrased versions of these orders may be found in Hearings, Part 13, pp. 415-417.


guard against submarines and aircraft, shall advance into Hawaiian waters, and upon the very opening of hostilities shall attack the main force of the United States Fleet in Hawaii and deal it a mortal blow. The first air raid is planned for the dawn of X-day (exact date to be given by later order).
Upon completion of the air raid, the task force, keeping close coordination and guarding against the enemy's counterattack, shall speedily leave the enemy waters and then return to Japan.
Should the negotiations with the United States prove successful, the task force shall hold itself in readiness forthwith to return and reassemble.

25 November 1941

From: CinC Combined Fleet
To: First Air Fleet

(Pearl Harbor Attack Force)

The task force, keeping its movement strictly secret, shall leave Hitokappu Bay on the morning of 26th November and advance to 42° N. 170° E. on the afternoon of 3 December and speedily complete refueling.

1 December 1941

From: The Chief of Naval General Staff
To: CinC Combined Fleet

Japan under the necessity of her self-preservation, has reached a decision to declare war on the United States of America, British Empire, and the Netherlands. Time to start action will be announced later. The CinC Combined Fleet shall, at the start of war direct an attack on the enemy fleet in the Hawaiian area and reduce it to impotency using the First Air Fleet as the nucleus of the attack force.

Note: (The above despatch was issued by Admiral Nagano under authority delegated by Imperial Order. The commencement of hostilities was decided upon by Cabinet Council on 1 December.)

2 December 1941

From: The Chief of Naval General Staff
To: CinC Combined Fleet

The hostile action against the United States of America, the British Empire, and the Netherlands shall be commenced on 8 December. Bear in mind that, should it appear certain that Japanese-American negotiations will reach an amicable settlement prior to the commencement of hostile action, all forces of the Combined Fleet are to be ordered to reassemble and return to their bases.

Note that if the American government agreed to the Japanese demands


the attack force would not attack but would return to their bases. The likelihood for this was remote indeed. Yet the Japanese diplomats were kept active in Washington as it was intended that they should not present the final note until one-half hour before the scheduled time of the Pearl Harbor attack. Actually they did not present it until after the attack, due to their own delay.

Of course the diplomatic efforts were not successful and as a result the Japanese attack force continued. It received the signal "Climb Mount Niitaka" on "X-1" day, which was the order to attack. The attack force arrived at its destination, 200 miles north of Oahu at 0730 on 7 December 1941 (U.S. time). The first air attack took off from the carriers at 0600, preceded by two float planes each from two heavy cruisers. These visited Pearl Harbor and Lahaina Roads and reported "all clear."

The strategy of the Japanese was to immobilize the various air bases on the Hawaiian island of Oahu so that fighter planes could not get into the air and offer opposition.


The attack force consisted of the following six aircraft carriers: Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Zuikaku, Hiryu, Shokaku. To these had been added a number of seasoned aviators from carriers not included in the attack force.

The Screening Unit had the mission of furnishing cover. This unit was composed of one light cruiser and nine destroyers. The Support Force was composed of two battleships and two heavy cruisers.

The Patrol Unit was three "I"-type submarines which preceded the attack force and patrolled the ship lanes. In addition there were eight tankers which returned to Japan following the refueling on 3 December.


The force launched 360 planes. The first wave of 189 planes took off at 0600 under command of Commander Fuchida. The second wave of 171 planes, under command of Lieutenant Commander Shimazaki, were scheduled to take off one hour and fifteen minutes later. Because these overlapped somewhat, and because the second wave was about fifteen minutes ahead of


Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal - page 89

Japanese Task Force Track Chart


Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo

Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, IJN, Commander-in-Chief First Air Fleet and Commander Pearl Harbor Striking Force.

schedule, United States observers at Pearl Harbor were unable to state accurately when one wave ended and another began.

In addition to the 360 planes in the attacking wave, the carriers retained 54 type Zero fighters to take turns as combat air patrol. The patrols alternated every two hours and continued from an hour before sunrise until forty-five minutes after sunset.

The first wave consisted of 50 horizontal bombers each carrying an 800 kilogram (1760 pounds) armor-piercing bomb, 40 torpedo planes each carrying an 800 kilogram4 aerial torpedo, and 54 dive-bombers each carrying a 250 kilogram land bomb as well as machine guns for strafing. In addition 45 fighters were over these planes for air control and strafing attack as might be required.

The targets of the horizontal bombers, attacking from 10,000 feet, and the low flying torpedo planes were the battleships and carriers. The battle-


4 One kilogram is about 2.2 pounds.


15 50 189 360 HORIZONTAL
ONE 800-KG
ONE 800-KG
27 54 DIVE
27 54 171 HORIZONTAL
18 81 DIVE

Japanese Aircraft Attack Organization

ships were mostly secured in pairs, so that the inboard battleships could not be reached with torpedoes. Therefore the horizontal bombers intended to hit inboard battleships with enough large armor-piercing bombs to put them out of commission. It is well to remember that the ships were entirely stationary while the Japanese airplanes were operating in ideal visibility and wind conditions.

The first objective of the dive-bombers was the air bases at Ford Island and Wheeler Field where the fighters were located. The air patrol was to strafe the air bases if the United States fighters failed to appear. They were also to attack the air bases at Ford Island, Hickam, Wheeler, Ewa, Bellows, and Kaneohe with their 20 millimeter5 and 7.7 millimeter machine guns.

The second wave consisted of 54 horizontal bombers each carrying one


5 One millimeter equals 1/1000 of a meter. One meter equals 39.37 inches.


250 kilogram bomb and six 60 kilogram bombs. In addition 36 fighters were overhead to meet Hawaiian based fighters or for strafing airfields with their 20 millimeter and 7.7 millimeter machine guns. The mission of the horizontal bombers was the various air bases, while the objectives of the dive-bombers were the major ships of the Pacific Fleet.

The attack started at Wheeler and Ford Island at 0755, while the torpedo planes attacked the battleships at 0757. The grounded aircraft were attacked at 0800 and the horizontal bombers got into action about 0805. It was estimated that although the 250 kilogram bombs would not pierce the armored decks of the battleships they would be effective against cruisers and carriers. But finding no carriers present, these bombs were directed against battleships.

The Japanese torpedoes were especially effective. There were no torpedo nets spread for the protection of battleships, and each battleship was a stationary target which could hardly be missed by the forty torpedo planes flying 50-100 feet above the water. We were to learn that Japanese torpedoes were more lethal than American torpedoes; first, because they had been tested for explosive effect whereas American torpedoes had not been so tested on grounds of economy; secondly, because the Japanese used oxygen, which is highly explosive, instead of air for propulsion of torpedoes; and thirdly, because the torpedoes carried an explosive charge of over 1000 pounds as compared to the American charge of about 500 pounds.

The question was asked why torpedo nets were not used by the fleet, and why captive balloons were not employed. The answers are very simple. Due to the restricted area, and the need for seaplane lanes for taking off and landing, torpedo nets could not be used. Balloon barrages were considered undesirable because they interfered with our own aircraft over the fleet. Probably, the best answer is that these items were not available in sufficient quantity at that time.


The illustration on page 93 gives the plan of attack, and indicates the reason local observers concluded that the planes came from a southerly direction. It will be noted that the first wave was to leave the northerly rendezvous at 0740 and the second wave at 0850. The torpedo bombers


Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal - page 93

Aircraft Approach to Oahu


were to approach the battleships from the port beam, which they did with disastrous results.

Each aviator had a chart or map showing the exact location of his target. Finding no aircraft carrier in Pearl Harbor, these fliers used some of their ammunition on battleships and some on the old battleship Utah which had been converted to an aircraft target ship. She was presumably identified by some aviators as an aircraft carrier.


The damage caused by the submarines stationed at the entrance to Pearl Harbor was negligible. Of the five midget submarines all were eventually lost without inflicting any damage. No ship was damaged by torpedoes fired from the "I"-type submarines on patrol duty after launching their midget submarines. One "I"-type was lost on 10 December in an attack by Enterprise planes. The fleet type submarines were on patrol duty in the Hawaiian area until early January, but caused no damage. Thereafter they were on the West Coast of the United States, accomplishing only minor results.


After completing its mission each Japanese aircraft was to return to its carrier. The losses reported from American sources were frequently duplicated and gave an inflated figure. Japanese admissions after the surrender presumably gave a true picture and were as follows:

Aircraft in first wave:
     Fighter Planes 3
     Dive-Bombers 1
     Torpedo Bombers 5
     Total 9
Aircraft in Second wave:
     Fighter Planes 6
     Dive-Bombers 14
     Total 20
Grand total of aircraft lost: 29



Japanese midget submarine No. 19

The losses of the Japanese do not include planes lost or damaged when returning to the carriers.

Submarines lost:
     Fleet type "I" 1
     Midget type 5
     Total 66

The airplanes returned to their carriers immediately after rendezvousing with their fighters at a point about 20 miles bearing 340° from Kaena Point. The aircraft carriers were underway for Japan at that time. There was no rearming of airplanes for renewed attacks on Pearl Harbor. Admiral Nagumo felt that the mission was completed and he was intent on getting clear of the area as quickly as possible as had been ordered. He was somewhat afraid of an attack by American carrier planes whose whereabouts


6 Campaigns, pp. 18 and 19.


were unknown, and from land based pursuit planes of the Army at Pearl Harbor. Nagumo assumed that as many as fifty of these were operable after the attack.

He had one mission yet to perform. On his return voyage to Japan he detached two aircraft carriers, two heavy cruisers, and two destroyers for an attack on Wake Island.


From pilot reports and photographs taken from attack planes of the second wave the Japanese estimate was:

Ships damaged or sunk:
     Sunk - 4 battleships, 1 cruiser, 2 tankers
     Heavily damaged - 4 battleships
     Lightly damaged - 1 battleship
Aircraft shot down or damaged:
     Shot down - 10
     Destroyed on the ground - 2507


7 Ibid., p. 19.


Results of Japanese Surprise Air Raid




Results of Japanese Surprise Air Raid


Sunday, 7 December 1941 was a typical day of rest in Hawaii. The weather was perfect with some cloud cover overhead. The people were taking it easy as was their custom on Sundays. The military was sleeping in or eating breakfast a bit late since this was a day of relaxation and rest. The accounts of battleship survivors, which are included later in this work, give the state of mind general among the military as well as among all Hawaiian residents.

Although Admiral Kimmel in his Fleet Order warned of a surprise air raid on Pearl Harbor as a possibility, few thought "it could happen here." Most people felt the Japanese would not attack without a declaration of hostile intent. The fact that they had attacked China in 1895 and Russia in 1905 without a declaration of war was considered not applicable to modern Japan. The military personnel, however, were not sure of Japan's code of honor in this regard, and made preparations accordingly. Yet, in the various hearings no American military man excused the air raid on the ground that Japan had violated her solemn agreement to the Hague Convention.

There was little real reconnaissance on 7 December. There was none to the north, which proved to be the vulnerable direction. It was taken for granted that if the Japanese attacked, the attack would be from a southerly direction, where the Mandated Islands were. But, the trade winds were northerly and would be helpful to the Japanese in carrying a bomb load over 200 miles of water.


<p>80-G-30554: Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941. Photograph taken from a Japanese plane during the torpedo attack on ships moored on both sides of Ford Island. View looks about east, with the supply depot, submarine base and fuel tank farm in the right center distance. A torpedo has just hit USS West Virginia on the far side of Ford Island (center). Other battleships moored nearby are (from left): Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee (inboard of West Virginia), Oklahoma (torpedoed and listing) alongside Maryland, and California. On the near side of Ford Island, to the left, are light cruisers Detroit and Raleigh, target and training ship Utah and seaplane tender Tangier. Raleigh and Utah have been torpedoed, and Utah is listing sharply to port. Japanese planes are visible in the right center (over Ford Island) and over the Navy Yard at right. Japanese writing in the lower right states that the photograph was reproduced by authorization of the Navy Ministry. Also at NHHC as NH 50930. This image also exists at the Library of Congress. Original Japanese caption reads, “Full View of Ford Island gasping under the attack of our Sea Eagles. This distant view of Ford Island immediately after the attack of our assault force shows the enemy capital ships lined up on the opposite sides of the island. In the foreground is a cruiser fleet, including the battleship Utah. The enemy ships around the island have all become tempting targets for our Sea Eagles. In the upper right, clearly appear the outlines of two of our Sea Eagles who are carrying out a daring low-level attack, reminiscent of the performance of the gods.”(9/22/2015).</p>

Japanese planes over Ford Island.


The first indication of hostile action by Japan was a submarine periscope sighted at 0350 by the minesweeper Condor. The destroyer Ward, which was on patrol duty at the Pearl Harbor entrance, was notified and opened fire and dropped depth charges. Also a PBY seaplane dropped depth charges which showed a noticeable oil slick after the explosions. It was assumed that the submarine was sunk in about 1,200 feet of water.

A message was sent at 0654 which was delivered to the Duty Officer of the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Fleet at 0715. After requesting confirmation Patrol Wing TWO verified the report at 0732. But a second confirmation of this unbelievable circumstance was requested. Before verification was received the attack on Ford Island dispelled all doubt.


At 0755 the Navy Yard signal tower telephoned to the Commander-in-Chief at his quarters, "Enemy air raid-not drill." At about the same time the Commander Patrol Wing TWO broadcasted from Ford Island the warn-


ing: "Air Raid, Pearl Harbor-This is Not a Drill." Within a few minutes an identical message came from the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Fleet doctrine required all ships to get underway as soon as possible but some were not able to overcome the damage which the Japanese attack wrought. As it turned out, it was better that ships stayed moored because there was some fear that the planes had dropped mines in the entrance channel; and let us not forget that enemy submarines awaited the ships in the various sea lanes. Most destroyers and a few cruisers did get underway and joined forces to find and confront the Japanese Fleet, but these searched southward instead of northward. Perhaps it was best that they were unable to contact the Japanese forces, for these forces were much superior and had plenty of air power. Sunk at sea, they would have been lost beyond recall - though they would have been far tougher targets.


True to the Japanese plan all air bases were first put out of commission so that air interference with Japanese attacks on the ships of the fleet was minimal. Ford Island was attacked at 0755 and all fighting planes were effectively disposed of prior to torpedo attacks on ships which occurred at 0757. Likewise Ewa, Hickam, Wheeler, Bellows, and Kaneohe were subjected to dive-bomber attacks and machine gun strafing. The Army field at Haleiwa was not attacked because the Japanese knew it had only a few reserve training planes.

The Army was on sabotage alert only, and therefore its planes were grouped together with ten feet or less from wing-tip to wing-tip. Only machine gun ammunition was available to Army personnel until well into the morning. This fact plus the sabotage philosophy resulted in a perfect target for the Japanese dive-bombers and machine gun strafers.

The score board shows that the attackers put all of the air bases virtually out of commission for several hours. The figures given before the joint Congressional Investigating Committee on 15 November 1945 are as follows: 

Ford Island - 33 out of 70 totally destroyed or damaged.

Ewa - 33 out of 49 totally destroyed.


16 out of the remainder were too damaged to fly. (3 were on patrol.)

Hickam - 18 out of 30 combat planes totally destroyed.

Wheeler - 42 out of 83 combat planes totally destroyed.

Bellows - 3 out of 12 combat planes totally destroyed.

Kaneohe - 26 out of 35 seaplanes totally destroyed. 

6 were severely damaged. (3 were on patrol.)1

The true story is that the Japanese put out of commission the half dozen potent air bases in Hawaii. Although the Army Air Force and Naval Air acted heroically when the true nature of the attack was comprehended by the personnel, the fact remains that only a token air force was able to resist the Japanese or follow them to their carriers.


Within a very short time after Ford Island and Hickam were struck, the moored ships were attacked by torpedo planes. The forty planes came in

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

Wreckage at Naval Air Station, Ford Island, with ships burning in background, 7Â December 1941.


1 Hearings, Part 1, pp. 54 and 55.


Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

Planes and hangars wrecked during the Japanese attack on Naval Air Station, Ford Island.

groups in the early stages of the assault and their targets being stationary, the accuracy of fire was lethal. The torpedoes were let go 50-100 feet above the water only a few hundred yards short of the ships. There were four groups of torpedo bombers in all, the first one on the port beams of the ships. The following ships were hit: California, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona. The second group also attacked the port sides. The third was from the west and was directed against ships tied up at the Navy Yard dock. It was then that Helena was hit by a torpedo after it had passed under Oglala. The force of the explosion opened a hole in the old minelayer Oglala which eventually caused her to capsize. The fourth group came from the northwest and was successful in putting at least two torpedoes in Utah and one in Raleigh. The old battleship Utah was rigged as an aerial target ship and resembled an aircraft carrier; she capsized to port at 0813. It is interesting to note that Utah and Raleigh occupied berths usually assigned to aircraft carriers. The forty torpedo planes presumably fired forty torpedoes, of which about half found their mark.

A few of the Japanese torpedoes were recovered from the mudbanks in which they ended their runs. All of them were fitted with wooden fins to prevent diving, and they were modified to explode after a very short run. These were new features to the Americans as it had been believed a depth


of at least seventy-five feet was necessary for modern torpedoes, and a run of several hundred yards was required prior to explosion.


The inboard ships could not be reached by torpedoes, for which reason the Japanese endeavored to immobilize them by armor-piercing projectiles dropped from a height of about 10,000 feet. The following ships were hit by 14 or 15-inch projectiles or later by smaller bombs: Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, California, West Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, Honolulu, Vestal, Shaw, Floating Dry Dock Number Two, and Curtiss. Cassin and Downes were in Dry Dock Number One ahead of Pennsylvania and


Japanese planes attacking Pearl Harbor.


were hit by diving planes using the smaller bombs. The extent of the damage caused is covered in a later chapter.


Honolulu did not escape. Several people were killed on the streets of the city or elsewhere, and several buildings were destroyed, including a Japanese language school. Whether all losses resulted from bombs being jettisoned by planes before their return to their carriers or whether some were 5-inch shells fired by fleet ships at Japanese planes is not clear and probably never will be solved.

A number of private planes, out for flying in balmy Hawaiian skies, were shot down by the Japanese in the early stages of the attack. Such planes were entirely inoffensive and the slaughter of their occupants was wanton murder in the first degree.


Some mainland newspapers published stories of a dearth of manpower at air bases and on board ship on Sunday morning, or unfitness for duty on account of drunkenness. The Roberts Commission had as witnesses the President of the Temperance League of Hawaii and its Executive Secretary. Both of them admitted that the letter signed by them to the people of America was exaggerated and slanderous. Although there were about 11,000 soldiers and sailors in Honolulu on the night of 6 December, that figure represents only about ten percent of the total military force, and only a few were drunk or disorderly. In fact the police records indicate that more civilians were arrested for drunkenness on the night of 6 December than were military. It should also be noted that leave or liberty expired at midnight, and the military personnel who imbibed beer at the various service clubs could not obtain beer after midnight on 6 December. No liquor was served on military ships.

Officers and selected enlisted men whose families lived at the time in Honolulu were granted weekend leave over 7 December. Yet the figures were kept within the limits set by the fleet order. The hearings of the Con-


gressional Committee show that the actual number of men on board and available for duty at 0800 on 7 December were:

Admirals 5 or more
Commanding officers of battleships 5 out of 8
Commanding officers of cruisers 6 out of 7
Commanding officers of destroyers 63%
Damage-control officers of battleships 6 out of 8
Average percentage of officers:
  Battleships (approximate) 60-70%
  Cruisers, battle force (approximate) 65%
  Destroyers, battle force (approximate) 50%
Average percentage of men:
  Battleships 95%
  Cruisers, battle force 98%
  Destroyers, battle force 85%2

The Army exceeded these figures somewhat because the Army had quarters available at the duty sites for officers and enlisted men.


As has been seen the fleet order required that about one-fourth of the antiaircraft batteries be manned, with ammunition near at hand. The batteries selected were in various sectors, with range finders and directors appropriate to those sectors. The 50 caliber machine guns were furnished with 300 rounds of ammunition, and the two 5-inch guns with 15 rounds each in ready service boxes. Additional ammunition was furnished from magazines by personnel regularly assigned to that task and by volunteers. The number of shots fired by various guns was given at the Congressional Investigation as follows:

Rounds of machine gun ammunition 275,807
Rounds of 5-inch 50 caliber 1,741
Rounds of 5-inch 25 caliber 1,523
Rounds of 5-inch 38 caliber 1,6653


2 Ibid., p. 49.

3 Ibid., p. 57.


Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

Heavy barrage of anti-aircraft fire which the Japanese planes encountered.

The machine guns got into action promptly while the 5-inch guns were firing within four minutes. The destroyers had all anti-aircraft batteries firing in about seven minutes although the machine guns opened fire immediately. As will be seen from survivors' reports printed later, general quarters was sounded on practically all ships promptly. The effectiveness of the Navy fire is evidenced by the fact that five of the torpedo planes which began the attack on the large units of the fleet were shot down.

Mention should be made of the midget submarine which gained entrance to Pearl Harbor. At 0835 on 7 December Curtiss sighted a periscope and immediately opened fire. The submarine surfaced and fired one torpedo toward the nested destroyers. Curtiss hit the conning tower twice as Monaghan dropped depth charges. There was never any doubt that the submarine was sunk. It is shown on page 169 as finally recovered several weeks later.

As for the Army, only a limited amount of ammunition was at hand, although machine gun ammunition was available on some of the Army planes. None of the 3-inch mobile batteries were emplaced. There was not at the time any anti-aircraft batteries around airfields or around the Navy compound.



Deeds of heroism in both the Army and Navy were common and in keeping with the highest traditions of the services. The Army awarded five Distinguished Service Crosses and sixty-five Silver Stars; the Navy recommended fifteen Medals of Honor and awarded sixty Navy Crosses.


The Army list given at the Congressional Investigating Committee was as follows:

  Killed in action or fatally wounded 215
  Wounded in action 360
  Missing in action 22
The Navy was as follows:
  Killed in action or fatally wounded 2,036
  Wounded in action 759
Total killed or fatally wounded 2,251
Total wounded in action 1,119


Let it be recorded that there was no sabotage or insurrection in Honolulu or anywhere in Hawaii. It is true that the Federal Bureau of Investigation immediately took into custody suspected enemy agents, including 370 Japanese, 98 Germans, and 14 Italians.

Contrary to the stories printed in some mainland papers there was no organized glutting of roads to Pearl Harbor. In the early stages of the attack no one had any trouble driving from Honolulu to Pearl Harbor although such roads became crowded in due course.

Here it should be mentioned that staff officers and others received telephone calls at Honolulu "to return to the ship immediately; we are under enemy air attack." Commercial radio assisted in this. All complied promptly, although the great majority thought it was a Sunday drill, and that the "boom boom" which they heard (a customary sound on weekdays) was intended to add realism to the drill. Even when entering the Navy Yard on


the way to the boat dock most officers were unbelieving until seeing the wreckage and the burning oil on the waters, and the bottom of Oklahoma in the distance.

The prevalent story of poisoned drinking water was pure fabrication, as was also the story of cutting direction markers in sugar cane fields to indicate the course to Pearl Harbor. Many similar stories were ill-founded.

Martial law was promptly put into force in Honolulu. All except those with military business were off the streets at nine o'clock in the evening. Strict black-out was practiced at night. All women and children except those women holding government jobs were evacuated as soon as ships were available.


There was now no doubt that the Japanese had scored a great victory. Most of the air bases were a shambles and a large part of the fleet was immobilized. The damage done seemed great indeed, and spirits were at a low ebb. On 10 December came the news that Prince of Wales and Repulse had been sunk near Singapore. Two days earlier the air bases in the Philippine Islands were successfully attacked. It did not seem possible at the time that the Japanese could be so victorious.

What if another air raid was made on the fleet and its reserve oil supply or its repair base at the Navy Yard -- or a landing force of the Japanese hit the beaches? Families in Honolulu were indeed in jeopardy and many took to the hills to escape the danger that seemed to threaten.

For several months the Army was unable to guarantee that the islands of the Hawaiian group were safe against successful Japanese landing attack. This included Midway, from which land-based airplanes could operate. Therefore the Navy was forced to consider Pearl Harbor as a base with limited capabilities. With the possibility of Japanese land-based planes near at hand it was decided that Pearl Harbor should be used by the fleet as little as possible, that task forces should stay at sea a maximum of time, that rest and relaxation were things that had to take second place in wartime.




Washington's Response to the Japanese Attack




Washington's Response to the Japanese Attack


When President Roosevelt read the intercepted "purple" messages just prior to Pearl Harbor he remarked: "This means war." He did not foresee a Japanese attack on the Pacific Fleet but he knew that the Government of Japan would rather go to war against the United States, Great Britain, and the Netherlands than give up their alliance with Germany and Italy, or recede from their depredations in China. By now it was easy to anticipate that eventually we would have to go to the assistance of Great Britain against Hitler if freedom was to prevail, but it was hoped that peace in the Pacific would continue until the Atlantic peril was satisfactorily met.

Thus was war thrust upon us, and hindsight proves that the attack on Pearl Harbor, despite its losses, brought the blessings of a nation unified in spirit and purpose and was for us the easiest way to open hostilities with Japan and the Axis Powers. If the United States had not been attacked, the alternatives were a naval attack on the Mandated Islands or a naval excursion into southern Asia. Either would have been hazardous and the military recoiled from the necessity of fighting a long war against such odds with a divided public opinion at home.

The losses at Pearl Harbor seemed staggering at the time. Washington was as surprised as the personnel at Pearl Harbor that the Japanese had decided somewhat inscrutably to attack the Pacific Fleet. Four years of bloody warfare lay ahead and victory over the fanatical "Sons of Heaven" seemed assured, -- at least eventually. The attack on Pearl Harbor proved that the impossible was possible after all.


<p>80-G-32424: Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941. View looking up &quot;Battleship Row&quot; on 7 December 1941, after the Japanese attack. USS Arizona (BB-39) is in the center, burning furiously. To the left of her are USS Tennessee (BB-43) and the sunken USS West Virginia (BB-48). Similar to NH 97378. The spots on this print give a dramatic touch.&nbsp;</p>

USS Arizona burning after the magazine explosion. The ship forward it USS Tennessee which is playing water over the stern to keep oil fires from Arizona at a distance. USS West Virginia is on the far left.


The President lost no time in taking official action against Japan. On 8 December 1941 the President told Congress: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." Congress then declared war on Japan. One vote was cast against the measure by a Congresswoman from Montana. Agreeable to their alliance with Japan, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States four days later. So the United States was at war not only with Japan but with the front-runners of the European War, Germany and Italy.


Almost immediately the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, set out for Pearl Harbor to see at first hand what damage the Japanese had wrought. He remained until Friday the 12th. On his return he had a conference with the President, and held a news conference on the following Monday, 15 December 1941. He lauded the heroic action of the fleet in resisting the


enemy, and gave a number of instances of fearless and intrepid action. Secretary Knox admitted that the attack was a surprise to all concerned. Before leaving Washington for Pearl Harbor he sent a message to all Naval ships and stations. It is quoted because it is so appropriate for all times:

The enemy has struck a savage, treacherous blow. We are at war, all of us! There is no time now for disputes or delay of any kind. We must have ships and more ships, guns and more guns, men and more men -- faster and faster. There is no time to lose. The Navy must lead the way. Speed up -- it is your Navy and your Nation!

Frank Knox
Secretary of the Navy

Although the Japanese took pictures of the damage they had caused, and these pictures were published abroad, Japan was relatively uninformed of the full extent of the damage. As is customary in warfare, the enemy was not told more than he already knows. For that reason Secretary Knox minimized the damage. At that time the fleet in Pearl Harbor felt that the Secretary's report was less than half the truth, -- but time proved that his estimates were excessive and that the full extent of the damage was less than at first visualized. This proves the adage that people are prone to see the worst or pessimistic sides of a situation rather than the best or optimistic aspects.


Official Washington lost no time in appointing a Commission to investigate Pearl Harbor. This was headed by Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts of the United States Supreme Court, a Republican. Three of the members were retired officers of the Army and the Navy while one member was on active duty with the Army Air Corps.

The Commission met as early as 18 December 1941 in the Munitions Building at Washington. After getting statements from the top officers of the Army and Navy it went to Hawaii where it viewed the wreckage and held hearings at Fort Shafter, at the Submarine Base, and at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The Commission received sworn testimony until 10 January 1942. After that it returned to Washington where it received sworn testimony from various Army and Navy officers from 19 January 1942 to 23 January 1942 when the Commission's report was made to the President.

The report to the President disposed of a number of wild rumors, and


included a number of basic facts about the Hawaiian Command. Washington knew the possibility of air raids, and so did Hawaii, but both considered such a circumstance remote. Both were of the firm opinion that collision courses in national interests would result in eventual warfare, but neither considered Japan so desperate or foolhardy as to attack Pearl Harbor.

The Roberts Commission went on record with the following summary and recommendations, among others: "Army preparations were primarily based on fear of sabotage while the Navy's were based on fear of submarine attack. . . . The first surprise attack . . . caught them completely unprepared. It was about four minutes before the first anti-aircraft fire by the Navy began, and as the Army aircraft batteries were not manned nor their mobile units in position it was some time before their anti-aircraft fire became effective. . . . The final results . . . left the Army airfields and the Naval station very badly damaged and resulted in the practical immobilization of the majority of the Navy's battle fleet in the Pacific for months to come, the loss of 75 percent of the Army's air forces on the Islands, and the loss of an even larger percentage of the Navy's air force on Oahu. . . . The loss of life and the number of wounded in this attack is a shocking result of unpreparedness."

The Commission concluded: "This attack has emphasized the completeness of the Naval and Military information in the heads of the Japanese, the meticulous detail of their plans of attack, and their courage, ability and resourcefulness in executing and pressing home their operation. It should serve as a mighty incentive to our defense forces to spare no effort to achieve a final victory."


On 23 February 1942 the President gave a fireside chat to the nation entitled "We Must Keep on Striking our Enemies Wherever and Whenever We Can Meet Them." This was delivered on the day after Washington's Birthday, and the President drew a parallel between Valley Forge of colonial days and the odds which faced the American people of the present. He discounted wild rumors and called attention to the relatively moderate losses which we suffered at Pearl Harbor. Although we had been compelled to yield ground to the enemy he said, "we will regain it. So spoke Americans in 1776, and so speak Americans today!"



The President did not wait for the Roberts report before taking action with regard to Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and Lieutenant General Walter Short. It was traditional in the services that they should be relieved. Their commands had suffered a tragedy, one which was greatly exaggerated in the mind of the public, but nevertheless one which seemed sizable at the time. There was no air reconnaissance to the north on that fateful Sunday. They left their posts with the good wishes of their subordinates. Admiral Kimmel was affectionately regarded in the fleet as an officer of unqualified loyalty and efficiency. His going was deeply regretted, but the nature of things required that he be relieved. Had he remained as Commander-in-Chief he would undoubtedly have proven himself one of the Navy's greatest heroes of all time.

The poisonous rumors that gained credence is illustrated by letters which Mrs. Kimmel received following his departure. The first was from a woman who deprecated the fact that two pregnant women were required to get off the clipper plane to the mainland (planes were very infrequent in those days) to make room for her and her belongings. The nephew of the woman asserted that demands upon the plane's personnel deprived other passengers of the attention which was due them. In the other letter the woman writer said that she had it on good authority that Mrs. Kimmel and Mrs. Short were never invited to the same party because of their conflicting temperaments. To both of these letters Mrs. Kimmel replied that she had never been on a clipper plane and had never been in Hawaii! Too bad that other ill-founded rumors and gossip could not be scotched so easily at the time!

Vice Admiral William S. Pye relieved Admiral Kimmel on 17 December 1941 as temporary Commander of the Fleet. He was number two in the fleet echelon of command and assumed the job as additional duty until a regular relief arrived. Admiral Pye was hard put to decide whether to take action in relieving Wake Island. He had two task forces near enough to the island to subject the Japanese forces to an aircraft carrier raid. But to do so required him to risk the loss of a carrier, which at that stage he could ill afford. Hindsight proves that action even against the land-based planes of the Japanese from the Marshall Islands only about 500 miles away would have been successful. But Wake is nearer to Japan than Hawaii, and holding it would have been impossible without changing the whole complexion of the war which lay ahead. The relief of Wake would have


prevented the capture of military and some 650 civilian personnel which the Japanese took into custody. There were a number of other considerations involved, including the state of the weather, the shortage of fleet oilers, and the lack of loading and unloading facilities at Wake. As it appears now, Admiral Pye acted wisely, about 22 December 1941, in sacrificing the manpower on Wake without risking the loss or crippling of one or more aircraft carriers.


Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, formerly Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, took command on 31 December 1941. He was a fortunate choice for the position. Although he was unknown to the public at that time, his appointment restored public confidence in the abilities of the United States Navy.

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz assumes duties as Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet, 31 December 1941, on board USS Grayling at Pearl Harbor.


He not only got along with all elements of a unified command but proved a strong commander in his quiet sort of way. He was destined to remain in command throughout the war and to be promoted in due course to Fleet Admiral.

Fleet Admiral Nimitz was a plain man who had no use in wartime for furbelows and ruffles. He was non-argumentative, but used his common sense to arrive at decisions which had to be made. He was a good listener, but used his own judgment in making decisions. Here was a man who in due time gained the confidence of all by the sheer demonstration of ability and good will.

Although originally a pessimist in salvage operations, his interest is well illustrated by the fact that for six months he required the Salvage Officer to see him at an appointed time once a week to talk over the progress of the work. Whenever significant salvage operations occurred, such as the entry into dry dock of a ship that once rested on the bottom of Pearl Harbor, he and others in high command were always present to show their interest and to add their prestige to the work.


In order to coordinate the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, the Commander of the Atlantic Fleet was, on 30 December 1941, assigned as the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Fleet. He became the over-all Commander-in-Chief of the Navy under the general direction of the Secretary of the Navy and the President of the United States. Admiral King later became the Chief of Naval Operations as additional duty, when he relieved Admiral Harold R. Stark as the Chief of Naval Operations in March 1942, and eventually was promoted to Fleet Admiral. For the rest of the war Admiral King wore both hats.

Admiral King sent the following message to the Navy shortly after taking the oath as "Cominch:" 

The way to victory is long
The going will be hard
We will do the best we can with what we've got
We must have more planes and ships at once
Then it will be our turn to strike
We will win through in time.


He and Admiral Nimitz made a strong team which operated harmoniously throughout the war. To them island hopping was not new or novel because in their naval warfare they had many islands to contend with and many islands to conquer. These two officers were a portent to our enemies, especially to Japan, that no effort would be spared to bring ultimate unconditional victory.


Since the days of John Paul Jones the Navy had pursued the policy of using the offensive as the best defense. Nimitz was hard put to find means in the Pacific Fleet to take the offensive without undue risk. Obviously we were far inferior to the Japanese, and undue risk was out of the question until the industrial marvel of American production permitted the fleet to sail for Japan's strongholds. Nimitz was under great pressure from Washington, to take the offensive against Japan's Navy. He refused to move until he had sufficient time to size up the situation which confronted him. Then, about the first of February he solved this riddle by the adoption of the "Limited Offensive" policy in directing fleet operations. This policy was inaugurated for the purpose of restoring morale in the Pacific Fleet, of holding the line against any further expansion of Japanese power in the Pacific, of staging raids against the Pacific enemy, of diverting Japanese strength away from the East Indies if possible, and of safeguarding communications to Hawaii, Midway, and Australia.


Admiral Nimitz used the intrepid Vice Admiral William F. Halsey to carry out his policy. On 1 February 1942 Halsey bombed the Marshalls with the Enterprise force while Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher with the Yorktown force bombed the Gilberts. On his way home Halsey struck Wake arid Marcus, the latter only about 600 miles from Japan. Then Fletcher joined Vice Admiral Wilson Brown's Lexington force which bombed Lae and the Solomons as well as the northern coast of New Guinea. The military effect of these raids was not consequential but they proved to the


Japanese that American forces were on the loose and had to be reckoned with. They proved that aircraft carriers were capable of air raids even when the enemy was fully alert.

As early as mid-April 1942, the Halsey-Doolittle team bombed Tokyo and other Japanese cities. This was accomplished with sixteen medium range B-25's launched from the deck of Hornet, commanded by Captain Marc Mitscher. The carrier Enterprise carried Admiral Halsey in command of the expedition which besides the two carriers was composed of the cruisers Nashville and Vincennes, four destroyers, and one oiler. Enterprise maintained air patrol over and in advance of the task force.

The air raid was originally conceived by Captain F. S. Low and Captain Donald Duncan of the Staff of Admiral King in Washington. They with the cooperation of General "Hap" Arnold, who was head of the Army Air Corps, modified the Army B-25's for their mission.

The raid had to take off from a distance of about 650 miles to avoid detection by one of the many Japanese patrol vessels. All of the Ameri-

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942

Lieutenant General James H. Doolittle, USA, and Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, USN, on board USS Hornet.


can pilots landed in China or Russia or in waters near China; the few who were captured by the Japanese in China were imprisoned or put to death. Nevertheless, the raid was successful and served notice on the Japanese as early as April 1942 that even Tokyo was not exempt from American sea and air power.

The President referred to the Halsey-Doolittle air raid as having originated from "Shangri-la." This was released for the benefit of the American public, but primarily for the confusion of the enemy.


Observations and Statements Made By Survivors




Observations and Statements Made By Survivors


On 7 December 1941, all major combatant ships at Pearl Harbor were in condition "X" with two machine guns manned and two 5-inch anti-aircraft guns with ready ammunition and crews near at hand. After the attack began, the ships assumed condition "Y" or "Z" as rapidly as possible. The battleships had been in port for several days and had been refueled. Most of the ships were ninety-five percent full of fuel oil. The degree of closure of water-tight doors and hatches is determined by the conditions named. Condition "X" is the minimum safety condition, while condition "Z" is the battle closure condition. Condition "Y" is between the two. These are usually designated by their alphabetical names, that is "X-ray," "Yoke," and "Zed."

The survivors from the battleships sunk at their berths and the many ships round about furnish ample evidence as to the nature of the various attacks. In summary, many of the battleship survivors considered that a "fire and rescue party" was required because of a disaster at Ford Island before the true nature of events was ascertained. Among the crews, many wondered why a drill was taking place on a Sunday morning.

The cruisers, destroyers, and service vessels some distance away saw the enemy planes earlier and witnessed the torpedo plane attack on the battleships. The impressions held by the various personnel, as well as the actions they took, can best be determined from excerpts of these statements, which are taken from official reports of the engagement. These statements are given here to refute the many irresponsible statements which have been made regarding the behavior of Navy men at Pearl Harbor. The survivors' statements are known to only a few and have not therefore been referred to generally. Some are reproduced here to present a true picture of these important events.


<p>80-G-387572: Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941. Aerial view of &quot;Battleship Row&quot; moorings on the southern side of Ford Island, 10 December 1941, showing damage from the Japanese raid three days earlier. Diagonally, from left center to lower right are: USS Maryland (BB-46), lightly damaged, with the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37) outboard. A barge is alongside Oklahoma, supporting rescue efforts. USS Tennessee (BB-43), lightly damaged, with the sunken USS West Virginia (BB-48) outboard. USS Arizona (BB-39), sunk, with her hull shattered by the explosion of the magazines below the two forward turrets. Note dark oil streaks on the harbor surface, originating from the sunken battleships. Photographed by VJ-1 at an altitude of 3,000 feet and released November 9, 1950.&nbsp;</p>

Aerial view of Battleship Row. From left to right: Arizona, Tennessee (inboard) and West Virginia, Maryland and Oklahoma (capsized).


Lieutenant C. V. Ricketts wrote as follows:

At about 0755 on 7 December, 1941, I was sitting at breakfast table in the wardroom when assembly was sounded and the fire and rescue party called away. Almost immediately thereafter, as I was leaving the wardroom, general quarters was sounded. As I went up the ladder to the starboard side of the quarter deck, I heard the word being passed by word of mouth that, "The Japs are attacking." As I reached the quarterdeck I felt the ship being hit. She was shaken some but I was not knocked from my feet. I thought then that instead of actual hits the vibration might be caused by bombs falling close aboard. I went up the starboard side of the boat deck to the antiaircraft battery which was being manned. Ensign Hunter was present on the starboard battery and I told him to open fire as soon as possible. Ensign Hunter, incidentally, was attached to the five inch anti-aircraft battery and that was his regularly assigned battle station. Ensign Graham, who is also in the anti-aircraft battery, was present during the firing although I do not remember giving him any actual orders or seeing him at that time. I then


Rear Admiral Claude V. Ricketts, USN

Admiral Claude V. Ricketts, USN.

went to the Fire Control tower as I was the senior officer in the gunnery department aboard. The tower was locked so we broke it open. The Captain then appeared and as the ship was listing rapidly to port and I knew probably few C&R officers were aboard I said, "Captain, shall I go below and counterflood?" He replied, "Yes, do that." I went down through times


square where I picked up Billingsley, B.M.1/c, to help. We went to the main deck and aft on the starboard side and down to the second deck through the escape scuttle in the hatch in front of the Executive Officer's Office. The hatches in this vicinity were closed with escape scuttles open. Wounded were being brought up the hatches forward. The ship was now listing so heavily that on the linoleum decks it was impossible to walk without holding on to something. I reached the third deck by the ladder at frame 87 starboard and went forward to the first group of counterflood valves. Billingsley went aft and got a crank for operating the valves. When he came back Rucker and Bobick, shipfitters from Repair III, came with him. Billingsley and I started B-163 counterflooding while the other men assisted at other valves. When I was assured that counterflooding was well underway, I told Rucker to counterflood everything on the starboard side until the ship was on an even keel. It was not long before the excessive list to port began to decrease. Rucker told me later that he had not previously received any orders to counterflood but he and Bobick decided that they should anyway and they actually opened the valves to two voids in Repair III. This action on their part, in my opinion, showed excellent initiative and judgment.

I then went to the anti-aircraft battery on the boat deck and found that all ammunition from the ready boxes had been expended. I went to times

<p>80-G-32726: Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. USS West Virginia (BB 48) and USS Tennessee (BB 43) are shown after the attack.&nbsp;</p>

Dense smoke frames USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee.


square and formed an ammunition train, opening hatches as necessary. However, when the hatch to the third deck A-420 was opened we found it to be flooded. This hatch was again closed and further attempts to obtain ammunition were abandoned. Ensign Ford, who was assisting me in this attempt, then very properly used the ammunition train and other personnel available to evacuate the wounded from the second deck.

When all the men had left and Lieutenant (jg) White was on the line, I went down the fire hose to the crane. From that time on until relief fire fighting parties arrived we fought the fire on the boat deck starboard casemates, and port side of the main deck forward. Ensigns Hine, Hazelton, Lombardi, Graham, and some others did excellent work in this fire fighting.

The personnel that worked with me on the bridge I cannot commend too highly. They carried out every order promptly and enthusiastically, even when it meant danger to themselves. They did not attempt to abandon the bridge until ordered to do so. These personnel were: Lieutenant (jg) F. H. White, Ensign V. Delano, Siewart, A. A., C.S.M., Leak, L. N. CPhM., and Miller, D., Matt.2/c. Two or three other men, signalmen I believe, were also present. Lieutenant (jg) F. H. White is to be especially commended for his great help, many suggestions, and disregard of personal danger. Ensign Graham and Ensign Lombardi provided us a means of escape by passing us lines from the starboard crane and by directing the fire fighting on the after side of the mast structure.

The Captain deserves the highest praise for his noble conduct to the last. Although in great pain he kept inquiring about the condition of the ship, whether or not we had any pumps running, etc. He was particularly concerned about the fires on board and the oil on the surface of the water. I assured him that everyone was doing everything possible to fight the fire and control the damage. He did not want to be moved and after the fire started, kept insisting that we leave him and go below. For a short time after he was wounded it would have been possible to lower him down, but his wound was so serious I knew that he would be better off with as little handling as possible. Leak concurred with me in this opinion. However, when the fire broke out around the after part of the bridge structure I moved him regardless because of the suffocating smoke and the approaching fire. 

The Executive Officer, Commander R. H. Hillenkoetter, the senior surviving officer of West Virginia wrote: 

I was in my cabin just commencing to dress, when at 0755 the word was passed "Away Fire and Rescue Party." This was followed about thirty seconds later by "General Quarters"; at the same time, 0755, the marine orderly rushed into the cabin and announced, "The Japanese are attacking us." Also, just at this time two heavy shocks on the hull of the West Virginia were felt. It seemed as if these shocks were somewhere forward on the port side.


By this time I had reached the Quarterdeck, and the ship was beginning to list rapidly to port. I proceeded along the starboard side until just forward of Number Three Turret, when there was a third heavy shock felt to port. The planes on top of Turret Three caught on fire, and there were flames all around the Turret Top. The quarterdeck sentry informed me that the Captain had already gone to the bridge, so I remained aft to assist the extinguishing of the fire around Turret Three and on the quarterdeck. There was another heavy explosion at this time, that threw me flat on the deck. During all this time the ship was continuing to list to port, and at the time of this latest shock, I should estimate that the list was about 20° or 25° (this is purely an estimate). I called to the sound power telephone watch to tell Central to counterflood, but do not know whether or not this word got through.

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

USS Argonne fighting fires on West Virginia.

Immediately following this latest explosion, I saw a flash of flame about fifteen feet high somewhere forward on the ARIZONA and had just gotten to my feet again when there was a terrific flash of flame from the ARIZONA, this second flash being higher than the foretop. Burning debris of sizes from a fraction of an inch up to five inches in diameter rained on the quarterdeck of the WEST VIRGINIA.


During all of the above the ship's batteries continued firing, and shortly after the ARIZONA explosion, the list on the WEST VIRGINIA stopped and she gradually started to right herself: Meanwhile, efforts to push overboard the burning embers on the quarterdeck and to extinguish the fire on top of Turret Three and in the planes was continued. There was another heavy shock, distinguishable from the shock of the ship's own guns firing, and it was reported that a large fire had broken out amidships. I went into the deck-house and found the repair parties already working against a fire, but without much success, as the fire increased by leaps and bounds. At this time, a Telephone Talker said "Central Station says Abandon Ship." As it was evident the fire fighting party had no chance to extinguish the fire, they were ordered to leave the ship. The fire had by then, from all appearances, from aft, isolated the after and forward parts of the ship. I went out on the port side of the quarterdeck, and seeing no boats on that side went over to the starboard side. By this time the stern of the TENNESSEE was burning, and a wall of flame was advancing toward the WEST VIRGINIA and the TENNESSEE from oil on the water from the ARIZONA. I looked around and saw no one else aft on deck and then I dove overboard and swam to the TENNESSEE. On getting on deck of the TENNESSEE I found about ten WEST VIRGINIA people gathered under the overhang of the TENNESSEE's Number Three Turret. As the TENNESSEE people were busily engaged in fire fighting but in no need of any extra help, I took the WEST VIRGINIA people over the starboard side on to the pipe-line to help in extinguishing the fire that had started in the rubbish and trash and oil covered water between the TENNESSEE and Ford Island. Several of our people that were hurt were loaded into a truck and taken to the dispensary. I then brought the truck back to that part of Ford Island opposite the TENNESSEE and kept on with efforts to exstinguish the fires among the trash and oil on the water. More and more WEST VIRGINIA personnel kept arriving at this point, some by swimming, some by hanging on to wreckage, and, I think one whaleboat load.

* * * * *

Lieutenant C. V. Ricketts, the Senior Gunnery Officer aboard, and regular Second Battery Control Officer, who, as his battery was not firing, busied himself with aiding the Damage Control Officer in counter-flooding, in caring for the Captain when wounded, in attempting to get additional ammunition to the Anti-aircraft battery, and was unsparing of himself in his efforts during the action and during the fire-fighting which followed.

Lieutenant F. H. White, D-V(G), U.S.N.R., who, aided by Miller, Doris, Mess Attendant second class, U.S. Navy, was instrumental in hauling people along through oil and water to the quarterdeck, thereby unquestionably saving the lives of a number of people who might otherwise have been lost.

* * * * *


<p>80-G-32422: Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Sailors in motor launches trying to rescue sailors from the water from USS West Virginia (BB 48).&nbsp;</p>

National ensign flying from stern of USS West Virginia.

Because the above named people are particularly mentioned, it must not be construed that the actions and work of their shipmates and associates was any less valuable or less courageous. The entire ship's company is deserving of the highest commendation, both for their work on December 7th and on the days following. All the ship's company, officers and men, ask is another chance at the enemy. Their devotion to duty and their performance of duty have given new meanings to those phrases.


Lieutenant Commander William M. Hobby, Jr., wrote as follows:

On the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, the OKLAHOMA was secured at berth F-5, Pearl Harbor, outboard of the MARYLAND and starboard side of the MARYLAND. Commander J. L. Kenworthy was senior officer on board, and I was second in command. At about 0800 I heard the word over the loud speaker to man the anti-aircraft battery, then shots from an indeterminate direction, then a second time the word to man the antiaircraft battery for a real attack. As I was going topside the word was passed to man all battle stations. I ran up the starboard side out to the main deck


aft by the break of the deck. Before I reached the main deck aft there was a din of gunfire and explosions from all directions.

I started up the ladder from the main deck aft to the anti-aircraft gun platform on the starboard side; at this point I felt what I believe was the first torpedo hit -- a dull thud and a powerful reverberation, on the port side, and the ship began listing to port. I started back down with the idea of getting to Central and directing the flooding of the starboard blisters, but almost immediately there was a second torpedo hit and then a third and the ship listed more; at this time streams of men were pouring up through hatches to the topside. A second or so later, at about the time I was back down to the main deck aft again, came the fourth torpedo hit, and the ship continued to list to port -- at least a twenty degree list at this time, I estimate, and still listing. I directed petty officers near me to spread out over the length of the ship and keep the men as orderly and calm as possible. I sighted Commander Kenworthy on the starboard catwalk and made my way to him and told him that I thought the best now was to save as many men as possible, that it was now impossible to make further watertight closures and establish any further watertight integrity. He agreed and we both passed the word to abandon ship. I called to men on main deck aft to attempt to get to work on the loud speaker.

Although there were now hundreds of men on the starboard side, the general conduct of all hands was quiet and calm. There was an explosion around the port side of the forecastle, which I thought was a bomb hit. I worked my way forward and Commander Kenworthy worked his way aft. There was another shock and concussion and vibration and fuel oil splashed in streams over everything topside. This was either another torpedo hit or a large bomb hit close aboard. The ship continued to list over to port, now about 30 degrees, or more, I thought. I entered # 1 casemate to see about the escape of men from below to topside. Men were still coming out through casemates, and thence out through gun. ports to the catwalk and onto the side. When no more men were to be seen in casemates, I climbed up through a gun port and out over the side; the ship was capsizing and the angle was about 90 degrees. I pulled myself along the side and bottom as the vessel keeled over; the ship finally settled when the mast and stack apparently hit bottom, with an angle of approximately 145 degrees, starboard side uppermost.

I sat on the bottom at about frame 60; hundreds of men were along the hull making their way to the water's edge. Keenum C. W., CBM, joined me and rendered much aid in steadying the men and directing them to swim to the MARYLAND, to the Ford Island Landing, or to a motor launch, depending on the location of the men. The air attack continued and bombs were dropping nearby, but none struck the OKLAHOMA after she capsized. All men who reached the topside were apparently saved, swimming either to the MARYLAND, the shore, or to a motor launch. There were many cases.


<p>80-G-32741: Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. The capsized USS Oklahoma (BB 37) and USS Maryland (BB 46) are shown after the attack.&nbsp;</p>

USS Oklahoma. Thirty-one men were rescued by the working force cutting holes through the bottom. USS Maryland it on the right.

of men aiding others to swim, and in some cases actually towing them to shore or the MARYLAND or a boat. The general conduct of the crew continued to be excellent.

I saw the OKLAHOMA officers and men who boarded the MARYLAND go to the MARYLAND anti-aircraft battery and aid in the anti-aircraft fire on the MARYLAND. I saw Boatswain Bothne acting as coxswain of a motor launch and picking up men and taking them to Ford Island landing. After all others had cleared the hull of the ship, as far as we could see, Keenum and I made our way out to the bow. I discarded shoes and uniform, expecting to swim in, at this juncture Boatswain Bothne approached in a motor launch, having already landed one load of men. There were about fifty men in this second load. Keenum and I entered the motor launch. The boat made the dock and unloaded all but Boatswain Bothne, four men, and myself. OKLAHOMA men on the dock were handling lines of a tanker which was getting underway, and some of them boarded the tanker upon being told that the tanker needed more men to go out on her. Other men on the dock were asking where they could go to aid in anti-aircraft fire; all seemed to be thinking of how to fight rather than seeking safety.

I remained in the motor launch, and with Boatswain Bothne and four men patrolled up and down the line facing the OKLAHOMA, WEST VIRGINIA, and ARIZONA, looking for survivors to pick up from the water. By this time it appeared that all men had reached shore and the water


was clear of men. We patrolled for about twenty minutes (estimated), until it seemed that the attack was over, or at least that no more bombs were being dropped that we could see, and we could see no more enemy planes. Then we took the motor launch across the harbor to the Mine Dock landing. Here were survivors, other boards, and Navy Yard personnel along the dock. A truck driver volunteered to drive those of us without clothes to the Receiving Station for clothes. We drove there, and I obtained dungarees, shoes and a white sailor's hat. Then the truck returned me to the landing. I commandeered a motor boat and returned to the hull of the OKLAHOMA: Others were on the OKLAHOMA and still more were coming aboard as I arrived. With several men I went over the hull discussing possibilities of salvaging those still alive inside. Commander Kranzfelder, Lieutenant Commander Benson, Lieutenant Commander Henderson were now on the hull. Also Boatswain Bothne and twenty or thirty men from the OKLAHOMA who had returned. I believe that all returned at approximately the same time. Thenceforth we concentrated on salvage work for the rescue of survivors trapped inside. I remained on the hull or inside the hull for the next sixty hours as senior OKLAHOMA officer on salvage work. A detailed report of salvage work is submitted as a separate report.

Boatswain A. M. Bothne wrote:

About 0800 December 7, I was on the after end of the superstructure deck. The first indication I had of the attack was when Hilton, BM1/c started to call for the sixth division men to man the anti-aircraft battery. I saw three torpedoes hit the OKLAHOMA, one forward at about frame 35 or 40. The ship started to list immediately when the first torpedo hit. After the third torpedo hit the ship listed to an angle of about 45 degrees. All lines to the MARYLAND were still holding with about 150 or 200 men sitting on the starboard blister ledge. The ship seemed to be stationary in that position for a short interval when another torpedo hit the port side, then the lines to the MARYLAND carried away and the OKLAHOMA rolled on over to about 135 degrees. I swam out to #3 motor launch and started rescuing the men who were left on the edge of the hull.

The fire burned around the CALIFORNIA and was extinguished. With the aid of a water barge and tug #31 the fire around the WEST VIRGINIA was brought under control. I then noticed activity on the bottom of the OKLAHOMA and reported to Lieutenant Commander Hobby to aid in rescue and salvage work.

Chief Machinist, Second Class, W. F. Staff wrote as follows:

Sunday morning at 0750 on 7 December 1941, I was in the Carpenter Shop when the general alarm was sounded. I immediately went along the starboard side of the third deck to my battle station. I felt several explosions


on the way to Repair II. When I got to Repair II I took my phones and went to get a flashlight but they were locked up so I went on down to A-28, the forward air compressor room, and started to set Zed.

There was an electricians mate and a fireman also Centers, J.P., MM2/c and myself in the compartment. When the lights went out the fireman and electricians mate started to go out the zed hatch which had been set by repair II; they were yelling and screaming. Water and fuel oil was coming down the hatch. I tried to stop them from opening the hatch but couldn't.

The next thing we knew we were all under water and oil. Centers and myself were the only ones that came up.

It took us some time in the dark to find out that we were back in A-28 and the ship had capsized.

We then tried to get into the linen storeroom. It was on the starboard side and was out of the water. A-28 was about half full of oil and water. The storeroom was locked and it took several hours to beat the lock off with a wrench that we found on the air compressor. We could not get into the storeroom as gear must have wedged against the door.

We tried to get into a small storeroom which was on the overhead, but it was also locked and we could not get into position to beat the lock off.

About Monday noon we heard tapping and we answered them. After so long they were right overhead and we could hear them talking. When they started to cut into us it let out our air and we were under air pressure; the water came up as our air escaped.

The water came up and ran out the hole they were cutting and they left. But we still had about six inches of air space.

We tried the linen room again and it gave a little. Apparently the water had cleared the gear from the door, we went in and started tapping again.

The rescuers soon got out to us again and we left the ship at 0200 Tuesday morning.

I wish to thank these men for their hard work in rescuing us: Keenum, CBM, Thomas, SF1c, and Harris CM2c.


Aviation Machinist's Mate, Third Class M. T. Hurst wrote as follows:

When the attack on Pearl Harbor began on December 7, 1941, I was on the quarter deck smoking a cigarette. The first bit of excitement I noticed was the Officer-of-the-Deck and the Junior O. D. standing near the Admiral's gangway, pointing and looking west toward Ford Island. Out of curiosity I went over to the life line to see what everyone was looking at. I saw a large column of smoke going up into the air. At this time the O.O.D. told the boatswain's mate of the watch to sound general alarm which he did


<p>80-G-32608: Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. USS Arizona (BB 39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 9 December 1941.&nbsp;</p>

Rescue party alongside Arizona.

on the double. At the time I thought there was a fire on one of the ships or the air station so I went up into # 5 casemate to see what was going on.

It was now that the first word was said about an air attack and then everyone seemed to think it was the Army having a mock attack. I watched several planes sweep over Ford Island and when one went over our fantail I saw the red spot on the wing. Our guns then opened up and it first struck me that we were being attacked. I then went back on the quarter deck and just as I reached the armor deck, general quarters was sounded. My general quarters station was not down there so I started back up the ladder which was made a little difficult by a marine officer fighting his way below.

When I reached main deck there was a fire in the Executive Officer's office. Lane, an aviation radioman, Burns, our yeoman, and I started to get a hose to fight the fire. At this time a fire broke out on the quarter deck, and we dragged the hose out there. Lane screwed on the nozzle while I went to turn on the water at the plug forward of #3 turret.

A bomb then hit somewhere forward of me and knocked me down. I finished turning on the water and started out to where I was to help Lane, but he was no longer there. I noticed there was no water coming out of the nozzle so I started to go forward and saw many marines and sailors lying about the deck badly burned. I tried to help one but he was pretty well blown up.

Someone yelled, "Get out of here," so I picked up someone and started to carry him off. Someone said to let him go since he was dead. It was pretty hot then and several men were running around badly burned, so with


a couple of other fellows, one of them Burns, I helped to get these men over to the life line and told them to go over the side. I then went over to the blister and jumped into the water. I was near a mooring quay so I went under it and took off my pants and socks. My shoes got separated from me some place. From there I swam to the motor launch tied up along side of the quay. Someone helped me out onto the quay. Then we were all busy for some time helping others out and putting injured into the launch. The launch was going to the SOLACE so when it started pulling away I dove over the side and started to swim to Ford Island. It was the farthest and fastest swim I have ever made. Upon reaching land we were directed to the bomb shelter where I remained until taken over to the Receiving Barracks. I stayed there until coming to Ford Island.

It should be explained that each ship was moored to two quays which were near Ford Island. Most of the men called them "keys" and the statements of survivors often refer to them as keys.

Seaman First Class w. W. Parker wrote as follows:

On December 7, 1941, about 7:50 a.m. I was on the blister top of the USS ARIZONA when a squadron of Japanese dive bombers began to bomb the air-drome on Ford Island. I stood there a few minutes and watched, thinking it was a bombing practice. Air raid sirens began to blow. I went up to the battery on the double time and manned gun one. After one round, the gun captain ordered us to take cover when they began strafing us with machine gun fire. All took cover with the exception of three of us who kept on firing. We still did not understand what was taking place. Then we saw the WEST VIRGINIA torpedoed. Next, we saw a flight of horizontal bombers that began to drop their bombs. One bomb hit in front of the forward turret. We think it went down in the magazine for the whole forward part of the ship blew up and caught fire. One of the other men and I must have been blown over the side of the galley deck. About that time a bomb went down the stack. That's all I remember until I was on the quarter deck and aware that they were taking men from the quay over to Ford Island in whaleboats. About that time all the ships were getting organized and were putting up a heavy barrage of fire. The Japanese planes were not doing so good then for they were being driven off. I saw four or five planes shot down. There were two planes shot down by our machine gunners who were on security watch on the ARIZONA. None of the ammunition we fired exploded in the air; why I do not know unless it was because the fuse was not set. This is all I can actually say that I saw.

Ensign H. D. Davison wrote as follows:

It was just before colors, in fact I had already sent the messenger down to make the 8 o'clock reports to the Captain. Then I heard a dive bomber


USS Arizona (BB-39)

Arizona sunk.

attack from overhead. I looked through my spyglass and saw the red dots on the wings. That made me wonder but I still couldn't believe it until I saw some bombs falling. The first one hit up by the air Station. I sounded the air raid alarm and notified the Captain. The Captain and Lieutenant Commander Fuqua came on deck, and the Captain went on up to the bridge. Mr. Fuqua told me to sound General Quarters. About that time we took a bomb hit on the starboard side of the quarterdeck, just about abreast of #4 turret. We grabbed the men available and started dropping the hatches and leading out hose on the quarterdeck.

About this time, the planes that had made the initial dive bomb attack strafed the ship. Mr. Fuqua and I told all hands to get in the marine compartment. It was reported to us that we had a bomb in the executive officer's office. Mr. Fuqua told me to call the center engine room and get pressure on the fire mains. Then he went up to the boat deck. I told the boatswain's mate of the watch to do that. Then I went into the O.D.'s booth to do it myself. Just after I stepped in the booth we took another hit which seemed to be on the starboard side of the quarterdeck just about frame 88. The boatswain's mate and I were trapped in the booth by the flames. We started out of the booth, trying to run through the flame aft on the quarter deck. We could not get through so we went over the lifeline into the water. I was conscious of a sweetish sickening smell to the flame.

After I got in the water my first intention was to go to the quay and then onto the quarterdeck or to swim to the gangway and get aboard. But


after I took one look at the ship, I decided that it was useless. She had settled down by the bow and appeared broken in two. The foremast was toppled over, she was a mass of flames from the forecastle to just forward of turret #3. I was helped into a motor launch by Ensign Bush and another man. Then we in turn took the motor launch and picked up as many survivors as we could find in the water. We took them over to the landing at Ford Island. There we were met by Air Station Marines who helped us. . . . Ensign Bush and I took the barge which had come up and took it back over alongside the quarterdeck where we gathered another load of injured. Upon our return to Ford Island we noticed three more boats alongside the ARIZONA so we proceeded to the air raid shelter. Then I went up to the dispensary for first aid treatment.


Lieutenant Commander M. N. Little, First Lieutenant and Acting Commanding Officer wrote as follows :

About 0750 or 0755, Sunday, December 7, 1941, I was working in my office when I heard a series of explosions followed by the word passed over the loud speaker system, "Air Raid! Air Raid! Seek Shelter! Seek Shelter!" I rushed from my office and as I reached the door the general alarm was sounded. I paused long enough to order Baldwin, R. M., my Chief Yeoman, to assume command of the Damage Control personnel in Central Station and tell him that I was going to the bridge to take command. I then ran up to the conning tower on the emergency platform. Enroute I noticed several dark gray planes with red wing markings attacking the moored line of battleships. As I reached the emergency platform I heard several heavy explosions and looking aft saw large columns of water arising along the ships moored abaft the CALIFORNIA. I entered the conning tower and found it already partially manned. Lieutenant Fritschmann was in control of the ship's armament I ordered him to complete the manning of the A. A. Battery as soon as possible, to get up ammunition, and open fire on any enemy planes sighted. I then ordered Main Control to make preparations for getting underway and Central Station to have repair parties set conditions YOKE and ZED throughout the ship.

I next stepped out on the emergency platform and walked around the superstructure in order to see whether I could sight planes attacking from any direction. Within a few minutes I saw a low flying plane approach from the direction of Merry Point, bank steeply and launch a torpedo. The bubble track of the torpedo was clearly visible as it headed for us and struck the ship somewhere slightly abaft the port beam about frame 100. As the torpedo exploded a heavy column of water arose alongside the port side


Pearl Harbor Raid, 7 Decmeber 1941

Battleship Row at the time of the attack.


and the ship lurched and began to list to port. I returned to the conning tower where I informed central station that we had been struck by a torpedo on the port quarter in Repair III area and directed Baldwin to counterflood starboard voids as necessary to reduce the list and restrict it to four degrees or less, at the same time cautioning him to watch the draft and not to flood so many voids that he would be in danger of sinking the ship.

I spent the next ten or fifteen minutes alternately in the conning tower checking the progress of counterflooding operations with Central Station and on the emergency platform observing the efforts of the personnel to procure ammunition. There was none available to the A. A. Battery except that in ready boxes on the ready guns and at the time of the first torpedo hit ammunition from the magazines had not been received by the battery. Lieutenant Fritschmann assured me that every effort was being made to get the ammunition supply functioning and I refrained from disturbing him by repeated questioning. After the first torpedo hit it was reported that power was lost on the A. A. hoists and I directed that the ammunition supply be started using hand power. Central Station had reported that counterflooding was in progress and the list had apparently been checked, at least temporarily, when the second torpedo struck.

Sue Grosz Collection

Oil fires approaching USS California.


I caught only a glimpse through the conning tower eye port of the track of the second torpedo as it approached but believed that it had struck forward of amidships, about abeam of turret II. I notified Central Station of this second torpedo hit and ordered further counterflooding as necessary to restrict the list of the ship but again cautioned Baldwin not to flood so many voids that he would sink the ship. I also ordered that I be informed of the damage when it was ascertained. The OKLAHOMA which was moored astern of us outboard of the MARYLAND was already listing heavily and was obviously about to capsize. At this time I was more concerned about the possible danger of the ship capsizing than of sinking. I soon received a report from Central Station that further voids were being counterflooded and a report from Lieutenant Fritschmann that the ammunition supply was functioning, although slowly. The list after the second torpedo hit had increased markedly and was about six or seven degrees but apparently checked at that point so I took advantage of the lull to order Lieutenant Commander Eckhoff who was also in the conning tower with me, to assume direction of activities on the Bridge while I took a quick turn about the ship to see personally how matters were going.

I then took a quick turn around the Casemates and Boat Deck. In the course of this round I noted that the personnel on the various stations were on the whole, cool and collected and eager to have ammunition so they could fight back in the event of a reoccurrence of the attack. After the round of the gun stations I returned to the emergency platform outside of the Conning Tower a few moments before the commencement of the bombing attack.

Just before the bombing attack on this ship Commander Stone, the Executive Officer, appeared on the bridge, having returned to the ship from shore leave at 0845. I informed him of the situation and he thereupon assumed command.

Shortly after Commander Stone's arrival the bombing attack commenced. I was still with him when what appeared to be a whole stick of bombs landed on our starboard side in the water between the ship and the shore. A few seconds later the ship was hit by a bomb amidships on the starboard side. There was a heavy explosion below decks followed by light smoke from the starboard side and later heavy smoke. This bombing was followed by strafing with machine guns. Such guns of our battery as had ammunition and could bear were in action. I informed Central of the bomb hit amidships and ordered Repair I to report to the scene. There appeared to be several recurrent waves of strafing attacks but no further bombing.

I returned to the Captain who was on the Emergency Platform and gave him a brief summary of the damage at that time insofar as I knew it. From there I went to the quarterdeck intending to enter the main deck and reach the scene of the fire which was then raging on the starboard side in the interior of the ship. I undogged the door on the starboard side of the quarter-


deck leading into the main deck but was met by a rush of heavy smoke and heat so intense that it was impossible to enter the compartment. I closed the door and started to enter the Crew's Reception Room hoping to get in that way but found the same conditions existing there. The 2JZ talker of Repair I had left the Crew's Reception Room and was crouched on the platform of the officers' ladder leading from the quarterdeck to the boat deck where his telephone lead would reach. I asked him if he still had Central Station and he said yes that Baldwin wanted to speak with me. Baldwin informed me that he had lost communication with all repair parties save Repair I. I inquired whether Central was intact and personnel safe and he said yes everything was all right there.

I started across to the port side intending to try again to get inside to the main deck but upon my arrival there noted that the fire on the next ship astern had worked down to the oil which formed a heavy coating on the surface of the water and was coming down rapidly toward the CALIFORNIA with the wind which was blowing a fresh breeze from that direction. I returned to the Emergency Platform where I pointed out the approaching fire to the Captain. He left me presumably to confer with Admiral Pye who was aboard by this time and was on the Flag Bridge. Upon his return a few minutes later the Captain directed the Executive Officer to order the crew to abandon ship.

I went immediately to the Conning Tower where I had the JA talker direct Baldwin in Central to order all repair parties to abandon ship and Baldwin himself to evacuate Central Station with the personnel therein via

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

California engulfed by oil fires.


the Conning Tower tube. When I saw that the tube was open and the personnel of Central Station on their way up I left the Conning Tower and went to the forecastle, where I stood by and directed the men to slide down to the Mooring lines to the quay rather than to jump or dive into the water. As the fire came forward on the port side of the CALIFORNIA I slid down one of the mooring lines to the quay where I remained temporarily. Fire passed down the port side setting many fires on the weather decks but the ship as a whole did not catch fire. Seeing that the fire was passing I swam over from the quay to the dredge pontoons and went inshore to where a large group of men were gathered at the water's edge and ordered them to return to the ship in an attempt to salvage her. I myself returned to the quay in a punt and climbed up the mooring lines to the deck where I started to organize the personnel to fight the fires still burning amidships and to prevent the ship from sinking or capsizing.

As I spent most of the time during the actual engagement either on the Emergency Platform or in the Conning Tower I did not witness any acts of extraordinary heroism or bravery because there was no opportunity for such display. On the other hand every man whom I observed was manning his station and performing his duties with coolness and without fear in entire disregard of any danger to which he might be subject. Of the performance of duty of all members of the damage control organization both during the action and in the subsequent rescue work thereto I cannot speak too highly. I cannot single out anyone individual from this group for special mention without doing an injustice to all the others. As described by the reports of their leaders the work of all members of the damage control organization was most gratifying and praiseworthy, fully in keeping with the highest traditions of the service.

Private A. E. Senior, U.S. Marine Corps, wrote as follows:

When General Quarters was sounded I went to my battle station, 5 inch/51 Gun #8 in Casemate #8 on the port side. The Battery Officer then asked for volunteers to go below for gas masks. I volunteered, but we could not get down to the storeroom where the masks were stored, so we returned to our gun stations. Again the Battery Officer asked for two volunteers to go below and haul 5 inch/25 A. A. ammunition to the topside because the hoists were out of commission. We went down through the escape hatch in Casemate #6, through the Division Compartment, and finally through the hatch on the starboard side to the 'C-L' Division Compartment. This is where ammunition was being taken out of the hoist which was being operated by hand in the handling room. It was being passed from there to the topside by hand: It was here, at this time that I first saw Ensign H. C. Jones. He was standing on the third deck at the foot of the ladder directing the hand passing of ammunition up the ladder. In passing the ammunition, I was at the top of the ladder from the handling room, and


Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

Tugs assisting in rescue and salvage near California.

only one man was between myself and Ensign Jones. We had been down there about fifteen or twenty minutes when the bomb hit on the starboard side of the ship. The only light we had was blown out when the bomb hit. When it hit, the compartment filled with smoke and I reached for my gas mask, which I had layed on top of a shell box behind me, and put it on. Then someone said, "Mr. Jones has been hit" so I flashed the flashlight I had on Ensign Jones' face and it was all bloody. His white coat also had blood allover it. Two other men and myself took a hold of Mr. Jones and started up the ladder with him. We got him as far as the M Division Compartment. Then he wouldn't let us carry him any farther. When we tried to he said, "leave me alone, I'm done for. Get out of here before the magazines go off." Then there was another shock from below and that's the last I remember until they were pulling me up through the escape hatch in Casemate # 3.


There are only a few survivor's reports from Utah, which was a former battleship converted to a target ship. One of the best was written by the Acting Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander S. S. Isquith, which is as follows:


On Sunday, December 7, 1941, while moored at Berth FOX-11, Pearl Harbor, T. H., 3 planes whose identification were not questioned but taken for U.S. planes maneuvering, were observed just as colors were being hoisted at 0800, heading northerly from the harbor entrance. They made a low dive on the southern end of Ford Island and each dropped a bomb.

Immediately thereafter the air was filled with planes clearly distinguished as yellow colored planes with brilliant red Rising Sun insignia on fuselage and red wing tips, flying low at about 100 knots speed and dropping aerial torpedoes and bombs. They appeared to be Henkle 113, or similar type, with very silent engines. The general alarm was immediately rung and word was passed, "All hands to bombing quarters." About this time, 0801, a severe underwater hit, at approximately frame 84, port side, was felt and the ship immediately commenced to list to port. Another underwater hit was felt almost immediately thereafter in about the same general location and the listing of the ship increased immediately to about 15 degrees. At this time I realized that the ship would capsize and word was passed. "All hands on deck and all engineroom and fireroom, radio and dynamo watch to lay up on deck and release all prisoners."

All hands were ordered to the starboard side, which was the high side, to escape danger of loose timbers pinning men down. Word was passed for all hands to equip themselves with life jackets but due to the fact that the life jackets were stored in canvas bags in the aircastle, it was not practicable for many men to obtain life jackets due to miscellaneous gear stored in the starboard aircastle moving and a bomb explosion in the port aircastle which took place at that time. At about this time the engine room reported that steam had dropped and that they were unable to cut in the drain pumps, that the port engine room was flooded and that the starboard engine room was taking water rapidly, the water at that time being above the high pressure turbine and reduction gear. The lights were still on in the engine room. The engine room watch cleared the starboard engine room. No. 2 fireroom, No. 4 boiler steaming, reported steam dropping rapidly and additional burner cut in to hold steam. The second hit put out all fires. The fireroom watch then abandoned the fireroom, closed the quick closing fuel oil valve, leaving the auxiliary feed pumps operating but slowing down due to lack of steam.

By about 0805, the ship had listed to about 40 degrees to port. Lights were still on. No report had been received from the dynamo room; word was again passed. "All hands on deck and abandon ship over starboard side." The crew commenced getting over the side, the ship continuing to list but somewhat slower. The attacking planes were now returning from a northerly direction flying low and strafing the crew as they abandoned ship. The loose timbers about the decks were moving to port, interfering greatly with the efforts of the crew to abandon ship.

Observing the strafing and the moving of the timbers and loose gear in


the aircastles, I directed that the crew divide into three groups, one group going up the ladder leading from the starboard aircastle to the Captain's cabin, one going up the ladder from the starboard wardroom country to the passage inboard of the Captain's stateroom, and one going up the ladder leading from the starboard wardroom country near the wardroom pantry to the forecastle. A large number of these men escaped through the ports in the Captain's cabin.

Lieutenant (jg) P. F. Hauck, Machinist S. A. Szymanski, and myself were the last to leave the ship going through the ports in the Captain's cabin. At this time, about 0810, the ship was listing about 80 degrees to port and planes were still strafing the ship. Mooring lines were parting and two motor launches and the motor whale boat were picking up men in the water. Many men were observed swimming to the north and south quays of Pier FOX-11, and as planes were still strafing, the men were ordered to the sides of the quays for some protection.

At about 0812, the last mooring lines had parted and the ship was capsized, the keel plainly showing. All men picked up by ship's boats were taken ashore to Ford Island and boats were ordered to return and pick up any men still swimming about.

On reaching shore on Ford Island, all hands were ordered into the trenches that had been dug there for some Public Works Project, in order to protect themselves from the strafing planes. Noting that many men were injured and wounded, Commander G. H. Larson, (MC), U.S. Navy, with Kerns, Jean W., HS1/c, U.S. Naval Reserve, who had brought a first aid kit ashore with him, set up a first aid station in the quarters of Lieutenant Church (CEC), Building No. 118, Ford Island. Commander Larson, Gray, PhM, and two other pharmacist's mates proceeded with the first aid treatment of all men who had been injured and necessary cases were sent to the Naval Air Station Dispensary in Naval Air Station trucks supplied for this purpose.

While in the trenches, a short time later, knocking was heard on the ship's hull. At this time planes were still strafing and dropping bombs. I called for a volunteer crew to return to the UTAH to investigate the knocking heard. Machinist Szymanski and a volunteer crew consisting of MacSelwiney, CMM, and two seamen, names unknown, returned to the ship and located the tapping coming from the void space V-98, under the dynamo room. They answered the knocking with knocks on the outside which in turn were answered by knocking within the ship.

Realizing that there were personnel trapped inside the ship, Machinist Szymanski obtained a cutting torch and equipment from the U.S.S. RALEIGH and cut a hole in the bottom of the ship and rescued Vaessen, John B., F2c V-6, USNR, who reported that he had been the last man in that part of the ship. He was on watch on the forward distribution board when the ship was hit and the voltage commenced dropping. He cut out


<p>80-G-19950: Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Rescue parties are working on openings in the hull of USS Utah (AG 16), a target ship, sent to the bottom during the Japanese attacks.&nbsp;</p>

Rescue parties working on openings in the hull of capsized USS Utah.

power forward and then aft in an endeavor to maintain lights in the ship. Finally the lights dimmed and went out and he, then being unable to escape to the deck, proceeded to the dynamo room, entered the starboard dynamo work shop, opened the manhole to compartment V-98 and climbed up to the ship's bottom taking his wrench and flashlight with him.

* * * * *

All officers and enlisted personnel are to be commended for the initiative and prompt execution of all orders during the entire period and I am of the opinion that the coolness and lack of excitement as well as the small loss of life was due to a great extent to the training they had received during the previous nine weeks of duty as a bombing target. The boat crews acted in a manner well worthy of commendation, picking up men from the water during the entire strafing period.

The reports of survivors agree with the report given above. It should be mentioned here that Utah did not open fire against the Japanese planes because the guns were all inoperative. By reason of acting as target ship in the current operations all of the anti-aircraft guns were covered with steel housing while the smaller machine guns were dismantled and stowed below decks.

There were 58 men lost on Utah. The majority of those lost were killed or injured by 6 x 12 timbers which covered the ship in two layers; the swim to Ford Island was considerable, although shipmates helped each other in getting through the oily water.



Nevada was moored just astern of Arizona. In accordance with the fleet doctrine she got underway and headed for the entrance before the order was cancelled. The senior officer aboard at the time was Lieutenant commander Thomas of the Naval Reserve.

The Japanese planes were first seen at 0801 and General Quarters was sounded immediately. The Captain's official report indicates that the machine guns forward and aft opened fire at 0802 and the 5-inch opened fire about 0803 with local control as it was deemed inappropriate to wait for director control personnel to reach their stations in the top of masts.

The machine guns fired effectively at enemy torpedo planes approaching from the portside. One plane was brought down by machine gun fire and fell about 100 yards off the port quarter. Another plane dropped a torpedo which struck Nevada on the port bow. The 5-inch guns on the portside downed a torpedo plane before it released its weapon.

About 0830 all guns opened fire again and continued until 0915 when the attack slackened. The official reports differ as to the number of enemy planes shot down, but as many as five were reported. Some of these were dive bombers which attacked Nevada while she was underway.

She got underway at 0840 and headed southwest. When abreast Drydock Number One she was heavily attacked by Japanese dive bombers. At this time Admiral Furlong, standing on the deck of his doomed flagship, Oglala, ordered the ship to seek refuge in the Middle Loch. He feared that she might block the entrance channel, especially if the enemy had dropped mines in that area as then seemed probable. Accordingly, he ordered two tugs to assist Nevada, and she was grounded near the entrance at Waipio Point.

There were no more Japanese attacks. Nevada had fought gallantly, and had received one torpedo hit and at least six bomb hits. Her crew was magnificent. The Captain, Captain F. W. Scanland, reported as follows:

The Commanding Officer finds it extremely difficult to single out individual members of the crew as deserving of special praise. Every officer and man aboard, without exception, performed his duties in a most commendable manner and without regard to personal safety. The courage and spirit of the anti-aircraft gun crews, where bomb hits caused most of the casualties, was of the highest order. Every man on the ship carried on in accordance with the best traditions of the service.

It is considered that Lieutenant Commander Francis J. Thomas, U. S.


Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal - page 151

USS Nevada beached.

Naval Reserve, the Commanding Officer during the greater part of the attack, is deserving of special commendation. This officer got the ship underway within forty minutes and headed down channel. Although the NEVADA had been torpedoed and had received one or two bomb hits, Lieutenant Commander Thomas correctly decided that it was urgently necessary to get underway to avoid destruction of the ship due to the proximity of the ARIZONA which was surrounded with burning oil and afire from stem to stern. Throughout the action Lieutenant Commander Thomas coolly and calmly fought the ship despite many bomb hits and casualties. After the attack and for two days afterward, Lieutenant commander Thomas performed damage control duties in a most creditable manner although near the point of exhaustion by his two days of strenuous work.

In addition, the Captain named the following for special recognition:

Chief Boatswain E. J. Hill, who was killed in action.


Ensign J. K. Taussig, Jr., who, although badly wounded, refused to leave his post.

Ensign Taylor, who was in charge of a 5 inch anti-aircraft battery and was outstanding in leadership.

Among others he mentioned Lieutenant L. E. Ruff, Chief Quartermaster R. Sedferry, Boatswain's Mate, First Class A. Solar, and Seaman First Class, W. F. Neudorf, Jr.

He ended with the following :

The Commanding Officer believes that all members of the crew of the NEVADA who were aboard during the attack are deserving of special praise, and the courage and spirit of the crew both during and after the attack cannot be over-emphasized. The performance of duty of the Medical Department under the difficult conditions is most gratifying, and the members of that Department exhibited the same courage and devotion to duty under fire as any other member of the crew. The dead and wounded were quickly and effectively handled.


The Commander Battleships, Rear Admiral W. S. Anderson, wrote as follows:

On the occasion of the treacherous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, battleship ready guns opened fire at once. They were progressively augmented as the rest of the anti-aircraft battery was manned as all battleships went to General Quarters with commendable promptness. This resulted in an early and great volume of anti-aircraft fire. Considering all the circumstances, including the necessity for local control in the early stages of the attack, the control of fire was gratifyingly good as attested by the fifteen to seventeen enemy planes which were brought down. That such an anti-aircraft fire could be inaugurated and sustained in spite of the difficulties resulting from early damage by torpedoes and bombs and great and menacing oil fires is a tribute to the courage, constancy, efficiency and resourcefulness of the officers and men. Not only were they maintaining a sustained and aggressive fire whenever the enemy threatened, but they were engaged in valiant efforts to save the ships, prevent their capsizing and fighting large and menacing oil fires, enveloped in dense clouds of smoke. Severe structural damage and flooded magazines made replenishment of ammunition a serious problem, which in overcoming great courage and ingenuity was exhibited.

* * * * *


When the attack first started, the Chief of Staff, Operations Officer and Assistant Material Officer were on board the flagship, MARYLAND. Other members of the Staff returned to the ship as soon as practicable, all arriving on board either during the action or shortly thereafter. Commander Battleships arrived on board about 0905 and immediately took general charge not only of the salvage and rescue work of the battleships but also assisted in retransmitting messages received from the Commander-in-Chief addressed to various light forces.

* * * * *

Burning oil from the ARIZONA was being carried on the surface of the water surrounding the TENNESSEE-WEST VIRGINIA group and at times on the MARYLAND and capsized OKLAHOMA. The YG-17 upon the initiative of her commanding officer, Chief Boatswain's Mate, L. M. Jansen, U.S. Navy, took aggressive action in fighting the fire, taking station at the quarter of the WEST VIRGINIA and maintaining her position there in spite of dense smoke and flame. Commander Battleships directed the TERN to assist and later when the WIDGEON reported to assist in the rescue work on the hull of the capsized OKLAHOMA, directed that vessel to fight the fire. Later, the BOBOLINK was also directed to assist. These vessels kept the fire under control throughout the night and with the assistance of the NAVAJO on December 8 succeeded in extinguishing the fire in the WEST VIRGINIA. These vessels were then directed to fight the fire in the ARIZONA which was gotten under control before dark the night of December 8.

The CALIFORNIA was listing dangerously to port. The NEVADA, which had gotten underway from her berth, and had been bombed in the channel, was beached in order to prevent sinking or capsizing.

* * * * *

The TENNESSEE was pinched between the WEST VIRGINIA and the forward interrupted quay. There is no evidence of excessive strain of the ship's structure. Armor bolts have been examined and found tight.

MARYLAND was struck by a light fragmentation bomb on the forecastle deck forward, which blew a hole about 12 feet by 20 feet in the deck, and caused minor structural damage in the compartments on the main deck below. This has been repaired.

A 15-inch A.P. bomb entered the water on the port bow close aboard, and pierced the shell at the twenty-three foot water line, near frame 11, exploding in compartment A-103-A, sail and awning stowage, causing widespread structural damage and flooding. Repairs are underway to make the ship seaworthy.

The torpedo air compressor rooms were flooded incident to this hit, placing both compressors out of commission. A steam air compressor has been installed in the ship to provide H. P. air until these compressors can


Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

Maryland and capsized Oklahoma with West Virginia's masts visible in the background.

be repaired. Small arms and .50 caliber machine gun magazine was flooded by the ship.

* * * * *

Information available at present indicates that machinery and fireroom spaces have incurred little or no damage from explosion or fire. On the NEVADA, OKLAHOMA, ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA and WEST VIRGINIA the engineering plants are submerged.

The fires in the forward portions of the WEST VIRGINIA and ARIZONA have caused warping and collapse of a considerable portion of structure.

* * * * *

The need for adequate splinter protection for topside personnel was vividly demonstrated. For example, the protection afforded by the King Board bulkheads provided considerable protection so far as it went. These bulkheads were pitted by many .50 caliber bullets and fragments. In no case were the bulkheads which were inspected holed. However, the protection afforded was inadequate. There should be gun shields, or better still, gun turrets. In the case of the NEVADA, a bomb hit the boat deck and wiped out most of the personnel because no protection was afforded from inboard.

The need for splinter protection with lateral, all around, and overhead


protection has been stressed by Commander Battleships in previous correspondence and the attack on Pearl Harbor served to emphasize its urgent necessity.

* * * * *

Rescue work on the hull of the capsized OKLAHOMA was initiated by Commander Battleships and directed by Commander E. P. Kranzfelder and Lieutenant Mandelkorn of Commander Battleships' staff, assisted by officers and men of the OKLAHOMA, men from the RIGEL and Navy Yard Pearl Harbor and fire and rescue parties from the battleships. As a result of these efforts 32 men were rescued alive from the hull of the OKLAHOMA.

* * * * *

The following named Division Commanders and Commanding Officers were killed :

Rear Admiral I. C. Kidd, U.S. Navy, Commander Battleship Division One.

Captain F. Van Valkenburgh, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. ARIZONA.

Captain M. S. Bennion, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA.

Conduct of personnel. In separate correspondence Commander Battleships has submitted to the Commander-in-Chief a report of the distinguished conduct of various individuals, as well as the ships' companies in general. Commander Battleships cannot, however, conclude this report without paying homage to the universal exhibition of courage and magnificent fighting spirit by absolutely all the personnel of the battleships. Their conduct was in accord with the highest traditions of the Service.

The Commanding Officer, Captain D. C. Godwin reported:

All anti-aircraft batteries were promptly manned at the beginning of the attack. The machine gun battery placed torpedo planes under fire immediately, it being believed that the first two such planes approaching this ship and the OKLAHOMA met destructive fire. All A. A. batteries were employed against the dive bombing and strafing attacks which followed the torpedo attack. The approximate amount of ammunition expended is as follows :

5"/25 -- 450 rounds
1".1 -- 4500 rounds
.50 cal. M. G. -- 2500



The Captain of Tennessee, Captain C. E, Reardan, wrote:

At about 0755, planes, observed to be Japanese by their markings, were seen dropping bombs on Ford Island. This ship went to General Quarters and started setting condition Zed. Immediately, after the bombing of Ford Island, planes began torpedoing and bombing the battleships and other ships in the Harbor. This ship opened fire with 5" 25 caliber, 3" 50 caliber, and .50 caliber machine guns about five minutes after the first attack. Orders for sortie were received but later cancelled for battleships. This ship was ready to get underway with both plants and 6 boilers about 0930, Shortly after the attack began, the OKLAHOMA, WEST VIRGINIA, and CALIFORNIA received torpedo hits. The OKLAHOMA listed over and in about 10 minutes capsized. The WEST VIRGINIA listed heavily but was righted by counter flooding. The CALIFORNIA listed. The ARIZONA received several large bomb hits at least one of which apparently penetrated the magazines. There was a large explosion forward. The foremast fell forward and burning powder, oil, and debris was thrown on the quarterdeck of the TENNESSEE. The ARIZONA settled rapidly by the bow. The NEVADA got underway, but was struck by bombs and torpedoes and grounded in the channel. Large fires were raging around the ARIZONA and WEST VIRGINIA. The ARIZONA was moored to quays about seventy-five feet astern of the TENNESSEE and the WEST VIRGINIA was moored to the TENNESSEE. The burning powder, oil, and debris from the ARIZONA explosion plus the intense heat from the fires started fires in the stern and port quarter of this ship. These fires and the subsequent wetting caused considerable damage to the wardroom and officers' quarters in this vicinity. The fires were brought under control about 1030.

* * * * *

There are 21 blanked off ports in the area which was exposed to great heat. Of these blanked ports the welding pulled apart due to the distortion of the shell plating. The regular ports in this area had the lenses fused, rubber gaskets burned, and the canvas stopwater between the port frame and the side of the ship destroyed. Except in small isolated cases, there was no burning of linoleum. This was probably due to the fact that the heat was above all linoleum rather than under.

* * * * *

The following ammunition was expended during the battle: 760 rounds 5"/25 A. A. common, 180 rounds 3"/50, 4000 rounds 50 caliber machine gun.

* * * * *


Pearl Harbor Raid, December 1941

Tennessee and West Virginia with capsized Oklahoma in foreground.

The conduct of the officers and crew of the TENNESSEE was uniformly in accordance with the highest traditions of the Service. Not only did they fight the battle with calmness and deliberation but for the next twenty-four hours they fought the oil fires in the ARIZONA and WEST VIRGINIA which threatened to destroy the TENNESSEE. The ARIZONA was eighty feet to windward and her burning oil was a real menace to this ship; the WEST VIRGINIA was alongside with her forward magazines in danger of explosion; nevertheless, the crew carried out their gunnery and damage control duties as if at drill. The Commanding Officer considers that the conduct of the following officers was especially distinguished :

1. LieutComdr. John W. Adams, Jr., U.S. Navy:

As Gunnery Officer and temporary Commanding Officer he fought the ship with a calmness and precision that was an inspiration to the entire ship's company.

2. Lieutenant Robert R. Moore, U.S. Navy:

As senior Damage Control Officer aboard he carried on all of his duties in an extremely calm and efficient manner.

3. Captain Chevey S. White, U.S. Marine Corps:

Acting as Air Defense Officer, he displayed outstanding coolness and courage during the engagement. While exposed to enemy bombing


and strafing attack at his unprotected battle station he directed the fire of the A. A. battery in a calm and efficient manner.

4. Ens. William S, Thomas, D-V(G), U.S.N.R:

As A. A. Group Control Officer, while exposed to enemy bombing and strafing attack in an unprotected battle station, he carried out his duties in a calm and efficient manner

5. Ens. Donald M. Kable, U.S. Navy:

As .50 caliber machine gun Control Officer, he directed the fire of his guns while being strafed by enemy planes until he was so seriously wounded that he was carried below.

6. Chief Boatswain Lewis W. Adkins, U.S. Navy:

In charge of the after repair party, his leadership and heroic conduct while fighting the fires contributed toward saving the ship from destruction. Throughout the attack he was in an exposed position and continued to fight the fires until they were brought under control.


Chapter X
Official Reports Other Ships




Chapter X
Official Reports Other Ships


Bagley was at the Navy Yard and witnessed the action over Hickam Field, believed at first to be Army bombers. At about 0758 Bagley saw torpedo planes attack Oklahoma from a height of only 50 or 60 feet. The ship went to general quarters, opened fire at once with forward machine guns, and saw one plane drop and its torpedo land in a mud bank ahead of Bagley. Bagley shot down, or saw shot down, several Japanese torpedo planes. Although limited by Navy Yard work Bagley was able to get underway at 0940 and patrolled at sea near the entrance.

Blue saw Utah torpedoed at 0800, and sounded General Quarters. Although undergoing buoy upkeep, she prepared to get underway. At 0805 she opened fire with 50 caliber machine guns, and about two minutes later with 5-inch guns. The ship got underway at 0847 and continued firing at enemy planes while steaming out of the harbor. Blue passed the channel entrance buoys at 0910 and proceeded to the patrol station of sector three. Here Blue claimed one midget submarine, and possibly two more, due to depth charge attacks. Oil slick and air bubbles were in evidence.

It should be related that the Acting Commanding Officer of Blue was Ensign Nathan F. Asher, only two years out of the Naval Academy. The officers aboard were in large part Reserve Officers. The ship got underway promptly, opened fire with its machine guns at once, and got the 5-inch anti-aircraft battery firing within a few minutes. They shot down at least one Japanese plane, probably sank one enemy submarine, and acted as screen for fleet cruisers searching for the Japanese Fleet. When the gun captain of number 1 gun went to repair the ammunition hoist of number 4 gun he got on his knees and prayed, "Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord! Make this ammunition hoist work just this once." While he was praying with tears coming from his eyes, a tall colored man stationed in the handling room looked down and said, "Why, Smith, you got the oil turned off."

Helm was enroute to the deperming area in the West Loch at 0726. Her


Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

USS Shaw exploding.

crew saw the Japanese planes attacking Ford Island at 0759, before going to General Quarters. Although ammunition was at hand the forward machine guns did not open fire on the torpedo planes that passed over the ship because these guns did not bear and were in a state of preservation. However, fire was opened at 0805 by the after machine guns and were followed shortly by the forward guns. This was followed at 0807 by firing from the 5-inch battery. A Japanese torpedo plane was observed to catch on fire and crash-land near Hickam Field.

Helm changed its destination and put out to sea, ultimately to act as a screen for cruisers. In the meantime she sighted a periscope near the entrance. The submarine appeared to be fast on a reef but it escaped and submerged. A torpedo passed close to Helm and its plates were sprung due to near misses of light bombs and constant strafing.


Jarvis was at the Navy Yard and witnessed the torpedo planes attacking the battleships at 0759 and immediately went to General Quarters. Promptly the anti-aircraft batteries were manned and the machine guns opened fire at 0804. At 0805 the number 3 five-inch gun joined the action, and all guns were in use by 0815.

Shaw was in Floating Drydock Number Two and eventually came to grief. The vessel saw the planes attack Ford Island but did not open fire because she was in an overhaul status with ammunition stowed below. At 0840 Shaw and the floating drydock were heavily bombed by the planes which attacked Nevada which was then near. As a result the floating drydock was sunk and Shaw heavily damaged due to a magazine explosion forward. The magazine explosion on Shaw is shown on page 162.

There were 35 or 40 destroyer types in Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese onslaught. Except for three, none suffered serious damage. The great majority showed the mettle which characterized the fleet. Those that did not get underway to patrol for enemy submarines were on the job with their anti-aircraft batteries, were rescuing men from the water and oil, or were sent to the battleships to help fight the fires which were raging. A number were under overhaul at the Navy Yard or alongside repair ships or tenders, and were therefore in an unalert state as far as concerns guns, ammunition, or propulsion. Their efficiency in patrol work is attested by the fact that not a single ship of the American Navy was successfully attacked by the Japanese submarines that lay in wait off the entrance channel or in operating areas.

Space is not available to describe the various destroyers which rendered major service in combating the enemy or patrolling for enemy submarines, but mention should be made of Wasmuth, Tucker, Tracy, Breese, Dewey, Henley, Preble, Sumner, Reid, Hull, Gamble, Cummings, Thornton, Ramsay, Mugford, Conyngham, Sicard, Ralph Talbot, and others.

Let it be recorded that both mine divisions acquitted themselves well. They were undergoing overhaul at the Navy Yard and were without guns or ammunition. However, they went to General Quarters promptly and were sent to assist nearby ships in manning anti-aircraft batteries, in supplying ammunition, and in fighting fires on Pennsylvania and California. Machine guns were reassembled and remounted, and with ammunition obtained from New Orleans and San Francisco were used against the enemy in the late attacks.



Map showing location of Tennessee at time of bombing attack.



As previously explained, Pennsylvania was in Drydock Number One together with the destroyers Cassin and Downes which were forward and inboard. Cassin and Pennsylvania observed enemy planes attacking Ford Island and Hickam Field. When enemy planes attacked California, General Quarters was sounded about 0757 or shortly thereafter.

Pennsylvania, although in drydock, opened fire on the Japanese planes at 0802. During the second attack Downes was hit and set on fire; the drydock service lines were hit and water pressure was interrupted. One bomb passed through Pennsylvania's boat deck on the starboard side and put several 5-inch guns out of commission. At 0920 the drydock was flooded to put out raging fires on Downes. The result was that Cassin rolled over on Downes. Both destroyers were severely punctured by fragments from bomb hits on the drydock, and warheads from Cassin exploded and fell on Pennsylvania's bow.

Tennessee was kept busy fighting fires on the oily water as a result of fires on Arizona and West Virginia. The after part of the ship was gutted by fires. In addition, Tennessee was hit twice by bombs, once on the face of turret II and again on the top of turret III. Although capable of getting underway, the ship was held fast due to the pinching of the hull between West Virginia and the forward quay. The latter had to be blown up with explosives before Tennessee could be extricated.

Maryland was moored inboard of Oklahoma and was the least damaged of the battleships. She received one bomb hit on the forecastle, but was moved to the Navy Yard as early as 11 December and was ready for duty a week later.

The twenty-five observation planes of the battleships were hard hit. Only one was fit to fly immediately while nine more were repaired in a few hours. Four required major repairs, and eleven of the planes were stricken as complete wrecks. Their parts were used in repairing others.


There were eight modern cruisers in Pearl Harbor, most of them at the Navy Yard, at the time of the Japanese attack. Many of the other Pacific cruisers were at sea with the various task forces. Only three were damaged: Helena, Honolulu, and Raleigh.


Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

Damage to bow of Pennsylvania in Drydock Number One.

Phoenix saw planes proceeding to Ford Island at 0755. Honolulu, from the Navy Yard at 0755 saw planes attacking Hickam Field and shortly thereafter witnessed a wave of torpedo planes moving toward the battleship line. She immediately sounded General Quarters and passed the word "Enemy Air Raid." Machine guns fired at the torpedo planes and the 5-inch went into action immediately. Honolulu fired about 2000 rounds of 30 caliber, 4500 of 50 caliber, and 250 of 3-inch. The ship kept firing until the attacks subsided. This ship saw two of the torpedo planes destroyed.

Phoenix got underway at 1010, temporarily returned to its moorage as ordered, but eventually joined other cruisers at sea. The ship fired eighty rounds of 5-inch between 0900 and 0915 on planes dive-bombing Ford Island and the battleships.

Honolulu suffered one near-miss which caused considerable damage and leakage hard to control. One near-miss bomb passed through the Navy Yard concrete pier and exploded near the hull of the ship.


Helena was moored to 10-10 dock and observed planes over Ford Island at 0757. A signalman, with previous duty on the Asiatic Station, identified the planes immediately and arranged for the general alarm to be sounded and service ammunition to be broken out. At 0801 Helena opened fire, which caused the Japanese aviators to disperse and shy away from Helena. A torpedo exploded against the port engine room after passing under Oglala which was tied up alongside and outboard. The hit on Helena caused serious flooding of machinery spaces. For temporary repairs before departing for the West Coast, the ship was put in the still uncompleted Drydock Number Two, the first vessel to use this drydock.

Raleigh was tied up at the quay customarily used by an aircraft carrier. At 0800 she opened fire with her anti-aircraft battery consisting of 50 caliber, 1.1-inch, and 3-inch guns. She was struck by a torpedo about 0800 and immediately listed to port. The forward engine room and forward fire rooms were completely flooded. All weights on the port side were jettisoned to prevent capsizing. The ship sent help to Utah, and the ship's doctor to Solace, a hospital ship.

New Orleans sounded General Quarters at 0757, immediately after seeing enemy planes dive-bombing Ford Island. The ship was tied up at the Navy Yard and manned 1.1-inch battery and machine guns aft in time to fire at the Japanese planes launching torpedoes against the battleships. In the meantime, the Japanese were fired at with rifles and pistols from the fantail. By 0810 all guns except the 8-inch were in use and caused the Japanese aviators to turn away or to drop their bombs erratically. The concentrated fire from New Orleans and Honolulu had a salutary effect, causing the bombs to fall into the water between the ships and Rigel.

Saint Louis was at the Navy Yard but lost no time in going to General Quarters and opening fire with the 50 caliber and 1.1-inch batteries. The 5-inch guns and the two boilers which were out of commission because of Navy Yard work were soon put into operating condition. Saint Louis got underway at 0931 with boiler power for twenty-nine knots. She cleared the entrance at twenty-five knots and zigzagged after torpedoes were fired at her. She joined other cruisers and destroyers in pursuit of the Japanese forces.

The Commanding Officer, Captain G. S. Rood, gave high praise for the performance of duty of all officers and men attached to the vessel. All hands responded promptly without confusion or delay. He especially commended Lieutenant Charles A. Curtze, on the Staff of Commander Cruisers,


who was a visitor on board at the time General Quarters was sounded. He proceeded at once to Central Station and performed the duties of First Lieutenant and Damage Control Officer.


The auxiliary ships acquitted themselves with distinction. Avocet was moored near Ford Island and observed the bombing of hangars and planes at the Naval Air Station. That small seaplane tender fired forty-four rounds of 3-inch and 1750 rounds of 30 caliber. The torpedo planes which attacked California were fired upon by Avocet.

We should not forget the seaplane tender Curtiss. She witnessed the bombing of the Naval Air Station and the torpedoing of Utah and Raleigh. Immediately the vessel went to General Quarters. She shot down an enemy plane about 1000 yards off the port bow and saw one plane crash in a sugar cane field. The vessel was ready to get underway when at 0835 it sighted a midget submarine periscope on the starboard quarter about 700 yards away. She opened fire at once and scored two hits on the conning tower. The submarine was later depth charged by Monaghan and was subsequently recovered. Its picture appears on page 169. At 0905 an enemy plane was hit by Curtiss and crashed into the starboard crane. A bomb hit the boat deck and detonated on the main deck, its fragments destroying much gear. At the same time one bomb fell short and another struck the mooring buoy.

Nor should we forget the indomitable repair ship Vestal which was moored alongside the ill-fated Arizona. She sounded General Quarters at 0755 and shortly thereafter opened fire with 5-inch, 3-inch, and 30 caliber. A blast from Arizona caused numerous casualties on Vestal. It blew overboard the Captain who returned to his ship by swimming. He was Commander Cassin Young, who was later killed aboard the cruiser San Francisco at Guadalcanal. Vestal had been hit by two bombs, had a list of over six degrees, and was down by the stern. When burning oil from Arizona jeopardized the ship by fire, Vestal got underway at 0845 and grounded at 0950 to prevent further list or loss of buoyancy.

Swan, another small seaplane tender, was in the Marine Railway undergoing boiler repairs when at 0755 it observed the enemy assault on Ford Island. It immediately went to General Quarters and opened fire at 0803 with its 3-inch guns.


Japanese &quot;Type A&quot; Midget Submarine

Stern view of Japanese two-man submarine. Note "washboard" effect caused by depth charges.

Rigel, a repair ship was tied up at the Navy Yard, saw Ford Island attacked by ten dive-bombers at 0758. At 0800 it was bombed and strafed by dive-bombers from a low altitude. The ship had no armament and was therefore unable to take action against the Japanese planes although seeing them attack the battleships with torpedoes. About 100 of her men were sent to West Virginia to help fight fires. The blasts from near-misses threw about 100 men into the oily water, and caused about 150 small fragment holes in the port quarter. The men were rescued but one whaleboat was hit by a bomb and disintegrated.

The submarine rescue ship Widgeon rendered first aid to whatever ship seemed in need. The ship received from Commander Battle Force a letter of commendation for the work of its intrepid divers and those of the Submarine Base for their work on Nevada and California.

Various other auxiliary vessels witnessed the early Japanese forays and took offensive action. Among these were Pelias, Antares, Whitney, Dobbin, Ramapo, Castor, and the tugs Vireo, Bobolink, and Rail.


There were four United States submarines present at the time of the Japanese attack, none of which were damaged.


Tautog at once saw enemy planes approach and drop bombs over Ford Island. She also saw the torpedo planes approach the battleships. The fourth plane in line was shot down by either Tautog or Sumner.

Dolphin at 0800 used rifles and machine guns against Japanese planes. Another submarine which should be mentioned is Cachalot which was at the Navy Yard at the time. It was in position to observe the attack on Ford Island and the torpedoing of the battleships. Bereft of military equipment due to Navy Yard overhaul it rendered assistance to stricken ships, especially Oglala.


Special mention should be made of the minelayer Oglala because she was the flagship of the minecraft. The Commander of Minecraft, Rear Admiral William R. Furlong, was walking the deck of Oglala and was a valuable witness before the Roberts Commission. He saw the bombs dropped on the Naval Air Station and saw the torpedo planes start their torpedoes toward the defenseless battleships across the water from him. As soon as he heard

USS Oglala (CM-4)

Starboard side of USS Oglala, looking aft from Ten-Ten Dock.


the explosions he detected that they were enemy planes although up to that time he gave but little attention to planes buzzing about even on a Sunday. He called out: "Japanese. Man your stations." The word was immediately passed to call all men to General Quarters. All watertight doors were closed, guns were manned, and all men went to their stations.

Oglala capsized eventually, about one and one-half hours after suffering a near-miss from the torpedo which struck Helena. Oglala set up a first aid station on the Navy Yard dock, and mounted guns on the dock. Men from West Virginia who were wounded were landed there and received first aid treatment from Oglala's crew.




"All Hands" Engaged In Salvage Work




"All Hands" Engaged In Salvage Work


No sooner had the attack been completed than Fleet Commanders got ready for another strike. Many put to sea in search of the enemy. Fortunately a repetition of the attack never came. The Japanese Commander considered that the mission was completed and missed his chance of finishing the job so efficiently begun. He could have set on fire the reserve oil supply of five million barrels, or he could have leveled the Navy Yard's shops and drydocks, thereby destroying the Navy's industrial capacity. Likewise he could have destroyed the submarine base which contained the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief and which was of paramount value later in carrying on the submarine offensive against Japan's military and maritime ships.

As has been stated, each ship was under twelve hours notice to get underway in case of attack. Yet, the smaller ships required much less than twelve hours. Some ships at Pearl Harbor did get underway and put to sea, but the larger ships stayed in port due to a wise cancellation of the order. The two task forces then at sea were instructed to search for the Japanese and to intercept them if sighted. Fortunately they were not found; their strength was far greater than any American force that was available at the time. This included air power, of which the Japanese had a great superiority.

Of first importance to Fleet Commanders was the task of readying ships for a full fleet engagement with the Fleet of Japan. At that time no information was at hand on the enemy's location, the strength of his force, or his intentions with regard to landing or seeking a fleet engagement. The situation which confronted the high command was therefore to arrive at a priority of work on the various ships, since those needing a minimum of work should be taken in hand first and made ready for action.



We have seen from survivors' reports the spirit which pervaded our men. Both officers and enlisted were busy saving the lives of each other and in repelling the enemy. Cowardice was rare if not unknown. Heroism and bravery were the qualities shown by the military. Taking undue risks was commonplace.

The manning of anti-aircraft batteries and the replenishment of ammunition came first. The removal and comfort of the wounded were of almost equal importance. Fighting fires and watertight integrity were the tasks of many. Men were overcome by fumes from the fuel oil which was everywhere, but a shipmate was usually at hand to carry a person to fresh air, or to rescue drowning persons from the water, or from oil and water mixed. Helping shipmates through portholes was the only means of escape still available in certain ships and was responsible for saving many lives.


As ships capsized, in particular Oklahoma and Utah, some men were trapped in the ship's lower compartments. They made their presence known by tapping on the structures with wrenches or other tools. These were heard by the men on the hulls of the capsized ships and were answered; the Morse Code was used, and the rescue of the trapped men began. Oklahoma showed the maximum promise. The bottom of the ship was all that was visible above water. The ship had capsized through 170 degrees so that its bottom was nearest the surface. By cutting holes through the bottom of the ship the rescue party was able to reach the men who had sought refuge in that part of the ship which was near the open air.

A survivor who had escaped through a hatch at frame 117 stated that men were alive in that locality. At about that time, 0915, Commander Kranzfelder and Lieutenant Mandelkorn from the staff of Commander Battleships, were present, and at 0930 Lieutenant Commander Herbert Pfingstag from the Navy Yard arrived. At first they tried to gain access to the inside of the ship by acetylene torch, using it in locations free of oil and water, but found that the fumes from oil and the cork used for insulation were deadly to the men who were trapped in the locality. Accordingly, they thereafter


Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

Rescue parties at work on USS Oklahoma. USS Maryland is in the background.

used compressed air and corresponding tools which were furnished by the Navy Yard and various ships, including Maryland, Argonne, and Rigel. The Navy Yard and ships concerned provided submersible pumps, sound powered telephones, and air ducts for ventilating purposes.

Soon the trapped men were located in the vicinity of frames 131, 116, 78, and 22. The men were all near the bottom of the ship, which at that time was partly visible above the water level of the harbor. It was not until 0800 on 8 December that six men were rescued, and at 1100 eleven more were brought out. Five more were released at 1400 and eight at 1600 on that same date. The last man was not rescued from Oklahoma until 0230 on 9 December. All were in good condition except for lack of sleep, food, and sufficient oxygen. Some of the thirty-two men were dependent on an air bubble for sufficient air. Of course the air bubble gradually disappeared and water rose as soon as an opening was made in a compartment. A watch was


maintained on the hull of Oklahoma until 11 December but no further signs of life were detected.

A great part of the credit goes to the Navy Yard. One of its men showed intrepidity of the highest nature by staying on the job and risking his life as leader until all known survivors had been released from the hull of the ship. He was Julio De Castro, Leadingman Caulker and Chipper, who was awarded a Commendation by the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District.

Utah lost fifty-eight men in the action. Of those saved one man was rescued through the bottom after the ship had capsized. This was John B. Vaessen, Fireman Second Class, who was later lost. Nearly all of the men who had not been killed or wounded were clear of the lower compartments except Vaessen who remained at his post in the forward distribution room in order to keep lights on the ship as long as possible. He was rescued by helpers from Raleigh as well as by a volunteer crew from Utah consisting of Machinist S. A. Szymanski, Chief Engineman MacSelwiney, and two seamen. They heard tapping on the bottom and after answering, they cut a hole by acetylene torch, obtained from Raleigh, near enough to free Vaessen.


Rear Admiral William L. Calhoun was in charge of salvage operations by virtue of his position as Commander of the Base Force. He was assisted by officers on his staff, especially Commander Rufus G. Thayer and Commander James H. Rodgers. It happened that Lieutenant Commander Lebbeus Curtis was enroute to the Far East for salvage work and, because of his considerable experience was put in charge as Salvage Engineer. He later was retained in the Base .Salvage Organization for several months, at which time he was put in charge of all salvage in the Pacific as Mobile Salvage Engineer. He ultimately was promoted to Rear Admiral.

Considerable progress was made in repairing ships which had only minor damage, especially by furnishing small craft to fight fires and supply pumping equipment. A hero of the times was the lowly garbage lighter, YG-17, which had a large pumping capacity. She tied up alongside West Virginia to fight her many fires and was successful in her work though beset by Japanese aircraft and continuous strafing. This craft, which won commendations from the Commander of Battleships, had a nostalgic effect on the


Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal - page 179

Garbage Lighter YG-17 which performed such heroic duty on 7 December 1941 in fighting fires.

author because her all-welded sister ship, YG-16 (often called Petunia) was built under his jurisdiction at Mare Island and won a prize of $7500 in 1932 for himself and another officer. YG-17 which was commanded by Chief Boatswains Mate L. M. Jansen won a well-merited commendation for brave work following the Japanese surprise air raid.


The formal Salvage Organization began on 14 December 1941, an even week after the Japanese attack. It was under the direction of then Commander James M. Steele, who was previously in command of Utah. He remained in command of salvage under the Base Force until relieved by the author, Captain Homer N. Wallin, on 9 January, 1942. At that time the Salvage Division became a part of the Navy Yard under the Manager, Captain Claude S. Gillette.

The author is indebted to Vice Admiral William S. Pye and his Chief-of-Staff, then Captain Harold C. Train, for releasing him, first on a part-time basis, from his duties on the Battle Force Staff so that he could take direct


charge of the salvage work. These officers were boosters of the salvage work and were extremely active in showing their support. So were all officers of the Battle Force Staff, especially Captain Allan E. Smith who was Operations Officer for Admiral Pye.

The Staff of the Battle Force moved from the uninhabitable California and joined the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet at the Submarine Base. Thus the three senior material officers of the fleet were in a single office and were called upon for a variety of duties. These were Commander David H. Clark of the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief; the author, Captain Homer N. Wallin, of the Battle Force; and

Insignia:  Pearl Harbor Navy Yard

Insignia for Pearl Harbor Navy Yard.


Commander Ralph S. McDowell of the Scouting Force. Commander Clark and Commander McDowell were very helpful to the author in all aspects of salvage work.

In view of the Navy Yard's industrial importance its Commandant was switched from the Commandant of the District, Rear Admiral Bloch, on a part time basis, to the former Commander of Minecraft whose flagship, Oglala, capsized and sank. He was Rear Admiral William R. Furlong who was very interested in all Yard work and gave to salvage operations a great impetus. Formerly he was Chief of the Navy's Bureau of Ordnance.

The headquarters of the Salvage Division was a contractor's shack near the waterfront. It was very unpretentious but served satisfactorily. As the Salvage Division grew, a number of other unpretentious waterfront buildings were added.

The original organization had liaison with the Navy Yard, and project officers in charge of each job. Originally Lieutenant Emile C. Generaux was project officer for Nevada, Lieutenant Commander Thayer for Tennessee, and Lieutenant Commander Rodgers for California. In addition to Lieutenant Commander Curtis, Lieutenant Commander Thayer and Lieutenant Commander Rodgers were general assistants to Commander Steele. Each specialty had an officer in charge. For instance, Boatswain W. A. Mahan under Lieutenant Commander O. L. De Tar was in charge of all diving, Lieutenant Commander E. E. Berthold of ammunition, and Lieutenant Commander F. C. Stelter, Jr. of all other ordnance material. Office work was under Lieutenant Commander Solomon S. Isquith, aided by Lieutenant Hal C. Jones.

Each officer had help from civilian groups. Mr. Dillingham of Honolulu was available with necessary hoisting barges and other waterfront equipment. One of the most helpful organizations was the Pacific Bridge Company. This company was accustomed to underwater concrete and large excavations with proper bulkheading, and therefore proved invaluable.

The Pacific Bridge Company recommended underwater concrete in lieu of complete cofferdamming of ships resting on the bottom. An expert from the Navy Department finally agreed to this solution, but not until after Lieutenant Commander Curtis had ordered a large supply of steel sheet piling for cofferdams around California. The underwater concrete proved entirely satisfactory, and the cofferdamming material was later used for other purposes in the far reaches of the Pacific.


Sight should not be lost of the part which Navy Yard civilians gave to the salvage work. This is well illustrated by the letter which was written by a Chinese photographer of the Yard named Tai Sing Loo. It follows:

On the 6th of December, Saturday afternoon, I had [made] arrangement with Tech. Sergeant Christen to have all his Guard be at the Main Gate between 8:30 to 9:30 o'clock Sunday morning to have a group of picture taken in front of the new concrete entrance as a setting with the 'Pearl Harbor' for Christmas card to send home to their family.

Sunday morning I left my home for Pearl Harbor after 7 :00 o'clock. I was waiting for my bus at corner Wilder Avenue and Metcalf Street. Saw the sky full of antiaircraft gun firing up in the air, I called my friend to look up in sky, explain them how the Navy used their antiaircraft gun firing in practicing, at that time I didn't realize we were in actual war. Our bus stop at Bishop and King Streets. We heard the alarm ringing from the third story building of the Lewers & Cooke, Ltd. Saw the window shattered. I walk up to Young Hotel corner and cross the street. Stop for a cup of coffee at Swanky and Franky. Suddenly all excitement arouse the Honolulu Fire Engine rush down Bishop Street and all directions. Taxi full of sailor and marine dashing toward Pearl Harbor. I'm very much surprise what's all this excitement. I wave the taxi to stop and get on it to go back to Pearl Harbor. When I approached to Pearl Harbor surprise with great shock. Thought one of our oil tanks caught on fire, showing black velum of thick smoke in the air. I got off at the main gate of Pearl Harbor, met all the guards with arms and Machine Gun in placed. I was great shock with surprise the war are on. Watching many Japanese war planes attacked Pearl Harbor, dropping bombs right and left on dry docks and Ford Island. Suddenly terrific explosion. Fire broke out. I was very calm and waiting for the opportunity to get a ride to the Studio to get my camera. I was at the Main Gates standby with Marines. Guards at the Main Gates were bravery and cool headed to keep the by-standing away for safety and clear traffic. There were the young, fighting marines. We were under fire. The Japanese planes painted in aluminum, Red Ball under each wing, flew very low toward the Main Gates.

I wish my Graflex with me. I would had a wonderful close up shot of the Japanese. Again the Japanese flew around the Navy Housing Area and turn back, head direct to Hickham Field, very low to drop a bomb to the Hangers, with terrific explosion, set fire the buildings. More planes flew direct the dry dock. Suddenly, I saw one plane had a hit. It flew direct toward West Locke Stream of smoke screen. Now this my opportunity to get in the Yard, one of the Leadingman of Machine Shop drove in his automobile. I hop in, he take me to the Studio and pick up my Graflex Camera to take some picture, second thought I change my mind, reason is because first place I didn't had no order, the second place I didn't had


Salvage of USS Nevada (BB-36), 1941-42

USS Nevada's patch for torpedo hole. Note photographer Tai Sing Loo at lower left.

my famous Trade-Mark helmet on. I had a new English Helmet from Singapore, given by Admiral Murfin a year ago, so I'm afraid some one will make a mistake me as a Jap and shot me down.

I went up to the Administration Building everything OK. I met Mr. Wm. McIlhenny and Mr. W. C. Bohley at the stairway. We talk and both went toward the dry dock. I went to the Supply Dept. and saw many boy had a Steel Helmet on, so I went to see Lt. Cdr. Supply Officer for permission to hat one, the size are too large and heavy for me so I select one smaller size, painted green and white stripe. I went direct to the dry dock to help put out the fire on U.S.S. Cassin had the depth charges on her stern the U.S.S. Pennsylvania bow between Cassin and Downes. I knew it was very dangerous it may explode damage the dry docks and the U.S.S. Pennsylvania. We put our hoses directed the depth charges keeping wet. An Officer came near by and keep up the good work we had out hose right at it all the time, and I turn around and saw Lt. Spear, order all men stand back, some things may happen, so I obey his order and ran back


toward U.S.S. Pennsylvania, suddenly really happen the terrific explosion came from the Destroyer few people were hurt and some fell down. I notice some large pieces of Steel Plates blew over the dry dock when I turn around and look, afterward I notice two extra hoses without nozzles, so I went to the Fire Station and brought back 2 volunteers pointed direct the depth charges, I call for more volunteers to help me clear and straighten up the hose around the First Street to clear for traffic at the same time purpose to gave the fire fighters a chance to extend the hose across over the bow of U.S.S. Pennsylvania to fight the fire at the Downes on Starboard side. Here come another Fire Engine from Submarine Base, I direct them to place their engine and connect this Hydrant #151 and direct them to the depth charges, so everything are well done and successful accomplishment their service. A few words of my appreciation and vote of thanks and successful credit to Lieut. Spear, in charge with his gallant spirit to kept his staff and volunteers calms, right at the job to see the depth charges were wet and kept away the fire. The Marines of the Fire Dept. of the Navy Yard, are the Heroes of the Day of Dec. 7, 1941 that save the Cassin and Downes and U.S.S. Pennsylvania in Dry Dock No.1.

I saw the crew throw out empty 5" shell on the Dock, I gather up in Piles with some sailors so I met Chief LeTendre to help me order some hose from Supply Dept to place in this Hydrant No.151, corner Avenue D and First Street. I also request Lt. Foster to order me more hoses, with in half an hour and hour the Chief brought back 6 new hoses and other load from Lt. Foster and other Chief which I have about 12 length of hose to stand by. Why I order this hoses for ? The Answer-for emergency something may happen I will be there with readiness, reason why, the magazines were taking out from the U.S.S. Pennsylvania, and many casing and empty shell, at the same time were under fired the Jap Airplanes flew over head where up in the clouds. The U.S.S. Pennsylvania Antiaircraft crews were in full action, I wasn't excited and very calm about Street to protect the 2 new hoses, I were little worry -- because I have no nails and lumber to nail between the two planks separated while the heavy traffic going by with Emergency Cases to the Naval Hospital without crushing the hoses. I met Captain Swain passing by I had his permission to have the Carpenter of the Boat Shop to help me nail this planks together. He went to telephone, within few minutes four men marching down with nails and lumber. I were very happy, here comes the Carpenters ready to start nailing suddenly the roaring Anti Air Craft Guns in action, I call my men to dodging for safety, after the Enemy Planes disappear we all returns to our duty, the four men didn't come back at all left the hammers, nails and lumber, so I was very fortunely for two of our local boys passing by and helping me to finish the job, it were very thankful to volunteers their service to stand by with me during the Emergency, I had two men standing by the Hydrant #119 locate Corner Ave E and First Street near the


head of Dry Dock No. 1, four men guarding the two hoses in emergency for readiness in case of fire broke out from the Magazine Casing.

I was self volunteer to be Traffic Police and directing the Traffic during the rushing hours of Emergency, I get a big piece of Maroon cloth to signaling the ambulance to look at those planks easily passing over, to save my hose and other word to give the wounded patients rest easily from rough crossing on the heavy plank I direct all four hours to kept the First Street clear of right away to the Naval Hospital. Many heavy Contractor Trucks passing by with all Defenders and Emergency Call Employee, to report to the Shop for standby. I direct all this group of trucks turn up to Avenue E and unloaded the Employees. Every things were successfully appreciated to my volunteers friends of their bravery and courageous to their service, during the emergency and Under Fired. Every thinks were under control and we all secure and roll up the hoses and returns to the Supply Dept. We were hungry no lunch so I brought each one a Box Ice Cream for lunch and we all dismissed about 3: 30 p.m.

One of the Marine Patrol approaching toward me, if I will do the boys a great service of the Marine Guards and Sailor, which their have no lunch and some without breakfast, so I went to the garage to take my Red PutPut to the 3rd Defense Fleet Marine Mess Hall to see my friend Tech. Sergt. Newland for help, I told the story regards the Post Guard have been neglected to release for lunch. Tech-Sergt. Newland were very kind and his Cook to prepared some sandwiches ham and chicken, fruit all I can delivery to the Post. You should hear what were their saying. Charles, you are one life saver. I have been riding round and round the dry dock until everyone had a sandwiches on every post except the Fuel Oil Farms. I send 50 chicken and hams sandwiches apples and oranges and buns with ham to the shops supt. office. After I returns the Mess Sergt. report no breads be served and water are being poison. I serving some civilians and the Post and Guards Hot Tacks, apples and orange. The water is poison. At the Dry Dock all the workmen have no lunch and hungry, working on the U.S.S. Downs and U.S.S. Cassin, I ran short of everything about 6 :00 p.m. I told the men go to the Mess Hall of the 3rd Defense to have their meal without charges and drink tomatoes juice and fruit. About 7 :00 p.m. I went to the garage to have them take me to the Main Gates.

At the last thought I have the driver drove me to the Mess Hall, the Mess Sergt. gave me 3 gals. can iced cold tomatoes juice and 3 dozen oranges and bag full of Hot Tacks, I gave the driver to take back to Garage night force. I left the Navy Yard at 7:30 p.m. at Main Gates. I was very fortunely an automobile pass by. Lady invited me to take me back to town, she just drive off the Ferry boat from Ford Island. She left me off the Hawaiian Electric Co. It was a black out night, I walk across the Army and Navy Y.M.C.A. to the Beretania Street to walk direct to


the Thomas Square and stopped for a rest. I ask the soldier guard on patrol, with appreciated very kindly if he will halt an automobile to take me home, if convenience on their way home. I told him I came back from Pearl Harbor, I'm Chinese. He shake my hand and glad to be of service, to the Chinese friend. An automobile approach and stop, the soldier request the owner if he will help to take me home to the University. Happening the driver knew me very well, he heard my voice, so he invited me in his car and drove me to my home at the front door, I extended my appreciation and thanks him very kindly to see safe home. My wife and four children were happy and thankful I were safely at home.

As the Confucious say, 'Every Kind Deeds its return many, many time Folds.'1


One of the most important projects of early salvage was the recovery of anti-aircraft guns and ammunition from sunk or disabled ships. Such guns with their directors and other necessary equipment were then installed around air bases and the Pearl Harbor compound.

Much of this material was recovered by divers. Some of it was under-water and had to be unbolted and manhandled by men using diving gear. Likewise, much of the ammunition recovered was in magazines which had been flooded.


The men of the Medical Department were commended for their efficiency during and following the attack. Many medical officers and their staffs reported to the hospital or dispensaries for duty after their own facilities were no longer usable. They rendered first aid to the injured at the Naval Hospital, at various dispensaries, in the hospital ship Solace, or at the Navy Yard. Dispensaries were set up on Ford Island. Medical officers and pharmacist mates won high commendations for staying at their posts giving first aid treatment even though severely wounded or burned themselves.


1 Tai Sing Loo, Narrative of Experiences of Chinese Photographer Employed by Pearl Harbor Navy Yard during Japanese Raid on 7 December 1941, no date.


Getting the Less Damaged Ships Ready For Action




Getting the Less Damaged Ships Ready For Action

As mentioned before the first aim of the high command was to get the less damaged ships ready as soon as possible for action. This work engrossed "all hands" around the clock. The crews themselves did considerable work in getting their ships ready. They were assisted by repair ships, tenders, tugs, and by the Navy Yard.

As yet there was a dire shortage of pumping equipment, lumber, and other materials necessary for efficient salvage work. However, the spirit of the times was "to do our best with what we had." Each echelon of command did everything possible to overcome obstacles which were encountered.


The lightly damaged Pennsylvania gave promise of being one of the first ships to be ready for action. The Navy Yard expedited the lining up of her shafts and propellers. One of the 5-inch anti-aircraft guns was put out of commission temporarily and one 5-inch 51 caliber gun was seriously damaged by the same 250 kilogram bomb which exploded two decks below. The latter was replaced by a gun from West Virginia. The fragmentation and explosion damage was quickly overcome. The splinter protection, wooden deck, electrical gear, water mains, and structural steel were soon repaired and the ship was ready to leave the drydock by 12 December and the Navy Yard by 20 December.

Pennsylvania's drydock was flooded to within one foot of floatation when it was expected that the Nipponese planes might return. This flooding was precautionary in case a bomb explosion should take out the caisson. When Pennsylvania was removed from the drydock on 12 December, Downes was


righted and set down on permanent blocks while Cassin was left in a toppled state until later.

The hits by Japanese bombs on the ship and on the drydock sidewall resulted in the death of two officers and seventeen enlisted men and the wounding of thirty more.

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

USS Pennsylvania in Drydock Number One with Cassin and Downes in foreground.



Honolulu was at the Navy Yard and suffered severe flooding forward. The ship was not hit, but a near-miss of a 250 kilogram bomb passed through the concrete surface of the pier and exploded about twenty feet from the hull. This resulted in an in-buckle five or six feet deep at about frame 40 and extending fore and aft about forty feet. Although the shell of the vessel was not completely opened, the flooding was extensive and could not be stopped. Due to the rupture of a magazine sea-flood, the flooding included the handling room of turret II and several storerooms and compartments.

Honolulu followed Pennsylvania in Drydock Number One, and remained in drydock for permanent repairs from 13 December until 2 January 1942. By 12 January the Yard completed permanent work to the structure, electric wiring, etc.

USS Honolulu (CL-48)

USS Honolulu, showing damage to port side caused by bomb which penetrated the dock and exploded alongside the ship.



As described, Helena was struck on the starboard side by the aerial torpedo which passed under Oglala at the 10-10 Navy Yard pier. The starboard side was opened up below the armor belt. Number 1 engine room and Number 2 boiler room flooded and the water percolated slowly into other spaces.

Drydock Number Two was in an unfinished state at that time but the contractor, the Pacific Bridge Company, arranged to use part of the drydock for Helena after obtaining suitable bilge blocks from the Navy Yard. The vessel entered drydock on 10 December, the first vessel to occupy Drydock Number Two.

Temporary repairs were made to Helena, including various piping systems, electric wiring, etc. On 21 December Helena was undocked and on 5 January 1942 she sailed on half power for the Mare Island Navy Yard where permanent repairs were completed.


Maryland was berthed inboard of Oklahoma. She was struck by two 15-inch armor-piercing bombs. Fortunately both bombs had a low level of detonation. The first struck the forecastle awning and tore a hole about 12 feet by 20 feet and caused some damage in the compartments below. The second entered the hull at the 22 foot water level at frame 10. It exploded within the ship and caused considerable flooding. The bow was down about five feet.

Since a dry dock was not available, the Navy Yard, assisted by the forces afloat, made repairs without docking. A small caisson was fitted over the hole on the port side. When sufficient pumping facilities were available to control the flooding, temporary repairs were easy to complete. Maryland was fully repaired and ready for action by 20 December.


Tennessee was moored inboard of West Virginia and became wedged hard against the forward quay as the latter ship settled and finally sank to the


bottom. Arizona's oil fire engulfed the stern of the vessel and caused serious fires aft, especially in the officers' quarters on the second deck.

The explosion of the magazines aboard Arizona showered Tennessee with burning powder and debris. The forward magazines were purposely flooded as a precaution against the many fires on the ship. These fires were ominous for a long period and were so intense as to warp the stern plates and cause some pulling out of hull rivets.

In order to minimize fires the vessel played several water hoses over the stern to keep the burning oil on the water at a distance. Also the engines were turned over to make five knots and the wake was effective in keeping the oil clear of the ship. There was no movement of the ship even when the engines were run at ten knots. This shows how securely the ship was wedged between West Virginia and the quay.

The vessel was struck by two bombs of the 15 or 16-inch armor-piercing type from high-level bombers. Both bombs had a low order of detonation, or perhaps did not explode at all.

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

USS Tennessee, showing penetration of bomb through catapult and top of turret III.


The first bomb hit the centerline gun of turret II, causing the barrel to crack. All three guns were rendered inoperable. The second bomb passed through the roof plate of turret III and damaged the structure and the rammer of the left gun.

Several attempts were made to free the ship. About 650,000 gallons of oil were removed by pumping while work progressed on the quay and its buffer. The work proved more onerous than expected and was finished by dynamite blasting about 16 December. In the meantime, repair ship Medusa and the Navy Yard patched the warped plates by welding, and blanked off a number of air ports. When Tennessee was finally freed she was moved to the Navy Yard where all inside damage was repaired. The ship was ready for service by 20 December .


Vestal was berthed outboard of the ill-fated Arizona. The first torpedo which hit the latter ship probably passed under Vestal. That vessel saw many of the torpedoes which hit Arizona and some which missed both ships.

Vestal was struck with two bombs which were dropped by dive-bombers early in the attack. They were, from Japanese surrender accounts, the 250 kilogram type although the ship assumed that they were the 15 or 16-inch armor-piercing variety. The first bomb hit the forecastle about 0805 and passed through several decks at about frame 43. This bomb exploded in the metal storeroom where the prevalence of metal products deadened the explosion and prevented the bomb from passing through other decks or the shell. Consequently there was no flooding, but the lower platform deck and other structures were badly ruptured.

The second bomb was dropped from an elevation of about 1000 feet and struck the ship aft. It passed entirely through the vessel before exploding, and caused serious flooding. It lowered the stern about ten feet and produced a port list of about seven degrees.

When the fuel oil between the two ships became ignited the captain of Vestal decided to move. The vessel got underway about 0830, aided by two tugs as the ship's steering gear was inoperative. After coming to anchor it was decided that the damage was so extensive as to warrant beaching. Accordingly she got underway again at 0950 and grounded herself on Aiea Shoal.


Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

USS Vestal after beaching.

Vestal was a repair ship, and her own artisans undertook the repair work. The temporary work was quite satisfactory but Vestal was placed in drydock as soon as one was available at the Navy Yard. The Yard finished permanent repairs on 18 February.

The lesson to be learned from Vestal's experience is that water-tight integrity cannot be counted on in the case of older vessels. This ship was about thirty-three years old at the time, and it was found that flooding was progressive through the bulkhead and deck boundaries which supposedly were watertight.


Raleigh was struck by a torpedo early in the attack. Like Utah, she occupied a berth usually used by an aircraft carrier. At 0756 the two torpedoes were dropped about 300 yards from the ship. One hit the ship below the eighty pound armor belt and another passed about twenty-five yards ahead of the ship. The one which hit the ship caused immediate flooding of the two forward boiler rooms and the forward engine room.


Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal - page 196

Map showing position of Vestal During and After Bombing Attack.

General Quarters was sounded at once, and the anti-aircraft battery went into action promptly. Men not at the guns were ordered to jettison weights on the port side, especially those high up on the ship.

About 0900 the ship received a bomb hit from a dive-bomber. This was dropped from about 800 feet and passed through three decks and out the side of the ship. It exploded clear of the vessel at frame 112 and caused damage typical of a near-miss. Luckily the compartment, which held 3,500 gallons of aviation gasoline, was left intact.

The ship counterflooded, but the construction of the ship was not favorable to a great deal of counterflooding as loss of buoyancy was more important than list. Due to defective hatches the main deck had some free water surface, which, added to that produced by the damage, was almost fatal. The jettisoning of topside weights and the reduction of free surface by pumping water from the main deck saved the ship. It certainly would have


been lost in a seaway, as it developed negative stability. This was gradually overcome, partly by lashing an available barge alongside.

Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941

USS Raleigh after taking one torpedo hit amidships and one bomb hit aft.

Raleigh is an unusual case. The ship was almost lost even with moderate damage. The Commander Battleships commended the captain and crew for saving the ship by remedial actions.

The ship's force and repair ships repaired most of the inside damage to the ship, after removing almost all of the fuel, oil, and water which were aboard. It was not until 3 January that the Navy Yard had Drydock Number One available. Then the Yard completed permanent repairs to the hull and bulkheads until undocking on 14 February. Soon Raleigh departed on one engine for Mare Island where new engine parts were provided and electrical repairs made.


The seaplane tender Curtiss was moored near the Ford Island Air Station. General Quarters was immediately sounded and all guns were in action within five minutes. By 0825 the enemy planes were repulsed. At 0840


Curtiss sighted a submarine periscope at 700 yards and promptly opened fire when the submarine partly surfaced. Two hits were made by 5-inch projectiles from number 3 gun.

Damage to Curtiss resulted from an enemy aircraft colliding with the forward crane. The enemy plane burned on the boat deck. This occurred at 0905. Another bombing attack occurred at 0912. One bomb fell on the mooring buoy aft and two bombs fell alongside. Fragment damage from these three bombs was considerable. Another bomb struck the starboard side of the boat deck, passed through three decks, and exploded on the main deck causing considerable damage.

These bombs were about 250 kilograms, measured about 12 inches in diameter, and carried about 130 pounds of TNT. They were released by dive-bombers from a height of about 300 to 400 feet.

The widespread damage caused by fragments to the piping, electric wires, steam lines, and ammunition supply, etc. overshadowed entirely the structural damage which they caused. Even the after engine room was affected by fragments from the bomb hit. Many fires were started and these were difficult to extinguish due to smoldering cork insulation and poor lighting.

Much of the fragment damage could have been prevented by use of some armor, which was forbidden in auxiliary vessels under the arms limitation treaties. Later designs provided two-inch splinter protection for sixty percent of the length, as well as splinter protection for gun, fire control, and ship control stations.

The Navy Yard undertook repairs to Curtiss on two separate availabilities; the first was from 19 to 27 December. When replacement parts were received, Curtiss was in the Yard from 26 April to 28 May 1942. At that time final repairs were made.


We have seen how Helm got underway promptly and patrolled the waters for submarines outside of Pearl Harbor. She was attacked by a dive-bomber at 0915 when about five miles southwest of Aloha Tower. Helm reported that the enemy fighter dropped two bombs from a height of about 1000 feet. The first fell about 100 to 150 feet off the port bow, and the other about 30 feet to starboard abreast frame 10.

The second bomb deluged with water the forecastle and the gun director.


Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal - page 199

USS Curtiss, showing starboard crane which was struck by Japanese aircraft out of control.

No fragments were observed. The forward part of the ship suffered considerable damage from the near-miss. The foundation of the gun director steadily grew worse, and the flooding forward was severe in the peak tanks and forward compartments. Some damage occurred due to short circuiting and kicking out of circuit breakers in the forward part of the ship.

Helm was drydocked in the Yard's marine railway on 15 January 1942. Here permanent repairs were made to the shell plating, structure forward, gun directors, and electrical lines. The shell plating showed the effects of the near-miss. Shear lines were seen forward of bulkhead 14. The practical effects of the near-miss were in accordance with the naval architectural theory.




Ships Sunk At Pearl Harbor




Ships Sunk At Pearl Harbor

There was a general feeling of depression throughout the Pearl Harbor area when it was seen and firmly believed that none of the ships sunk at Pearl Harbor would ever fight again. The scene to the newcomer was foreboding indeed. Nevada was near the entrance channel and was a sorry spectacle to greet the eye of the new arrival. Yet she was the best of the lot. It did not seem possible that Shaw or California, and especially West Virginia and Oglala, would ever be able to take part in the war. Yet we had embarked on a long war and most of these ships were yet to prove their mettle. In fact, even though Shaw, Cassin, Downes, and Oglala were officially reported as lost, they eventually fought against the Japanese.


Shaw was in Floating Drydock Number Two when hit by three bombs from the same dive-bombers that attacked Nevada about 0850. The first two bombs came from port to starboard and apparently hit just aft of 5-inch gun number 1. They penetrated the forecastle and main decks and exploded with a low order of detonation in the crew's mess on the first platform deck. These bombs, according to Japanese records, were the 250 kilogram type, and were in part responsible for severing the bow forward of the bridge.

The third bomb was of the same type and passed through the bridge. It exploded in the wardroom pantry, and ruptured the fuel oil tanks, scattering burning oil throughout that portion of the ship. The heat from this oil fire caused the forward magazines to blow up. This wrecked the forward part of the ship as far back as frame 65.

When the floating drydock sank, the forward section of the ship went down with it, but the area from frame 60 aft was buoyant and remained afloat. There was considerable flooding of the forward boiler rooms, and the after boiler rooms had 10-15 inches of water. This entered through leaks in


the periphery of bulkhead 106 but was controlled by the portable gasoline pump procured next day from the Navy Yard.

<p>80-G-32769: Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. USS Shaw (DD 373) in floating drydock after the attack.</p>

USS Shaw in Floating Drydock Number Two, showing damage after magazine explosion demolished the ship just forward of the bridge.

Shaw was originally reported as a total loss but its machinery was in good condition. It was only from frame 65 forward that the vessel was severely injured. Accordingly, the forward part was entirely cut off and the portion abaft frame 60 was docked on the Yard's marine railway on 19 December. At that time the Navy Yard took measurements for the fabrication of a false bow. This was installed on Shaw on 26 January 1942 when the ship subsequently was docked on Floating Drydock Number Two.

The Navy Yard scrapped the bridge area of Shaw and installed a temporary mast and. ship control station. The vessel was undocked on 4 February, and after a few trials departed for Mare Island on 9 February. She was the first severely damaged vessel to put to sea, and there was great jubilation at Pearl Harbor to see her leave under her own power only two months


<p>NH 64481 USS Shaw (DD-373)</p>

USS Shaw burning in Floating Drydock Number Two.

after she was given up for lost. She was under command of Commander W. G. Jones.

Soon she became a first-line destroyer and took an active part in World War II. She performed a variety of duties common to a destroyer from the fall of 1942 until the end of the war. These duties ranged from bombardent of enemy islands to picket duty. She ran aground on a reef near Noumea, New Caledonia in January 1943 but was freed and drydocked after six days. Before World War II ended, Shaw won eleven battle stars, including those for the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands in 1942, Guadalcanal, Leyte Operation in 1944, and the Southern Philippines in 1945.


This floating drydock was subjected to a heavy blitz about 0850. The Japanese planes were dive-bombers dropping 250 kilogram bombs, five of which fell near the floating drydock. She was submerged for protection.

Four of the bombs impaired her watertight integrity. At least 155 holes were welded or plugged by divers before she was raised on 9 January 1942.


She had rested on the bottom of Pearl Harbor for over a month at an angle of over fifteen degrees. Besides the damage from fragments she suffered from the fires which occurred on Shaw.

This floating dock was restored to service on 25 January 1942, and the next day she docked Shaw as her first customer since the morning of 7 December. For some time she operated on a limited basis because of a large hole which had not yet been repaired. It was not until 15 May that she was considered as good as new.


This small tug was in the floating drydock with Shaw. It appeared to be a total loss, and little attention was paid to her at first. Her name was against her, as it sounded Japanese. However, Sotoyomo commemorates a part of the war-like Sioux tribe of Indians. The tug proved that it was properly named.

It was taken in hand by the recently arrived Pearl Harbor Repair and Salvage Unit, under command of Lieutenant Commander K. F. Home. The organization's original name was Destroyer Repair Units I and II and was composed of about 6 officers and 60 men, all of whom were specialists. They were housed and messed separately from the rank and file of the Salvage Organization. While Sotoyomo was their first assignment, they also proved their worth later in floating the famous Cassin and Downes. To them was added a group of about seventy other ship salvage experts.

The Sotoyomo was totally submerged. She suffered severely from Shaw's fires and had some fragmentation damage. The Navy Yard ordered spare parts for the vessel which did not arrive until late in the summer. However, it soon assumed full-time duty as a small much-needed tug at Pearl Harbor.


These two vessels were a sorry spectacle indeed, as can be seen from the illustration on page 207. They were docked forward of Pennsylvania, and were the victims of serious fires, much fragmentation, and precautionary flooding of the drydock. After the attack Cassin and Downes were reported as total losses. The big question seemed to be how to get them clear of the


USS Cassin (DD-372) USS Downes (DD-375)

Downes (upright) and Cassin in Drydock Number One.

drydock. They had gone through every kind of ordeal which ships could be subjected to, from bomb hits to severe fires, to explosions, to fragmentation damage, etc. These vessels were the only ones of the Pearl Harbor group that suffered all the kinds of damage enumerated, for which reason they are given special attention.

The bombs which struck or exploded near Cassin and Downes were the 250 kilogram type and were dropped by both high-level and dive-bombers. Incendiary bombs were not dropped as was reported originally by ship crews.

High-level planes were active in the area at about 0815, but it was not until 0850 that ten or fifteen dive-bombers approached. About ten of these attacked Nevada while the remainder covered the ships in Drydock Number One and in the floating drydock. At this time a hit was scored on Cassin. It went out through the bottom of the ship at frame 140 and struck the drydock floor between Cassin and Downes, starting a fire immediately. A few


minutes later a bomb struck the edge of the dock on the starboard side, and another on the port side. These hits cut off the water supply of the Yard and also the electric power. A second bomb struck Cassin and passed through the ship in the vicinity of frame 60. The fragments from this bomb penetrated both ships and their fuel oil tanks. By this time the oil fires extended the full length of both ships, and both were being abandoned when the second bomb landed. The third bomb hit Downes and demolished the director platform, the bridge, and the charthouse.

The fuel oil fires eventually reached the depth charges and the torpedoes. Without adequate water the fires raged on both ships and in the drydock. The Yard desired to flood the drydock as early as 0815 but no action was taken for an hour. At that time Cassin came afloat astern and pivoted on her forefoot. This, together with the free surface, caused Cassin to become unstable. She fell over on Downes. The fuel oil fires caused havoc before the water level was high enough to protect the hulls of the two ships. The fragments from the first bomb penetrated the oil tanks of both vessels and loose oil fed the fires which were started. The thick black smoke, which is characteristic of burning fuel oil, prevented the crews from fighting the fires which engulfed both ships.

Explosions on Downes were the cause of much of the damage. The bomb hits were not in themselves of real account. The explosions were caused by fuel oil tanks becoming overheated, by 5-inch ammunition in ready boxes, by the powder in the forward magazine, and either by torpedo air flasks or torpedo warheads. Regardless of which part of the torpedoes was the real culprit, one of the assemblies was found in the yard seventy-five feet from its starting point. The force of the explosions was sufficient to wreck everything in its path. The most severe damage on Downes was caused by a torpedo explosion near the after stack. Here a large hole in the deck and side resulted.

The damage to the hulls of the two destroyers from oil fires, the toppling of Cassin, and explosions, etc. was extensive. Both vessels were pocked with holes. As for Cassin, the flat keel was warped and was about 18 inches above the baseline, the hull was hogged (raised in the middle) from 10 to 17 inches, the bow was about two feet high, and both struts were out of position. The shell plating of Cassin was badly wrinkled especially on the starboard side.

Downes was in worse shape as regards longitudinal strength. The bow was nearly 40 inches high, the stern 40 inches low, and the hull twisted and