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PROCEEDINGS OF THE HART INQUIRY
SATURDAY, MARCH 11, 1944
SIXTH DAY
                                                          NAVY DEPARTMENT,
                                                          Washington, D. C. 

The examination met at 9:30 a. m.

Present: Admiral Thomas C. Hart, U. S. Navy, Retired, examining officer, and his counsel and assistant counsel.

Ship's Clerk Charles O. Lee, U. S. Naval Reserve, took seat as reporter and was warned that the oath previously taken was still binding.

The examining officer decided to postpone the reading of the record of proceedings of the fifth day of the examination until such time as it shall be reported ready, and in the meantime to proceed with the examination.

No witnesses not otherwise connected with the examination were present.

Admiral Claude C. Bloch, U. S. Navy, Retired, was recalled as a witness by the examining officer, and was warned that the oath previously taken was still binding.

Examined by the examining officer:

1. Q. Admiral, in your earlier testimony before this examination you referred to a joint agreement signed by the Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department and yourself as Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District covering the use of aircraft. I show you a document which is contained in the Secret-Confidential Files of the Navy Department. Could you identify this document, sir?

A. This document that I have before me was sent to the Chief of Naval Operations in a letter dated 1 May 1941 and was signed by me and is the document which I referred to previously. The letter was two enclosures: "B", which is the joint agreement referred to, and "C", a joint estimate of Base Defense Air and Army Air Force Commanders; dated 31 March 1942.

The document was introduced in evidence by the examining officer.

Note: Because of the secret nature of the document, it was returned, at the conclusion of the examination, to the Secret-Confidential Files of Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, D. C. A description of the document introduced in evidence is appended marked "Exhibit 22".

2. Q. Admiral, I noted that this document, Exhibit 22, is dated before the issuing of the latest JCD, which is before this examination as Exhibit 5. Did this Exhibit 22 go out of effect with the issuing of the new JCD, Exhibit 5?

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A. No. JCD-42, which was signed subsequently to this air agreement, contains a provision in Paragraph 21 that Annexes I to VII continue effective with JCD-42.

3. Q. Then this agreement with respect to aircraft, which is Exhibit 22, was in effect up until the time of the attack, Admiral?

A. Yes, sir.

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4. Q. Admiral, also in your earlier testimony, you have referred to a letter written by you as Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District concerning the security of Pearl Harbor, and to the endorsement of the Commander-in-Chief thereon. I show you a file which has been taken from the Secret-Confidential Files of the Navy Department and ask you whether you can identify the basic letter and the first endorsement thereon ?

A. I identify this letter as being the letter I referred to.

The document was introduced in evidence by the examining officer.

Note: Because of the secret nature of the document, at the conclusion of the examination it was returned to the Secret-Confidential Files of Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, D. C. A description of the document introduced in evidence is appended marked "Exhibit 23".

5. Q. Admiral, having read this letter again, is there anything that you would like to state with respect to its contents?

A. I might invite attention to the fact that this letter, dated 30 December 1940, calls attention to the lack of reconnaissance planes and to the necessity for having to use reconnaissance planes from the Fleet as the District forces had no such planes. I also wish to invite attention to an error made concerning the vessels of Destroyer Division 80. It was stated in the letter that the vessels of that Division had listening gear. As a matter of fact, only one vessel of this Division had listening gear at the time of Pearl Harbor attack. By listening gear, I am referring to supersonics. Throughout the letter are constant references to the lack of suitable craft for the proper protection of an important base. Mention is made also in the letter of the lack of defense of Lualualei and Kaneohe. Subsequent to the time of writing this letter, I took up with the Commanding General the question of the defense of Kaneohe. When the Kaneohe Air Station was established, there was in existence a standing agreement between the Army and Navy that the Army would not have to defend Kaneohe, as they had said that they could not do it. This agreement had been made by some predecessor of mine. The Commanding General agreed with me that the Army should defend Kaneohe and a rough scheme of defense was drawn up and forwarded to Washington and the Joint Planners of the Army and Navy agreed to the Army taking over the defense of Kaneohe. The Army had also insisted that Lualualei could not be defended, although I understand, at the present time, they now admit that it can be defended. In the endorsement of the Commander-in-Chief, I wish to invite attention to his opinion, on the 7th of January, 1941, of the improbability of an air attack under present conditions and also to his opinion on that date that there was no practicable way of placing torpedo baffles or nets within the Harbor without greatly limiting the activities within the Harbor and interference with the take-off of patrol planes. I also further wish to invite attention to the Commander-in-Chief's opinion, expressed paragraph 5 of his endorsement, that adequate and sufficient forces

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should be supplied with a higher priority than was to be given to continental districts.

6. Q. Admiral. in your thinking, with respect to any possible attack on Pearl Harbor, prior to the time of the attack, did you ever consider the influence on public opinion in the United States that such an attack as occurred would produce?

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A. I can not say that I'd ever seriously considered, nor did I hear anybody else talk about, what the effect on public opinion would be by an attack made on Pearl Harbor.

7. Q. Admiral, did you, in your shore establishments at Pearl Harbor, have any anti-aircraft weapons?

A. There were Marine defense battalions coming and going at Pearl Harbor. They were part of the Fleet Marine Force and were sent out primarily for the purpose of garrisoning the island bases. I think at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, there was one such Marine battalion at Pearl Harbor and they had some anti-aircraft weapons. Our plan was made to turn those over to the Army for anti-aircraft defense or Army control, and after the attack they were turned over. Normally, a defense battalion had twelve three-inch anti-aircraft guns and a number of .50 calibre guns. Whether this battalion had all of those weapons, or not, I don't remember.

8. Q. How about your own Marine detachments, Sir, were they provided with anti-aircraft weapons?

A. They had nothing that I know of except their small arms and machine guns, and they were not intended for anti-aircraft. Of course, they could be used and probably were on the 7th of December.

9. Q. Admiral, were there any attempts at sabotage within the naval establishments at Pearl Harbor on the 7th of December, 1941?

A. Prior to the 7th of December, we had many complaints that our internal security orders were unnecessarily rigid, but I believe they were all reasonable and sound, and the mere fact that, so far as I know there was never any sabotage at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of one or two isolated cases, both of which were disgruntled sailors, leads me to believe that they had a highly deterrent effect. There was no sabotage on the 7th of December, insofar as I know.

10. Q. Had you instituted any conditions of readiness with respect to such guards and other personnel as were under your command with respect to protection from sabotage?

A. I recall none, except our regular security orders.

11. Q. Reverting to this document, labeled Exhibit 22, there is attached thereto a joint estimate concerning air action which is dated 31 March and is signed by Major General Martin and Rear Admiral Bellinger. Under the heading of "Possible Enemy Action" appears the following: "It appears that the most likely and dangerous form of attack on Oahu would be an air attack. It is believed that at present such an attack would most likely be launched from one or more carriers which would probably approach inside of 300 miles." Was that estimate carried through and was any particular attention paid to it by the higher command echelon, including you?

A. The joint agreement made between the Commanding General and the Commandant became an annex under JCD-42 and was ef-

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fective. Every Force Commander necessarily had to get out his orders. Although Admiral Bellinger was a Naval Base Defense Air Officer, under CL2, he had also been one of the important officers in working with the Army to reach the joint agreement, and he and General Martin made plans to implement the joint agreement, and this joint order is the plan. The Commandant of the [89] District received the order and it must be assumed that he was familiar with it. In the joint operation plan, Admiral Bellinger and General Martin made certain decisions, one of which was that their force would locate the attack forces initiating hostile action against Oahu, and, on page 4, under section 4, they made some discussion of their search plans. In this discussion, it was stated: "A search plan will be desirable. It can only be effectively maintained with the present personnel and materiel for a very short period and as a practicable measure cannot, therefore, be undertaken unless other intelligence indicates a surface raid is probable within rather narrow time limits." On page 8, under section 5, there was included a discussion of conditions of readiness for the air forces. In this discussion, General Martin and Admiral Bellinger referred to establishing a procedure whereby the conditions of readiness to be maintained by each unit is, at all times, prescribed by the senior officers present of the Army and Navy as a result of all information currently available to them. Whether or not I concurred with the surveys of opposing strength and the possible enemy action and the action open to us in the joint plan, I can not remember definitely as to details. But I feel quite certain that, generally speaking, I took no exception to their plan.

12. Q. You have testified that prior to 7 December you thought the probability of a Japanese carrier air raid was very remote. In formulating that opinion at the time, did you have in mind the opinion expressed by General Martin and Admiral Bellinger?

A. I don't know. I was of the opinion that a carrier attack against Hawaii, preceding a declaration of war, was remote. Just what all of the logical processes were that caused me to arrive at that conclusion, I'm unable to say, but I believe that one important consideration was my belief that a large body of surface vessels, which would be necessary to launch such attacks, could not cross a large expanse of water, which they would have to cross, without our having prior knowledge.

13. Q. Do you remember whether or not the existence of that formally expressed opinion by those two officers who, presumably, were the most experienced in their own line, was generally known in the upper echelons of command around Oahu?

A. The Commander-in-Chief had a copy of this Joint Air Operating Plan and he had on his Staff competent officers and I think it is fair to assume that he must have known about the plan. I also believe that General Short must have known about the plan.

14. Q. I'm questioning you particularly as regards this formal joint estimate by those two officers. Did you know of any other formally expressed opinions that were given by officers experienced in aviation on that particular point?

A. I can not definitely say any certain officer had ever expressed an opinion that such an attack was improbable. I had considerable contact with Admiral Halsey, who was Commander, Air Battle Force, as

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did the Commander-in-Chief. I had considerable contact with Captain Martin, who was in Command of the Air Station at Kaneohe, and Captain Shoemaker, who was in Command of the Air Station at Ford Island. I do not recall specifically any comment one way or the other by these officers. Yet, I very definitely had the opinion that an attack by air, prior to declaration of war, was remote. Unquestionably, this opinion can not have been [90] reached by me independent of all other opinions and conversations that I had with other officers. At this late date, and even at the time of the Roberts Commission's meeting, I was unable to analyze my opinion and to determine the various factors which had caused me to reach that opinion.

15. Q. Then you are unable to give me any clue to any other formally expressed opinion on the point by air officers; is that right?

A. I am not able to give you any clue to any other expressed opinion by air officers.

16. Q Admiral, is it proper to say that the situation, during 1941, was with the Pacific Fleet held in a "position of readiness" at Pearl Harbor?

A. The Fleet arrived in Pearl Harbor in April, 1940, and never departed in its entirety up until December 7. What the reasons were for keeping it in Pearl Harbor, I can only guess. I think that all Fleet officers, all people connected with the Fleet, endeavored to keep it in a state of "readiness".

17. Q. Then you think the expression "position of readiness", applied to the location of the Fleet, is not really correct?

As I stated before, I can only guess as to the reasons why the Fleet was kept in Hawaii.

18. Q. From your observation up until, say, November, '41, what did you feel was the overall effect upon actual war readiness of the Fleet, having maintained its position in Hawaiian waters over such a long period?

A. I know that the Commander-in-Chief, in 1940, was somewhat concerned over the stay of the Fleet in Hawaiian waters and that he took steps to arrange having small detachments of the Fleet go back to the West Coast for short periods. I think that after 1940-1941, prior to December 7, that the Fleet was forced to carry out its exercises and training under conditions which imposed considerable strain. I mean by this that the Fleet had to conduct exercises and yet, at the same time, had to take certain measures to be ready to defend itself in case of a sudden attack, and such conditions, over an extended period of time, must necessarily have imposed considerable anxiety upon responsible officers.

l9. Q. What was your observation of the effect of those conditions that you just mentioned?

A. I can not give any accurate impressions. In my own position, I had so many things of my own that were closer to me and with which I was more intimately concerned, that I didn't have very much time or opportunity to note what was taking place in the Fleet.

20. Q. You recall that certain of the Pacific Fleet's forces were detached somewhere during 1941, some of those detachments going to the Atlantic permanently, insofar as it was known, another de-

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tachment going to the South Pacific. Did you notice any particular effect on mental attitudes due to those occurrences?

A. In a general way, I knew that detachments of the Fleet were going to other places. I knew specifically that certain cruisers went to Australia and New Zealand. I knew that, on one occasion, the entire [91] Fleet was ordered to go to mid-Pacific, east of Hawaii, and remain in a condition of radio silence and without knowledge on the part of anyone as to where they were for a long period of time. But what the reasons were for these movements or what the effects were on our own personnel, I don't know.

21. Q. I believe that in your area a great deal of construction work preparation of new installations, was in progress in 1941; is that correct?

A. That is correct.

22. At the time, did you think that those installations were generally too elaborate and hence being completed too slowly to accord with the general situation that faced our Nation?

A. At Pearl Harbor, there were two projects of paramount importance, one of which was a new, big dry-dock, another of which was two smaller, twin dry-docks, and a third was underground fuel oil storage. These projects were pressed to my utmost, and, being of somewhat impatient temperament, I naturally thought they were going too slow, although actually the record will show that they progressed very rapidly. There were innumerable other projects such as the Air Station at Kaneohe, rehabilitation of Ford Island, the Air Station at Barbers Point, the Air Station on Maui, which were all underway, to say nothing of new cold storage plants, new wharves, new docks, barracks, new improvised Marine camp to take care of five thousand Marines; all on Oahu. Then over and above these were the island bases: Palmyra, Johnson, Midway, and Wake. These island bases had been originally conceived as being very small. They were only to consist of a deep water area for seaplanes taking off, and certain minor things, such as gasoline stowage, and small living facilities As time went on, they expanded in their scope. Midway was required to have a landing strip. Midway became quite a considerable air station. Midway was planned for quite a considerable submarine base. All of these things placed quite a load on the District, and our natural tendency was to endeavor to simplify to the barest essentials. General requests for revisions of plans and for expansions came from the Fleet itself, and in all of those cases, after discussing the matters involved with the Commander-in-Chief or his representative, the Fleet wishes were followed, if the Commander-in-Chief felt they were necessary. Wake Island was not started until 1941. Prior to starting it, I wrote to the Navy Department, via the Commander-in-Chief, and asked if the place should be started at this late date. The Navy Department replied, in what I considered to be a rather unusual communication, to the effect that the Commander-in-Chief and the Commandant were the officers on the spot and they would have to make the decision. This having been thrown in our laps, the Commander-in-Chief and I considered the question. I was of the opinion that Wake would be untenable and that it was a mistake to start it. The Commander-in-Chief heard me and discussed it with officers of his Staff, in my presence, and the decision was to start it. This station was a station of considerable extent and the final plans contemplated

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seaplane base, air strip, and some submarine facilities. Maui Air Station was started as an improvement to the municipal airport to accommodate wheel planes, with small barracks and facilities to accommodate one carrier group. Before the original plans had been completed, approved extensions were underway to make it a much larger place than ever was contemplated. [90] In the light of hindsight, I don't say that these extensions were incorrect. More probably they were correct but, at that time, my idea was to complete the places as quickly as possible and get the civilian component out and get the garrisons in.

23. Q. Were the designs and specifications on broad lines fixed by Navy Department or by the authorities in Hawaii?

A. Originally, the designs were fixed by the Navy Department, but as the work became greater and greater, details of design were largely left to the District.

24. Q. But on broad lines, everything about those installations was then decided by the Navy Department, rather than by local authorities?

A. In fact, all construction work had to receive the decision of the Navy Department, because expenditures of funds were involved and the funds had to be forthcoming from the Navy Department.

25. Q. Reverting to my original question on this subject, did you consider that any or all of these installations were conceived on too elaborate lines and, consequently, slow of construction.

A. I felt that my position as the Commandant of the District was one of service and when ideas occurred to me that something was too elaborate or too expensive, or possibly was not necessary, I would present my argument, but if the Commander-in-Chief, who would have to use these facilities, stated that he wanted them, my job was to do them. As far as the extravagance and expansiveness of the project was concerned, I believe that all of the specific plans of structure were fairly simple and as inexpensive as they could be made, under the circumstances.

26. Q. In, say, November, i941, were you or others in the high command echelon that you know of particularly worried about the situation in the outlying islands?

A. I will say that I think the Commander-in-Chief and the Commandant of the District were both concerned about the situation in the outlying bases.

The witness was duly warned.

The examining officer then, at 10:41 a. m., took a recess until 11:13 a. m., at which time the examination was reconvened.

Present: The examining officer, his counsel and assistant counsel, the reporter, and the witness.

No witnesses not otherwise connected with the examination were present.

Admiral Claude C. Bloch, U. S. Navy, Retired, the witness under examination when the recess was taken, entered. He was warned that the oath previously taken was still binding, and continued his testimony.

[93]

Examination by the examining officer: (Continued)

27. Q. Was it what you would call a primary worry?

A. All of the outlying bases with the exception of Palmyra were dependent upon distilling plants for their water. Therefore, their capacity to support personnel was limited by their distilling capacity.

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This meant that as long as civilian workmen were on the islands working on public works, not as many military personnel as was desirable could be placed in the garrisons. We were also much concerned about our ability to supply the islands with the necessary items of stores and food, as at no time did we ever have what we considered to be adequate transportation. The Commander-in-Chief actually had to supply cruisers to transport personnel and equipment. The concern of the Naval authorities was heightened in the summer of 1941 by the request of the Army to ferry bombers to the Far East via Midway and Wake. This meant additional supplies of gasoline and so forth. Concern was also involved by the decision of the Army to build a separate line of bases, whereby planes could be ferried from Hawaii southward to the Australian area, and the amount of naval effort which would unquestionably be required to assist them. In the late autumn of 1941 the question was raised by the Army and Navy authorities in Washington about garrisoning the outlying bases with Army personnel and using Army planes on them for defense purposes. All of these questions caused much concern and many cases compromises had to be reached which were forced by circumstances then existing.

28. Q. In, say, November, 1941, was the security of the outlying islands as against a surprise attack, a primary worry to you and others in the high echelon of command?

A. It was a concern of some weight. In some way, I had gotten a date fixed in my mind that any move on the part of Japan would be April or May. How I got this information or from what source I don't know, but in connection with Wake Island, I had spent some personal effort and a great deal of District effort in devising a means to use the lagoon there by ships of moderate draft, so that it could be completed prior to April or May 1942, rather than the original plan, which would have required several months longer. The Commander-in-Chief was anxious to put a large garrison in Wake Island when the water capacity of the island would only support about 1500 men. In order to expedite construction work there, a minimum force of about 1050 was required, so this limited the garrison on Wake to, roughly speaking, between four and five hundred. At Midway, there was a large garrison, in the neighborhood of 1,000 men, but a larger garrison could be put there as soon as the civilians were evacuated. They could not be evacuated at that time, although the work was drawing to a close rapidly. In Johnston Island, there was particularly an acute situation. The islands are very small and the garrison was necessarily small in order that we could retain civilian workers. In Palmyra, we were working on a long airstrip and devoting every effort to its completion at the earliest possible date as the airstrip there, in conjunction with the airstrip which we were constructing in Samoa, formed a second chain for ferrying planes to the southwest. All of these matters caused concern. The security of bases depended upon dust when a war should break out and the condition of readiness at the time.

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29. Q. Were you no more apprehensive of a surprise attack on those outlying islands than you were of such an attack on Oahu?

A. I was more apprehensive about an attack on Guam, Wake and Midway, than I was of Oahu.

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30. Q. In late November, '41, did the concern and worry concerning those situations seem to influence anyone as regards the security on Oahu?

A. I'm not conscious of anyone lessening his alertness or concern over any part of his duties. If such was the case, it must have been unconscious because I'm fully convinced that everyone out there was trying his utmost to be on his toes all the time.

31. Q. A somewhat hypothetical question: Could the carrier raid of 7 December have damaged us more effectively and more lastingly if the objective of the attack had been directed against installations other than those which were attacked?

A. In my opinion, yes, we would have been damaged infinitely more than we were. At Pearl Harbor, on December 7, the objectives of the Japanese were, first, the air fields, and then capital ships of the Fleet. In my opinion, with a different method of attack, the Japanese might have caused our entire Fleet to sortie, to seek them out. We know accurately now what force was brought on the attack against Pearl Harbor. Had our ships been effective in making a concentration outside of Pearl Harbor, a serious question is in my mind as to whether or not the entire Fleet would not have been destroyed, in view of the powerful force that the Japanese had in the area. But even assuming that the form of attack that was made had been pursued vigorously against our oil supply, which was all above ground, against our drydocks, repair shops, barracks and other facilities, storehouses, I feel that insofar as the prosecution of the war was concerned, that we would have been very much worse hurt than we were by the attack on capital ships, even though we did have a tragic loss of life.

32. Q. Will you enlarge a little upon that statement as regards the oil tanks?

3. The oil storage, fuel and diesel at Oahu, amounted to approximately 4,000,000 barrels. All of this oil was stored in tanks above the ground, metal tanks, with the exception of one concrete tank embedded in the ground but visible from the air. These tanks were located in two groups of tanks known as the "Upper Farm" and "Lower Farm." They were immediately adjacent to the submarine base, industrial navy yard, hospital, and Hickam Field. Struck by bombs and set on fire, not only the reserve oil would have been destroyed but the burning oil would have flowed over the dykes and caused wide conflagration in the yard and general area. Ships desiring oil would have been unable to obtain it. Submarines desiring diesel oil would have been unable to obtain it. We had one drydock with a battleship in it, and two destroyers, on December 7. If the caisson had been breached, the dock would have been partially destroyed and the ships in it would have been wrecked; a serious casualty would have been the loss of our machine shops and the tools, our storehouses with the spare parts, spare torpedoes, storehouses with our food supply for 50,000 men for a hundred days and all the various elements that went [95] to make up the requirements of the base. An attack on the ammunition depot at Lualualei certainly would have destroyed our radio transmitting stations which were located there and might have destroyed some of the ammunition storage.

33. Q. It has been brought out that prior to 27 November, and extending back a considerable period, the Fleet had received from Wash-

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ington numerous warnings of impending difficulties with the Japanese. Were you, by late November, '41, so affected by that multiplicity Of warnings as to effect your reaction to the war warning which was given in definite form on 27 November?

A. Not consciously so, but there had been a number of warnings and I'm of the very definite recollection that the Commander-in-Chief preceding Admiral Kimmel, and Admiral Kimmel, himself, had received written warnings, possibly in personal correspondence from the Chief of Naval Operations. I'm very definitely of the impression that this same question had been discussed by Admiral Richardson and myself in 1940, and that either he or I or both of us had been of the impression that too many warnings were being given and that it might ultimately have a bad effect, but I think I can say that so far as I was conscious of it, in the end of November or early part of December, I knew of no lessening of sensitivity on my part, although, perhaps, such did exist. I was not conscious of it.

The examining officer did not desire to further examine this witness.

The examining officer informed the witness that he was privileged to make any further statement covering anything relating to the subject matter of the examination which he thought should be a mater of record in connection therewith, which had not been fully brought out by the previous questioning.

The witness made the following statement: I have mentioned in my previous testimony that I considered that the Navy Department had far more information about the general situation, the possibility or probability of hostilities, and the political situation than anybody, in Hawaii could possibly have, and that they were in a far better position to evaluate this information than we in the field were. Quite a number of warnings were sent out by the Department from October to December. Yet, with the seedings of all these warnings, the Navy Department never once saw fit to exercise the most certain way of placing everyone on the alert. In JCD-42, and I think in other war plans, the Navy Department had a means of putting into effect all of the war plans prior to "M" day, which would have the effect immediately of indicating to everyone concerned, not only in Oahu but in every other place, that, in their opinion, something was about to happen quickly. Such an action on the part of the Navy Department did not necessarily-did not mean that hostile action was to be undertaken by our forces, and I believe that that is so stated explicitly in some of the war plans. Yet, I believe that if this procedure had been adopted, it would have been far more effective than the sending out of a lot of information and warnings in various telegrams, and particularly inasmuch as the most important warning dealt largely with conditions in the Far East. I have ascertained, subsequent to December 7, that on or about the 27th of November, the State Department sent a note to the Japanese Government which, I believe, was [96] couched in the most positive and uncompromising terms. I knew nothing of this dispatch, nor do I believe anyone in Hawaii knew anything about it until after the 7th of December. In any evaluation, such a dispatch would have important weight.

The witness was duly warned and withdrew

The examining officer, then, at 11:49 a. m.; adjourned until 9:30 a. m., Monday, March 13,1944.


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