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PROCEEDINGS OF THE HART INQUIRY
TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 1944
EIGHTH DAY
                                                          NAVY DEPARTMENT,
                                                          Washington, D. C. 

The examination met at 2 p. 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 seventh 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.

A witness called by the examining officer entered and was informed of the subject matter of the examination as set forth in the preface to the testimony of Rear Admiral W. W. Smith, Record Page 32.

The witness was duly sworn.

Examined by the examining officer:

1. Q. Please state your name, rank, and present station.

A. Curts, M. E.; Captain, U. S. N.; Staff, CominCh.

2. Q. Where were you stationed on the 7th of December, 1941?

A. I was attached to the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, as Pacific Fleet Communication Officer.

3. Q. And how long had you been so serving prior to that date, approximately?

A. Approximately two years, under two different Commanders-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet.

4. Q. Had you ever had any previous experience of that nature?

A. Yes, sir; several years.

5. Q. With the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, established in a shore command post, through what agencies did you transact the Fleet's communications?

A. Insofar as practicable, and nearly to 100 per cent, in the same manner in which we would have communicated with the mobile units of the Fleet while aboard the U. S. S. PENNSYLVANIA, the Pacific Fleet Flag.

6. Q. Did you use the ships' installations?

A. We had our own radio station at the sub base to communicate with the ships in the Harbor and with the task force commanders at sea directly from that station. We also had facilities for utilizing the

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fixed radio communication facilities of radio station NPM, both by radio control and by land line in parallel. The installation ashore and the location of the [106] Commander-in-Chief's headquarters temporarily ashore, in no way hampered the mobile Fleet communications of the Commander-in-Chief and, to a certain degree, facilitated his communications with the shore activities of the Sea Frontier and the Army and the higher command echelons in the Continent.

7. Q. Then, in effect, you both received and transmitted at that station at the Submarine Base just the same as if you were on board the Flagship; is that true?

A. Yes. We paralleled the shore control lines with radio lines because of our apprehension to sabotage of the land lines. When on the morning of December 7 a bomb or a shell cut the majority of control lines in the Navy Yard, CinCPac did not lose control of transmitters which he was using to work the ships present in the Harbor, the task force commanders at sea, and all ships at sea.

8. Q. Didn't you have telephone lines to the ships that were berthed alongside?

A. No, sir, only few instance. Some of the ships had telephone lines on the regular Pearl Harbor exchange, but that circuit, in no sense, could be called a military circuit.

9. Q. Your communications between Headquarters and ships were entirely satisfactory in all respects then, I take it?

A. Yes; we never lost control of the radio lines even during the attack. We continued to handle combat traffic. Every ship in Pearl Harbor was guarding a common frequency, regardless of administrative organization. This circuit was supposed to be controlled by the Sea Frontier Commander and was primarily established for the issuance of fire control orders, as the batteries of such ships as were present had, by prior arrangement, been made available to the Sea Frontier Commander to assist him in defending the Naval Base.

10. Q. The Commander-in-Chief used the same call, same set of calls, whether he was afloat or ashore?

A. Yes, sir, we made no difference in our communications, external communications, while located at the sub base, from those ordinarily performed on the ship, except that for the Harbor circuit, of which I have previously spoken, which was under the control of the Sea Frontier Commander, who was also the District Commandant. We had special calls made up and promulgated for use on that circuit so that the Army, if they needed them, would have these calls available.

11. Q. Communications to the mainland and other points far removed, were always through Fourteenth Naval District equipment; is that right?

A. Yes, sir. Ordinarily the communications to Washington and the mainland were via radio station NPM, which station was under the control of the Fourteenth Naval District.

12. Q. Did the Commander-in-Chief have his own coding boards so that the District personnel had nothing to do with his dispatches?

A. Yes, sir, we operated exactly as though we were aboard ship, using the same facilities, and we kept ourselves mobile to the extent that we could go aboard ship at any time on two or three hours notice, with personnel, code ciphers, and some special equipment.

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[107]

13. Q. Still speaking of conditions as of November, '41, what arrangements were there under your charge for communication with Army and with Naval units on shore Hawaii, outside of Pearl Harbor?

A. In general, we communicated with the Army and the District by telephone.

14. Q. Was that through the city exchange?

A. No, sir, through the Pearl Harbor exchange. We, ourselves, had a switchboard which had trunk lines to the regular Pearl Harbor exchange and to the city exchange.

15. Q. Then everything went through the city switchboard?

A. No, sir. The District switchboard, or the switchboard at Pearl Harbor, had some but not all of the District facilities tied into its board. Others were obtainable through the city board. The telephone situation on Oahu, prior to December 7, was far from satisfactory. All trunk lines were overloaded, insufficient equipment was available to take care of the rapidly expanded Naval and Army facilities, and the civilian telephone company found itself in the same position in regard to civilian telephone service.

16. Q. Did the Army organizations on Oahu have direct telephone connection between their various posts and stations?

A. In general, yes, but by a very poor Army cable system, which was subject to constant breaks and deterioration from years of service. As a matter of fact, the Navy also used this Army cable system and it was partially because it was so unsatisfactory that I paralleled it with radio, in order that I might key the transmitters of NPM regardless of failures of this cable from either deliberate sabotage or because it was generally unreliable.

17. Q. Did you have a direct wire to that Army system?

A. Yes, sir, for keying of transmitters and I believe for some teletypes only; not for telephone.

18. Q. Admiral Kimmel's Headquarters was on the teletype system then?

A. I believe that prior to December 7, we had some teletypes installed. However, there was a great shortage of teletypes on the Island and but few of the units desiring same had been able to obtain them.

19. Q. Are you able to tell us anything about the means of communication with planes in the air in the vicinity of Oahu, including whether or not it was satisfactory ?

A. Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the communication with planes in the air was almost entirely through their base stations. In general, such communication was fairly satisfactory. After December 7, planes in the air were governed by the policy that all planes in a common mission, whether Army, Navy, Marine Corps, land or seaplanes, would be on a common frequency, and that the Shore Commander of this mission and the parent stations of the planes would all guard this common frequency.

20 Q. Was not that the case prior to 7 December; did not that machinery exist?

A. Only for drills, to the best of my recollection. As a matter of fact, the only missions assigned were drill missions.

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21. Q. Was it necessary, before conducting a drill, to make special arrangements for those communications?

A. Yes, sir.

[108]

22. Q. Do you recall any particular difficulty in communicating with the Air Station at Kaneohe Bay?

A. Yes, sir. Telephone service-teletype service to Kaneohe Bay from points on the Island of Oahu was entirely inadequate and, in several occasions, air commanders reported that it was quicker to take off from the southside of the Island and fly to Kaneohe than it was to try to telephone; with a considerable degree of truth. In addition, Kaneohe was established as a Naval Air Station with inadequate radio equipment. If my memory is correct, it was actually commissioned before a single piece of radio transmitter apparatus was furnished for installation on the Island by the Navy Department. There existed, insofar as their local radio communications were concerned, portable apparatus which was supposed to be used for landing forces and special use by CinCPac.

23. Q. Captain, looking back upon the few weeks leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, what stand out in your mind as your greatest difficulties of that time? I mean, of course, as regards your own place in the picture.

A. Personally, I had been apprehensive for a long time, not just two weeks, about the danger of Japan starting a war without formal declaration. Insofar as my own work was concerned, I was principally worried because, to my mind, there was not a single unity of command organization, either authorized or set up, and I believe anyone who has had any experience with military communications will agree that if command is not definite and not set up, it is well nigh impossible to anticipate the communication needs when an emergency occurs. I, personally, was very apprehensive of local sabotage, there being in the neighborhood of 160,000 Japanese on the Island of Oahu alone.

24. Q. In that sabotage, you mean particularly as against your important land lines?

A. I rather expected sabotage against both the land line control wires, the telephones, but more particularly against the transmitters and service proper of the shore installations outside of Pearl Harbor. It would have been possible also to have wrecked, with comparative ease, the transmission power lines of the electric companies, which were quite vital to our communications. I had an arrangement whereby, from local power at the sub base, I could key the transmitters in San Diego and carry on Fleet communications from that point. In fact, we often did so and we did so to a certain extent on the morning of December 7.

25. Q. As regards the Communication Officer of the Fourteenth Naval District, was he wholly independent of you or was he, with his own organization, fitted into your own organization?

A. Organizationally, he operated directly under the Commander of the Sea Frontier and of the Fourteenth Naval District. At all times, he, individually, was 100 per cent cooperative with us; and his attitude at all times was that the shore radio facilities under his command were primarily for service to the Fleet.

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26. Q. Do you remember if there was a considerable traffic congestion in, say, November '41, over the radio system between Oahu and the Continent?

A. No, I do not, sir.

27. Q. In the few weeks prior to 7 December, were you cognizant that there was much Japanese originated traffic, particularly outgoing traffic?

A. No, sir. You don't mean from the Island of Oahu?

[109]

28. Q. No.

A. No, sir, I was not, but I was not in the Intelligence Department of CinCPac Staff.

29. Q. Then that was a subject in which you had no responsibility and concerning which you were not informed, is that correct?

A. That is correct, sir.

30. Q. I believed you were stationed at the Experimental Laboratory, Bellevue, sometime in the past; if, so, when was it?

A. During 1936 to 1938.

31. Q. While there, did you have any duties in connection with the development of radar?

A. Yes, sir.

32. Q. What duties?

A. I was liaison officer for the Radio and Sound Division, and as such closely watched development of radar, contributed what I could to it, kept the Navy Department informed as to the progress thereon.

33. Q. Did you have any administrative work in connection with that development?

A. Yes, sir; practically all duties I just spoke of were administrative.

34. Q. You used the word "liaison."

A. Yes, sir. I controlled the funds, pushed the applications, endeavored to bring it over from a scientific study to an instrument which could be used aboard ship.

35. Q. You were then a sort of manager and steerer of the technicians and scientists who were working on the development; is that it?

A. Yes, sir; a steerer but not in direct control thereof.

36. Q. Was there anyone on the officer's list who was in any better such with that development when you left it in 1938 than you were?

A. I don't believe so, sir.

37. Q. What was the state of that development when you left, in general terms, as regards its application for war use?

A. In the summer of 1938, the frequencies, which we were then able to use with radar, had been so shortened that it was practical to install it on board ships of the carrier and battleship class. One model had been tested aboard a destroyer with some degree of success. It had been decided to build a shipboard radar copied directly after the one installed on top of the Naval Research Laboratory for tests on board a battleship.

38. Q. At that time, and using the laboratory installation under average conditions, how far could you detect a medium size plane in flight at the maximum altitudes at which planes fly?

A. The rotating model, at the Navy Research Laboratory, in the spring of 1938, was able to detect aircraft at the higher altitudes to

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distances up to 100 miles, with an azimuth discrimination of better than one degree and a position angle discrimination of approximately six degrees.

39. Q. At that time, had any knowledge of this development been communicated to the Army Signal Corps.

A. Yes, sir.

[110]

40. Q. When?

A. Radar, as we know it, was disclosed to the Army by permission of the Chief of Naval Operations, in about January, 1937. It did not appear at that time that we would be able to get a small enough antenna to work aboard ship, and because of its tremendous defensive value to the Army, full disclosure was made.

41. Q. After leaving Bellevue, were you able to keep in any sort of touch with subsequent developments?

A. I lost touch for about one year, except for minor information at the end of that year, I went to Staff communication duty and followed the development as closely as possible, being interested in its potentialities for the Fleet.

42. Q. In, say, the summer of 1941, how far had the Navy gotten towards actually using and installing radar on board ship?

A. There were approximately twenty search type (CXAM) radars installed on carriers, battleships, and cruisers.

43. Q. In general, what results were they giving as results search for aircraft?

A. From the low altitude positions aboard ship, they were, in general, reliable to distances in the neighborhood of seventy-five miles.

44. Q. What would be the relative difficulties of radar installations on board ship, as compared with similar installations on shore?

A. The principal difficulty of installing a radar aboard ship lies in the necessity of having a large antenna which must be free to rotate, either in its own right or by turning the ship. The larger the antenna is, the better angular discrimination will be obtained and to a lesser degree a better range will be obtained. Topside space on a ship is at a great premium. Similar conditions do not prevail ashore, and a fairly large structure built, if necessary, on a railroad turntable, can be erected.

45. Q. By the end of November, 1941, had the Army Signal Corps gotten to installing and being ready to work radar equipment?

A. In November, '41 the Air Warning Service for Oahu were installing radars on various points in the Island of Oahu. I should say that approximately four Air Warning Service radars had been installed at that time but they were definitely in a training status and were not being used as an integral part of the Air Warning Service except during brief periods of drill.

46. Q. Do you know whether or not the design and conception of the apparatus was entirely satisfactory for war purposes?

A. The early warning sets being installed on Oahu are the Army 270 type which are still being used in a great many locations. They were not a perfect instrument but properly operated and installed, they are reasonably satisfactory. In November, 1941, the Air Warning Service out on Oahu knew very little about this new art. They were

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trying to learn how to install them and how to use them at the time of the attack.

47. Q. During those intervening years, had you been personally of the belief that a device of that nature was a very satisfactory security [111] measure in a situation like that on Oahu?

A. Yes, indeed. Search radar extended all the value of aircraft warning service by observers to times of low visibility and to distances far beyond the visible range. It, of course, would have to be coupled with knowledge of the presence of friendly forces or planes or by an efficient electrical identification system which wasn't at that time in existence.

48. Q. Did you then know of any reason why the Army Signal Corps had not been properly equipped with this device as soon as we had the radar on board ship?

A. No, I don't know what delayed the Army in the securing of radar. To my mind, their problem was much simpler than that of the Navy's, as they could use larger equipment, at longer frequencies, and in a part of the radio spectrum more familiar to manufacturers and scientists.

49. Q. Did you ever advise Admiral Kimmel or the senior members of his Staff concerning the state of efficiency of the Army's radar on Oahu?

A. Yes, sir. I informed Admiral Kimmel that the Army radar was in an instruction status only, and not in an operational status. Such was the case on December 7, 1941.

50. Q. In late November, '41, did you see the various dispatches from the Navy Department which contained warnings of the imminence of hostilities with Japan?

A. I believe I saw all of them, sir.

51. Q. When you first saw the Department's war warning dispatch of 27 November '41, what was your reaction to the words "war warning"? What did you think it called for in the way of action, in the way of security measures, or other action?

A. My first reaction was that it was just another war warning, as we had had several dispatches extending over a long period of time, which, although they didn't contain the words "war warning", were, in fact, war warnings. This, plus the inclusion of information in this dispatch giving the probable location of the attack, took the keen edge off the dispatch so far as Honolulu and Pearl Harbor were concerned in connection with an air or amphibious operation. This (indicating Exhibit 8) dispatch, along with several others received about that time, increased my own worry about the danger of local sabotage, particularly because of sabotage reference to Guam and Samoa.

52. Q. Do you recall your reaction, if any, from the use of the word "deployment" and the language around that word?

A. My only recollection is that I questioned how to take a defensive deployment, as this dispatch, coupled with other dispatches which told us to take no offensive action until attacked, confused me as to how I would have placed units of the Fleet, had I been the Commander-in-Chief.

53 Q. Captain, I show you a dispatch which is Exhibit 11 before this examination. Have you seen that dispatch?

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A. I don't recall having seen that dispatch. I may have seen it but I don't remember it at this late date.

54. Q. Captain, it is noted that the dispatch which you looked at a while ago, the November 27 dispatch, which is Exhibit 8, directs that the Army authorities be advised as to the contents of the dispatch. Will you [112] please explain your system for conveying such information to the Army?

A. Our ordinary system in Pearl Harbor was to make a paraphrase of such a dispatch, send an officer with the original and with a paraphrase to the addressee's communication office, and have them ask the Commanding General whether he was satisfied with the paraphrase and then to sign the dispatch, the original, as having received the same. This particular dispatch wasn't handled in that manner. This dispatch was delivered to Admiral Kimmel who kept it in his desk drawer with all copies thereof, and, upon my telling him that I had to deliver it to the Army, he informed me that he would take care of it by sending his intelligence officer to deliver this dispatch to the Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District and to General Short. I tried to get him to let me get their signatures but Admiral Kimmel refused, saying that Commander Layton had taken care of it. I questioned Layton as to whether he delivered it and he stated that he had delivered it to the Fourteenth Naval District and, in the presence of Captain Earle, the Chief of Staff, had delivered a copy to General Short's G-2 officer for delivery to General Short, and later Layton informed me that this officer, this G-2 officer, told him that he had given the dispatch to General Short personally in his bedroom that night. I was quite concerned, personally, about upsetting the system of receipts, but in my own mind, I am satisfied that this dispatch was delivered to both the Commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District and to General Short, although I held no receipt.

55. Q. Do you recall what date that dispatch was received by the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet?

A. It was about the 27th of November. There was no inordinate delay in this dispatch.

56. Q. And the day of delivery to which you referred is the date of receipt-I mean, delivery to General Short and Admiral Bloch?

A. I believe so, but I am not certain.

57. Q. Do you recognize this dispatch, which is Exhibit 6 before this examination?

A. I recall having seen that dispatch.

58. Q. Do you recall anything about its delivery to the Army?

A. No, I do not recall this individual dispatch. I feel certain that it was because in the review of all dispatches prior to this time, we found no non-deliveries, however, I can not recall this delivery of the individual dispatch

59. Q. Do you recall any other dispatches, other than the one of November 27, that delivery was not made in a normal manner?

A. Yes, I believe there were certain dispatches which were handled through Intelligence G-2 channels, against my protest, which was made only because it upset bookkeeping, not because I had any doubt that the information would ultimately reach the addressee.

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60. Q. At the time that you were the Fleet Communications Officer, what was the practice with respect to the retention of such dispatches in the files? I'm getting at the period of time they were retained.

A. We would keep all such dispatches two years, and, in fact when I left, I left directions that all traffic which might be pertinent to Pearl Harbor be retained in the files.

[113]

61. Q. Did these file copies show the signatures of General Short which you have testified about, indicating his receipt of the dispatches?

A. I believe so, except the one of November 27, I know does not contain his receipt.

62. Q. What system did the Army follow in delivering to the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, information that they received and were directed to pass on to the Navy?

A. They sent it down by officer-courier, and obtained a receipt for it, in general. There may have been times in which they delivered traffic directly to Admiral Kimmel and I may not have seen it.

63. Q. Was any delivery normally made to you personally?

A. No, sir; to my Communication Watch Officer.

64. Q. Do you recall the receipt from the Army of a dispatch originated on the 27th of November, 1941, in the War Department, containing a warning similar to that contained in the Navy dispatch of the same day?

A. Frankly, I do not recall. There were many warning dispatches received over a long period of time. If we received it, I feel sure it is in CinCPac files.

65. Q. Captain, you've testified, with respect to your apprehensions, that your communication installations might suffer from sabotage in the event of hostilities or a surprise start to hostilities. Did your communication installations in fact suffer on 7 December 1941 from sabotage?

A. No, sir; I saw no evidence of sabotage, interference, or deception by the enemy, or by local Japanese.

66. Q. You referred to the lack of radio equipment at Kaneohe at the time the station was commissioned. Was this condition remedied prior to the attack on December 7?

A. Yes, sir; the radio equipment was, but the telephone lines were still far from satisfactory. We had made them put in some direct telephone lines and teletype lines, but they were none too good.

67. Q. Were they on the teletype system?

A. There were ail kinds of teletype circuits around there. I believe they had a teletype installed between Kaneohe, Com 14 and Ford Island.

68. Q. Were you cognizant of an important dispatch from either the Chief of Staff, Army, or the Chief of Naval Operations, giving a very definite warning of the imminence of hostilities which was delayed in transmission and not received until sometime late on 7 December?

A. Yes, sir. I believe that there was a joint dispatch sent by War and Navy through the War Department, via RCA communications, to Shafter at Honolulu, which was not received at Shafter until after the attack had commenced and was not received by CinCPac until late on

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the afternoon of the 7th. I believe that dispatch indicated the immediate opening of hostilities.

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 [114] of the examination which he thought should be a matter of record in connection therewith, which had not been fully brought out by the previous questioning.

The witness stated that he had nothing further to say.

The witness was duly warned and withdrew.

The examining officer then, at 3:40 p. m., adjourned until 11 a. m. tomorrow.


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