HEADQUARTERS TWELFTH NAVAL DISTRICT, San Francisco, California.
The examination met at 12:50 p. m.
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, reporter.
The examining officer decided to postpone the reading of the record of proceedings of the sixteenth 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. What is your name, rank, and present station?
A. Joseph John Rochefort, Commander, U. S. Navy, Commanding Officer U. S. S. ABSD2.
2. Q. What were your duties during 1941 calendar year?
A. 1 January 1941 until approximately 15 May 1941, attached to and serving on board the U. S. S. INDIANAPOLIS as Assistant Operations Officer and Force Intelligence Officer for Commander, Scouting Force. During the remainder of the calendar year, I was officer in charge of combat intelligence, attached to Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District.
3. Q. Did you spend some time in Japan learning that language?
A. Yes, sir, three years, from September, 1929, until September, 1932.
4. Q. Did you qualify as Japanese interpreter?
A. Yes; interpreter and translator.
4. Q. In addition to attaining that qualification, did you then, or have you since, made any particular effort towards study of the mental, moral, and psychological characteristics of the Japanese?
A. Yes, sir. Whenever my duties at sea and ashore permitted, which were, due to the fact that I was Fleet Intelligence Officer for two years and Assistant District Intelligence Officer for two years, rather extensive.
6. Q. Other than from the work of your own unit at Pearl Harbor, did you have other sources from which you obtained similar information?
A. Yes, sir, from the Washington Headquarters, and from the unit similar to mine attached to Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet.
7. Q. Was there any other source in particular?
A. Other Government agencies, such as the Army in the Hawaiian Area, the Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in Honolulu, Federal Communications Commission office in Honolulu. However, the information furnished by these agencies was of no value prior to December 7, 1941.
8. Q. Was there a free interchange of information between units similar to yours located in Washington and in the Far East, and your own?
A. Yes, sir, most free, due to the fact that all of our messages were common to all three offices. That is, any message originating in one unit automatically was sent to the other two units.
9. Q. Then did you feel that you had access to all the information which the Navy had available from those two sources?
A. Insofar as general intelligence was concerned, we had access to all information available. Certain types of information were handled either in Washington, alone, or jointly between Washington and the unit in the Far East.
10. Q. Then the three units did, to a certain extent, specialize in certain fields within their own general specialty?
A. Yes, sir.
11. Q. And you were not positive that you received all of the important information in those particular fields?
A. No, sir, we did not.
12. Q. To what officials did you report concerning the intelligence which came into your hands, during the latter half of 1941?
A. To the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, personally, and to Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet, via the Fleet Intelligence Officer.
13. Q. And you, yourself, or none of your subordinates made direct contacts with the Commander-in-Chief or other members of his Staff, other than with his Intelligence Officer?
A. Except in rare instances. I had no contact with the Commander-in-Chief personally. On several occasions, the Commander-in-Chief came to my office for discussion of certain points which had been raised by either Washington, the Far Eastern Unit, or myself.
14. Q. Did your unit engage in study of material gained from the Japanese Foreign Service?
A. No, sir.
15. Q. Did you receive, during November and early December, anything which the other two units obtained from that source?
A. To the best of my knowledge, no, sir.
16. Q. Did you receive from the Intelligence Officer, Fourteenth Naval District, directly or otherwise, a copy of some communications in which the Japanese Consulate General at Honolulu was concerned, at any time around 1 December '41?
A. Yes, sir.
17. Q. Did those communications amount to much in the way of volume?
A, No, sir, I would say, perhaps, ten to fifteen messages.
18. Q. Did they come direct to you from the District Intelligence Officer?
A. Yes, sir.
19. Q. Did you have any request or any instructions in connection with them?
A. Yes, sir. He stated he was vitally interested in any information they might contain.
20. Q. Did you succeed in extracting any information from them?
A. Yes, sir.
21. Q. When?
A. In all except two or three of the messages, within twelve hours; the remaining two or three messages on the evening of 10 December.
22. Q. Did the lot which you handled easily contain any important information?
A. No, sir.
23. Q. Did the other lot?
A. Yes, sir.
24. Q. Why were you unable to obtain that information at an earlier date?
A. Because of the inherent difficulties in the task which were such that we were unable to get earlier results.
25. Did you employ your ablest assistants in that task, and approximately how much time did they devote to it?
A. Yes, sir. It was made a matter of paramount importance and approximately twelve to sixteen hours daily were devoted to that work alone.
26. Q. Was it a part of your duties, or those of your unit, to monitor radio traffic in the so-called "amateur" status with the object of disclosing if any Japanese spies were communicating direct with Japan?
A. No, sir.
27. Q. Did you know whether any of that work was being done on Oahu?
A. In conversation with F. C. C. personally, I received the impression that it was their function and that they were endeavoring to cover such channels to the best of their ability.
28. Q. Did you know whether or not it was a sincere and effective effort on their part?
A. Insofar as the local personnel on Oahu were concerned, I believe it was.
29. Q. Did you ever hear of their apprehending any improper communications of that nature?
A. No, sir.
30. Q. Over what channels did the Consular General, Hawaii, communicate with his superiors in Japan?
A. Primarily by cable, occasionally by radio.
31. Q. Was there ever any telephone communication in which he as engaged (I mean trans-Pacific telephone)?
A. None of which I had been informed.
32. Q. Now, Commander, I will ask you to state, chronologically, as nearly as possible, the results which your unit obtained in keeping track of the movement of units of the Japanese Fleet, beginning on or about 1 October 1941.
A. On 1 October, the general mission of the unit at Pearl was to endeavor to obtain information from the specific types of traffic
as assigned by Washington. Secondly, to obtain information, by a study of radio traffic originated by the Japanese stations. And thirdly, to obtain information by radio direction finder bearings. As of 1 October, the first mission mentioned was being only partially carried out due to inability on the part of the personnel concerned. The second and third missions were, with a reasonable degree of accuracy, being carried out. Late in October and during the month of November, some minor successes were obtained in the field covered by the first mission. However, the information thus obtained was not in any sense vital. Beginning in early November, it became apparent that certain moves were afoot, and after about three weeks constant study an estimate was drawn up which was submitted to the Commandant, who released a dispatch to Washington, Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet, and Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet To the best of my knowledge, this dispatch was sent out on 26 November. Between that date and the 7th of December, very little information was obtained by means of radio intelligence, due to the lack of traffic. During the latter part of November and the first week in December, information previously unavailable, due to legal restrictions, was made available from the files of the communication companies in Honolulu. This traffic contained the incoming and outgoing files of the personnel attached to the Consulate General in Honolulu.
33. Q. On broad lines, what was the substance of that estimate which you made about 26 November?
A. The estimate submitted on 26 November consisted, in the main, of the opinion that the Japanese were concentrating to the south of Japan, one force proceeding toward Indochina; the direction of advance of the other force was not known. An additional force of some strength and containing at least one carrier division was placed definitely in the Marshalls area.
34. Q. How many carriers did the Japs organize in one division?
A. Two, sir.
3a. Q. At about the time of this aforesaid estimate, what were you getting along similar lines from the other two units?
A. Nothing definite except that the Far East Unit had stated, on many occasions, that an offensive move was apparent. To the best of my knowledge, no direction or composition of forces was given prior to the dispatch of the estimate from Pearl.
36. Q. Narrowing this testimony down to Japanese carriers-do I understand you to say that you thought you had located two in the Marshall Islands or proceeding in that direction?
A. In our opinion, at that time, at least two Japanese carriers were in the Marshalls area.
37. Q. Did you estimate other Japanese carriers to be to the southward of, say, Formosa?
A. I do not recall whether the task forces which we included in our estimate contained carriers south of Formosa, or not.
38. Q. On this subject of location of carriers, of which it is well understood the Japanese possessed ten, was the unit in the Far East in agreement with your estimate?
A. No, sir.
39. Q. In what respect?
A. The estimate mentioned previously was not replied to by Washington. The following day, the Far Eastern Unit, commented on the dispatch and I believe the Far Eastern Unit was in general agreement except for the direction of movement and particularly the placing of at least one carrier division in the Marshalls.
40. Q. Did the Far Eastern Unit suggest that more was known about the location of Japanese carriers than was shown in your estimate?
A. I do not recall.
41. Q. Do you know if the aforesaid estimate and the dispatch from Com 14, which was based thereon, were communicated to the Commander-in-Chief?
A. Yes, sir, the following morning the Commander-in-Chief, accompanied by Com 14, came to my offices and discussed the matter at great length, at least an hour and a half, I would say.
42. Q. Do you recall if that disagreement which came to you from the other unit in the East was likewise communicated to the Commander-in-Chief?
A. I am almost positive that it was by reason of the fact that all messages of that type were given to the Commander-in-Chief.
43. Q. Were you, at that time, aware of the very tense situation that existed between us and the Japanese, particularly insofar as diplomatic negotiations were concerned?
A. Yes, sir, I believe I was.
44. Q. You did not, however, obtain anything in the nature of a similar estimate from Washington, is that correct?
A. No, sir, we did not. I might amend that slightly by stating that several days after the dispatch of our estimate and the dispatch of the Far Eastern Unit's estimate a warning dispatch was received from Washington. That was on the 27th. They, obviously, tied together but there was no direct answer.
45. Q. Did it occur to you, at the time, in view of the importance of this subject, that you had a right to expect something from Washington?
A. No, sir. We had submitted our estimate to our superior officers in Washington. Whether or not they replied, I considered a matter within their purview.
46. Q. Did you look upon Japanese battleships and carriers as the most important units?
A. Yes, sir.
47. Q. Did you recall any uneasiness of mind because you did not have a greater number of those ships located?
A. There was great unease in all of our minds because of the lack of traffic. The inability to locate more battleships and carriers was not considered, in itself, as a bad sign by reason of the fact that up until that time we had generally been unsuccessful in locating the majority of the larger ships.
48. Q. What particular types of Japanese man-o-war did you feel you were well in touch with and what importance did you put upon their movements?
A. We maintained close touch with all of the vessels engaged in building up bases in the Mandates and, generally, with seaplane tenders, and occasional cruiser divisions.
49. Q. Did your unit assume that because they did not hear the large Japanese ships talking that they were all in port?
A. No, sir.
50. Q. From, say, the 27th of November onward, do I understand you to say that Japanese naval radio traffic was unusually light?
A. Yes, sir.
51. Q. Did you recall any previous occasion when it was as sparse as during that period?
A. Yes, sir. During the advance and occupation of Hainan.
52. Q. Did it occur to the minds in your unit that this silence might be presaging another offensive movement?
A. Yes, sir, we considered that it did definitely presage another offensive movement.
53. Q. Were you emphatic in calling the attention of your seniors to the importance of this lack of traffic?
A. Yes, sir.
54. Q. To whom did you represent that?
A. To the Commandant and to my opposite number on the Commander-in-Chief's Staff, namely, the Fleet Intelligence Officer. However, the objectives, insofar as my unit was concerned, did not include areas to the eastward of the Mandate islands.
55. Q. Reverting to the subject of your general study of Japanese characteristics, do you recall any conversation in which you engaged concerning the characteristics of the Japanese naval leaders of that period, particularly of Admiral Yamamoto?
A. I do not recall any specific conversations, but I had, over a two-year period, during which I served on the same Staff as the then Captain McMorris, many conversations with him and other senior officers of my opinion as to the characteristics of the various Japanese naval high command.
56. Q. Do you recall what your general size-up of Yamamoto was at that time?
A. Prior to December 7, 1941, I considered Admiral Yamamoto as not being particularly brilliant, but rather being of a type of General Araki. In other words, a strong character who might take violent action even without the knowledge or consent of his superiors in Tokyo.
57. Q. You thought that he belonged to the so-called younger officer clique?
A. Yes, sir.
58. Q. Did you have in mind his previous work in building up the air force of the Japanese Navy?
A. Not particularly, sir. In reading the various statements attributed to him, and during the one or two occasions that I met him, my estimate was that he was one of the-what we then called "fire-brands", and might conceivably disobey any order from Tokyo under certain circumstances.
59. Q. Did you look upon him as dangerous as well as venturesome?
A. Yes, sir.
60. Q. Insofar as you know, were those opinions of yours and the others with whom you discussed it ever communicated to Admirals Kimmel or Bloch?
A. I could not say definitely whether they had, or not, except in one or two cases where I had prepared, while attached to the Staff of the Commander, Scouting Force, estimates in connection with the various Rainbow Plans.
61. Q. Do you recall if the Fleet Intelligence Officer, whom I understand likewise is a Japanese language interpreter, agreed with you in your opinions?
A. I have reason to believe that he did, sir.
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 matter of record in connection therewith, which had not been fully brought out by the previous questioning.
The witness made the following statement: I would like to mention, briefly, the equipment which was available prior to December 7. The Pearl Harbor unit was also charged with operating, under the general supervision of the Navy Department, the mid-Pacific radio direction finder net. This was not as efficient or as productive of results as it might have been, due to the type of equipment, lack of trained operators, and long distances involved which rendered an efficient radio direction finder net operation rather difficult. In the summer of 1941, the Commandant personally ordered the erection of additional radio direction finder sets at Midway and Palmyra, after I had discussed the matter unsuccessfully with the Navy Department. It is my opinion that the Commandant ordered the erection of these stations after consultation with the Commander-in-Chief. In connection with the exchange of information between the three combat intelligence units, all traffic, other than purely technical traffic, was also sent to the Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet. Prior to December 7, the Army, to the best of my knowledge, was not engaged in any work comparable to that of the Combat Intelligence Naval Unit in the Hawaiian Area.
Examination by the examining officer (continued):
62. Q. Was the Army in Hawaii equipped with material and personnel to do that kind of work?
A. No, sir.
63. Q. As regards the Pacific radio direction finder net, did you ever propose that still further stations be erected?
A. Yes, sir. In general, our proposal was that additional stations be set up in the various Pacific naval air bases then being established namely, Wake, Johnston, Palmyra, and Midway, as soon as they could be accommodated. No satisfactory answer having been received, the Commandant directed the establishment of Midway and Palmyra, and plans had been made and material had been allocated from the pool at Pearl Harbor for Wake.
64. Q. Was the equipment of your RDF stations up to date?
A. No, sir, it was perhaps the best available at that time but the office of Naval Communications was then developing and had promised us, to my knowledge, since June of 1941, modern equipment, but it had not been completed or satisfactorily tested prior to December.
The witness was duly warned and withdrew.
The examination then, at 2:15 p. m., was adjourned to await the call of the examining officer.