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PROCEEDINGS OF THE HART INQUIRY
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 1944
THIRTY-THIRD DAY
                              HEADQUARTERS, COMMANDER EASTERN SEA FRONTIER. 

The examination met at 4:30 p. m.

Present: Admiral Thomas C. Hart, U. S. Navy, Retired, examining officer.

The examining officer introduced Rose Mullen, civilian, as reporter, who was duly sworn.

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

So 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. Will you give your name rank and present station?

A. Herbert F. Leary, Vice Admiral, U. S. Navy, Commanding Eastern Sea Frontier, stationed at 90 Church Street, New York.

2. Q. What were your duties during the calendar year 1941?

A. In January, 1941, I was detached from duty as Director of Fleet Training in Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, D. C., and ordered to command the Cruisers, Battle Force, relieving Rear Admiral H. E. Kimmel. I relieved Admiral Kimmel on 1 February 1941 and remained in command of Cruisers, Battle Force, until 1 February 1942 when I left for Australia to become Commander of the Anzac Force in the Southwest Pacific.

3. Q. Admiral, during the Autumn of 1941 what officers were your immediate superiors both in administrative activities and in operational activities?

A. As a Type Commander of the Light Cruisers of the Battle Force, my immediate superior was Vice Admiral Pye, the Commander of the Battle Force, who in turn was immediately under Admiral Kimmel, the Commander-in-Chief. These officers were both my administrative and operational commanders.

4. Q. Then during your periods at sea were you always in Admiral Pye's Task Force?

A. Not always. The Task Forces for the various operating periods were varied and I served under various Task Force Commanders.

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But I should say that the majority of the time I was under Admiral Pye.

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5. Q. Do you recall the approximate inclusive dates of your last stay in Pearl Harbor prior to 7 December 1941?

A. My Task Force entered Pearl Harbor on November 28, 1941 and did not leave again until after the attack.

6. Q. Prior to that entry on 28 November, about how many days were you at sea?

A. One week. We left Pearl Harbor on November 21 for Fleet maneuvers.

7. Q. Who was your Task Force Commander during that week?

A. Admiral Pye.

8. Q. Admiral, a general question. I understand that you were in what might be called the third echelon of the command in the Pacific Fleet. As such, did you have opportunities to observe the general relations between the Commander-in-Chief and the Commanders of the echelon above you as well as of your own echelon?

A. Yes. Whenever the ships were in port I was invited to attend the daily conferences which the Commander-in-Chief held with his immediate subordinates and, in my opinion, there was complete and free interchange of information and opinions among the higher naval command. I did not attend these conferences as a regular member but, when other duties permitted, my natural interest caused me to be present.

9. Q. What was your opinion as to the correctness and adequacy of the information distributed incidental to those relationships between the highest officers of the Fleet?

A. In my opinion, based on my intermittent observation, I should say it was as full and free as could be possible. At these meetings, Admiral Kimmel frequently read extracts from personal letters received from the Chief of Naval Operations and other officers, commented on them, and stated what action he was taking in regard to various matters and included a daily intelligence presentation by his Fleet Intelligence Officer, in which were presented all the facts as he saw them.

10. Q. In addition to the information which you gained at the Commander-in-Chief's conferences when you attended them, was important information, particularly as regards the situation vis-a-vis Japan, imparted to you by your immediate superior?

A. No, except in a general way. I had frequent, almost daily, contact with Admiral Pye and we naturally discussed the situation as it appeared to us.

11. Q. Do you recall having seen or heard discussed a dispatch from the Navy Department about 16 October, in which was set forth the seriousness of the situation then current and which contained a directive concerning precautions to be taken by the Fleet? (Indicating Exhibit 6)

A. No.

12. Q. Upon your return to port 28 November 1941, did you see or were you told of certain dispatches from the Department received during the three or four days preceding, which contained warnings and at least one directive?

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A. No. I do not remember any specific directives which were called to my attention on arrival in port.

13. Q. Did you, at any time between 28 November and the date of the surprise attack, become aware that the Navy Department had sent the Commander-in-Chief a dispatch which amounted to a war warning?

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A. No. To the best of my recollection, the conditions existing in port at this time were roughly as they had been on the preceding period in port.

14. Q. Do you recall if you were called upon to increase in any way the security precautions which had before then been in effect while the ships were in Pearl Harbor?

A. No. To the best of my recollection, the security conditions existing on my ships were the same as on the previous stay in port.

15. Q. Admiral, you mentioned that your duty prior to beginning the cruise in 1941 had to do with Fleet Training. Will you briefly describe your responsibilities and your authority while engaged on that duty?

A. As an Assistant to the Chief of Operations in charge of Fleet Training, it was my duty to carefully scrutinize and analyze the reports received from the Fleet as to the proficiency of the ships in gunnery, engineering, communications and damage control; to publish results of these studies and to promulgate to the Fleet general directives which would increase efficiency in the above branches.

16. Q. Then, were you, in effect, the Navy Department's Director of Training of all forces at sea?

A. In a general way, yes. The schedules governing the time allotted to training were made out by the Fleet Commanders and the Department (Office of Fleet Training) merely checked these as to the general adequacy of time allotted and the covering of all different forms of training required.

17. Q. During the Autumn of 1941, while our relations with Japan were becoming steadily worse, did you, as an officer who had been intimately concerned with training, ever give consideration to the balance which the Fleet was maintaining between the necessities for training and those for security measures?

A. Yes. This was a subject of constant concern and frequent discussion between the officers in high command in the Pacific Fleet. Due to the large numbers of new men being trained and the constant demands made upon the Fleet to furnish experienced officers for other duty outside of the Fleet, the question of training was always a paramount one. There were frequent discussions on this in regard to the cycle of operations, whether the Fleet should be sent to sea as a unit; divided into two parts with one half in port; or divided into three groups for operations and training. There were advocates for all three schemes and the question of security was always considered, but the prevalent opinion in the Fleet among the higher command, as I sensed it, was that the situation permitted of emphasizing training at the expense of security at this time. It was not possible to carry out the required training and maintain entirely satisfactory security measures.

18. Q. Admiral, do you recall that you gave any considerable thought, during the few weeks prior to 7 December 1941, to the possibilities, or even probabilities, of a surprise attack by the Japanese?

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A. In a general way, yes, but I think that we all felt that the contingency was remote and that our Intelligence Service would give us adequate warning if an attack were imminent, or that a declaration of hostilities were apt to occur. We all realized that Washington was in telephonic communication with our Commander-in-Chief.

19. Q. Do you recall having given thought or, shall we say, even speculation as to the form in which a Japanese surprise attack might be made?

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A. Yes. We had discussed this matter and I think everyone more or less realized that a surprise attack would be an air attack.

20. Q. Was that your own estimation-that it would be made by air rather than by some other weapon?

A. Yes.

21. Q. Do you recall having been in any discussion in which you put forward that opinion?

A. I do not remember that we had any specific discussion exactly along those lines. The Fleet was, as I have previously stated, mainly engaged in training, perfecting materiel devices-in other words, general preparation-and, as I have stated, the feeling strongly existed that the Fleet would have adequate warning of any chance of an air attack; in other words, of a beginning of hostilities.

22. Q. Were you during that period prior to December 1941 in any way in touch with the Army's potential ability to repel a surprise attack upon Pearl Harbor?

A. No, and I was quite surprised to learn after the attack that the Army anti-aircraft guns were not in position. I had no information as to the disposition of the Army Air Force available in the Hawaiian Islands. I had a general impression that there was very little air support for the Fleet available and also that the Navy Air was inadequate for a complete coverage of the waters around Pearl Harbor.

23. Q. Admiral, as a Type Commander of all the light cruisers of the Fleet, do you recall any particular dissatisfaction which was in your mind concerning the Department's action in keeping your ships up to date, in supplying them with ammunition, other war materials and with proper personnel?

A. Yes. There was frequent and emphatic disagreement with the Department's actions and a great deal of correspondence on this subject. The ships were being constantly depleted of trained personnel and requests made for equipment were being inadequately supplied and frequently with the information that we would be supplied after the demands for vessels in the Atlantic had been met. The cruisers of the Battle Force normally consisted of two divisions of light cruisers, but one division was detached from the Fleet and sent to the Atlantic prior to Pearl Harbor. This, along with other indications, left me with the impression that the situation was not considered critical in the Pacific Fleet at this time.

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.

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The witness made the following statement:

Yes, I would like to submit the following additional comments. Admiral Kimmel was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet on 1 February 1941 and met with general approval of the Fleet officers and came, I understood, as the result of personal observations by Secretary of the Navy Knox during a [367] visit which he made to the Fleet and his subsequent opinion that Admiral Kimmel was more alive, on his toes and energetic in preparing his ships for action than any other Commanders in the Fleet. Although not belonging to the higher echelons of command in the Fleet at this time, I know that Admiral Kimmel immediately called conferences of responsible officers to provide additional security for the Fleet while at sea and in Pearl Harbor; that he initiated steps to obtain closer cooperation with the Army and particularly with the Army Air Force in Hawaii. The results of his efforts were a better organization and division of duties as between the two services. He also realized the impracticability of handling the Fleet from a vessel at sea and was our first Commander-in-Chief to move his organization and staff to buildings in the Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor and set up a command organization which still exists, although greatly amplified since his time. It was evident to all Flag officers in the Fleet that he immediately made vigorous and determined efforts to obtain personnel, planes, guns, ammunition, bombs and additional ships which were all badly needed at this time. He also initiated a training program for aircraft and all types of ships to more closely fit them for the war effort and these programs were placed in effect and had the effect of increasing the training and effectiveness of the Fleet for action. He issued an order requiring our Naval Air Squadrons to land and be serviced on each Army airfield in the Hawaiian area and required an extension of the same services to Army aircraft landing on Navy fields. This had never been done previously. As far as my knowledge goes, the warnings received immediately prior to December 7, 1941 were of the same character and urgency as previous warnings and their effect was minimized by reason of repeated false alarms and by the inference derived from Departmental action that it was more important to equip and supply Naval units in the Atlantic at this time. I believe that Admiral Kimmel made unusual efforts in his desire to keep his principal subordinates fully informed of the situation as it developed and that he constantly sought advice and counsel from his principal subordinates; that he conferred frequently with General Short and that he was throughout his period of command on the best of terms with General Short and that he deliberately cultivated such a relationship, realizing its importance. It was my opinion, on relieving Admiral Kimmel, that his command was the best trained unit in the Fleet and that he had shown more energy and initiative in developing organization and practices to increase war-time efficiency of his ships than any other Type Commander then in the Fleet. I believe that the Fleet at war now shows the effect of training, organization and practices instituted during his term as Commander-in-Chief. This is particularly true as regards the development of practices in regard to damage control, and was splendidly evidenced in the case of the U. S. S. BOISE in her action with the Japanese fleet. I left Pearl Harbor for Australia on 1 February 1942. Up to the time of my

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departure I believe that in general the security, training and organization orders issued by Admiral Kimmel were in general permitted to stand or were reissued without major change by his successor. I believe that the factors which determined the state of readiness in effect at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 were the result of the information which had been received by the high command at that time and that the general opinion was that the main threat to be feared was one of sabotage and that no direct attack upon the Fleet was considered to be imminent. I believe that undoubtedly had the high command been made aware of any imminence of attack from without that additional steps would have been taken to secure a more advanced state of readiness on December 7.

The witness was duly warned and withdrew.

The examination then, at 6 p. m., was adjourned to await the call of the examining officer.


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