NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, D. C.
The examination met at 9:45 a. 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 thirty-third 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. Captain J. B. Earle, U. S. Navy, attached to the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as Director of Naval Instruction.
2. Q. What duties did you perform during the calendar year 1941?
A. I was Commander, Destroyer Squadron Five, of the United States Fleet until the 9th of June, '41, when I reported for duty as Chief of Staff, Fourteenth Naval District.
3. Q. Captain, I show you a document which is Exhibit 5 before this examination. Do you identify it as one which you were familiar with in 1941?
A. Yes, I believe that that is the document that I saw after I reported.
4. Q. Referring to paragraph 5 of that document, Exhibit 5, it is noted that the Chief of Staff, Fourteenth Naval District, is a member of the Joint Planning Committee established by the document. While you were Chief of Staff, Fourteenth Naval District, did you serve on that Committee?
A. To the best of my knowledge, I did not serve formally on the Committee, but the Chiefs of Staffs acted informally as members of the Planning Committee with subcommittees appointed doing the majority of the detail work.
5. Q. Were you familiar with the work covered by these subcommittees at that time?
A. I do not recall at this time any particular problem that was handled by a subcommittee, but the War Plans Officer of the Fourteenth Naval District was continually working with the corresponding officer, personally, in the Hawaiian Department to bring up to date and to keep up to date the various Joint War Plans in the Library.
6. Q. Were you, at the time, kept advised of the various plans which were being considered by the War Plans Officer and the Army?
A. Yes I think I can say I was.
7. Q. Were you, at the time, familiar with the relationship, cordiality, and so forth, between the Navy planners and the Army planners?
A. My recollection is that the preliminary plans were always easy to prepare, but that it took considerable time after they were prepared, more or less to our satisfaction, to get them finally approved by the Army. This more or less peacetime attitude underwent gradual changes as the impression was received that war was possible. What I'm trying to say is that when I first went there, though everything was proceeding at considerably accelerated peacetime manner, that as the various warnings were received that trouble was brewing, it became easier to get joint agreements and the joint action came more rapidly.
8. Q. Captain, in the period preceding the attack, was this plan, Exhibit 5, in full effect?
A. No, this was a plan prepared for execution at such time as it was found necessary. Some provisions were in effect, such as the planning parts, but the general overall plan was not in effect.
9. Q. Were you, prior to the attack, familiar with the aircraft warning net which was being established by the Army?
A. No, I was not. I knew that the Army was planning for such a net, but I had no information of the details.
10. Q. Captain, I show you a document, which is Enclosure "B" to Exhibit 22 before this examination, and which is annex No. VII to the JCD Plan, Exhibit 5. Were you, in the period preceding the attack, familiar with this document?
A. Yes, I recall this document.
11. Q. You will note that paragraph 11 of this document deals with the aircraft warning service to be established by the Army. This paragraph calls for the Army to expedite the installation of the warning service and for the Navy to endeavor to give warning of hostile attacks until such time as the Army system was in operation. Do you recall at any time prior to the attack that this matter was discussed or considered by the Planning Officers of the Army and Navy, either individually or collectively?
A. No, I do not recall.
12. Q. Do you recall any endeavor on the part of the Navy, the Fourteenth Naval District, to carry out its commitment to render temporary service?
A. No, I don't recall that anything was done primarily because the District had nothing to do it with except possible by the use of Fleet radar on the ships of the Fleet and, so far as I know, no steps were taken to provide for their use.
13. Q. In paragraph 6 of this document, which also deals with the aircraft warning service, reference is made to the use of Navy liaison
officer in connection with the dissemination of information. Will you please state anything within your knowledge with relation to the detail and training of such officers of the Fourteenth Naval District?
A. I have a vague recollection of some talk with a Fleet radar officer on the question of assignment of District personnel to the Army warning net, but, at that time, the District had no aviation personnel and my recollection is that he was told that as soon as we could get somebody who was qualified, we would be glad to turn him over to the Army.
14. Q. Do you recall any consideration that was given, prior to the attack, to plans for the utilization by the Navy of information obtained by the Army warning net?
A. Yes, I do. There was a hook-up between the Army Warning Service and the District Operation Office, so that air raid training could be conducted. In other words, the Army would prearrange when we would have a drill, an air drill, and the information would come down from the warning system, but whether we ever received anything else but the training material, I can not recall.
15. Q. Do you recollect any plans that were made prior to the attack for establishing communications between the Army warning net and the Naval District?
A. Oh, yes, my recollection is that we had telephone communication, and I'm not sure, but possibly teletype.
16. Q. Prior to the attack, were personnel available to man this communication system?
A. Yes, we had officers with necessary enlisted personnel on watch in the Operations Office and Communication Office of the District to handle such communications.
17. Q. Do you recollect any request during November 1941 from the officers designated to establish this warning net for assistance from Commandant in obtaining the placing of the net on a twenty-four hour operational basis?
A. My recollection is that we were all concerned about the situation, but whether any definite steps were taken to ask the Army to put it on a twenty-four hour basis, I can't say.
18. Q. Captain, the plan, JCD, or Exhibit 5, provides that the Army furnish an in-shore air patrol. Was such a patrol maintained in the period just prior to 7 December 1941?
A. I doubt it. We had, as I recall, drills, which included a problem of ships approaching Hawaii, and during these drills there was a coordinated operation of the Army and Navy, but, to the best of my recollection, this was only done during drill. I do seem to recall that there was a certain amount of in-shore patrol aircraft work done for some short time prior to December 7, but, to the best of my recollection, it was done by the Navy.
19. Q. Were you, at that time, familiar with the aircraft available to the Army to conduct such patrol?
20. Q. Captain, referring again to this document, Enclosure "B" to Exhibit 22, in paragraph 8, and also Enclosure "A" to that Enclosure, reference is made to a plan for Aircraft Departure, Approach, and Recognition Procedure. Will you please state anything you know with respect to such plan; whether one was established, or not, prior to December 7.
A. It is very hard to recall, but I don't think so. There were detailed procedures in effect, either shortly after or possibly shortly before, but I doubt whether they were in effect before December 7.
21. Q. Do you recollect any consideration of such a plan that occurred just prior to December 7; discussions, conferences, etc.?
A. I do not recall any.
22. Q. Paragraph 9 of Enclosure "B" of Exhibit 22, provides for further investigation and study as to the practicability of the use of barrage balloons in the defense of Pearl Harbor. Do you recollect any such further investigation and study being made prior to December 7?
A. I recall that a barrage balloon plan was made for Pearl Harbor and the vicinity, including a chart showing the locations, and it was approved by the Army and Navy, but whether the balloons got out there before December 7, I don't recall.
23. Q. This document, Captain, is Exhibit 4 before this examination. Where you familiar with that in the period leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor?
24. Q. It is noted that that letter provides that the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, as Naval Base Defense Officer, should make arrangements with the Army for the placing of Army aircraft guns for the defense of Pearl Harbor against air attack. Will you please state any knowledge which you have with respect to the making of such arrangements?
A. As I recall, preliminary studies were made and plans were prepared, but I do not recall that it got much further than the planning phase, except for holding communication drills in connection with air raid drills.
25. Q. Do you recall any occasion prior to the attack, on which the guns were actually placed in the selected locations for drill or training purposes?
A. I seem to recall that they were brought in for drill purposes, but I can not be definite on this point.
26. Q. This document, Exhibit 4, also provides for the Naval Base Defense Officer to have charge of coordinating Fleet anti-aircraft fire with the base defense. It sets out specific methods by which this was to be done. Will you please state anything within your knowledge with respect to what was done in compliance with this directive?
A. The anchorage area was divided up into sectors and the Fleet was required to keep the Naval Base Defense Commander informed of who was the Sector Commander in each sector. Instructions were issued regarding the use of signals for "open fire" and "cease firing"; communication plan was worked out and drills were held. In addition, it is my recollection that the various conditions specified were used for some time prior to December 7.
27. Q. Was any plan adopted for coordinating Fleet anti-aircraft fire with the anti-aircraft fire of the Army in the Pearl Harbor area?
A. I can recall no plan.
28. Q. Do you recall any consideration being given to such a plan of coordinating anti-aircraft batteries of the two Services?
A. I am sure the consideration was given and probably informal conferences, held, because we all realized it to be a very serious prob-
lem; but so far as recalling whether any definite action or any definite results were obtained, I can not say.
29. Q. Were you, in late November, 1941, familiar with the location and the status of Army anti-aircraft batteries intended for the defense of Pearl Harbor?
A. I knew in general where the fixed guns were located, but I had no knowledge of any mobile anti-aircraft batteries.
30. Q. Captain, were you familiar with the series of war warning dispatches which you received during October and November 1941?
A. I was familiar with several that came in. Whether I saw all of them, I don't know.
31. Q. Do you recall any discussions with the Army, based on these dispatches, which contemplated the placing of the Army antiaircraft defenses in a higher degree of readiness to repeal an attack on Pearl Harbor?
A. I do not.
32. Q. Was any request made by the Naval Base Defense Officer, so far as you know, prior to the attack, for the Army to place its mobile batteries or otherwise prepare for repelling an air attack?
A. I have no knowledge of any such action, if any was taken. We were not, at that time, checking up on the Army and trying to find out what steps they were taking. It was assumed that they were in full knowledge of the situation and that they were taking all practicable steps.
33. Q. At the time, were you familiar with the fact that during the week preceding the attack the Army was only alerted against sabotage?
A. Yes. There has been, however, so much said about that since the war that I'm a little doubtful. However, I do recall that there was some conversation about the valuation and urgency of the messages which the Army and Navy were getting. By that, I mean that to some, it appeared that there was considerable difference of opinion higher up as to just what the emergency was. My recollection is that the Army instructions were so worded as to indicate that although war might be possible, yet no steps were to be taken to unduly alarm the inhabitants of Hawaii.
34. Q. Captain, I show you a dispatch dated 27 November 1941, which is Exhibit 8 before this examination. Were you familiar with this dispatch at the time it was received at Pearl Harbor or shortly afterward?
A. I think I can recall having seen that dispatch. I do not recall when I saw it.
35. Q. Referring again, Captain, to this document, which is Enclosure "B" to Exhibit 22, it provides for the use of Marine defense battalion AA batteries in the defense of Pearl Harbor. Will you please state anything you know of any plans that were made for such use of Marine defense battalion batteries.
A. My recollection is that plans were made, but I, again, am not certain whether they were really put in operating condition before December 7 or shortly after.
36. Q. The same document, Enclosure "B" to Exhibit 22, provides for establishing a Harbor Control Post. You will find that in paragraph 14 and also in Enclosure "B" to the Enclosure. Will you please
state what was done about establishing such a post prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor and its status just prior to the attack?
A. We had, what was called at that time, a Harbor Control Post in the Operations Office of the Fourteenth Naval District. This Post consisted of an officer on watch, with enlisted personnel, to man a special telephone board and teletype system. I believe that there was a coast artilleryman on watch there, but I'm not certain on that point. Later, this Joint Operations Officer, Harbor Control Post, was expanded and covered all the details envisaged in Enclosure "B" to Annex VII, JCD.
37. Q. Will you please stated the purpose of this Control Post?
A. This Control Post, as then established, was, to the best of my recollection, for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of Fleet Confidential Letter No. 2CL-41 (Revised), which assigned certain duties to the Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, as the Naval Base Defense Officer.
38. Q. Was the officer who manned this Post authorized to act as the representative of the Naval Base Defense Officer in performing his duties?
A. It is my recollection that at the time he could give orders direct in emergency, but that if no emergency existed, he would refer to the Commandant or Chief of Staff before he issued direct orders.
39. Q. What officers stood watch at the Harbor Control Post?
A. Officers were detailed from the various Departments of the Fourteenth Naval District and the Naval Yard.
40. Q. What qualifications were required of officers before they were designated for this watch?
A. Some were reserve officers, but effort was made to place officers on this watch who would be considered as reliable. In many instances, it is possible that they did not have long experience in the Navy.
41. Q. What instructions were issued to these watch officers to guide them in performing their duties?
A. I don't recall the detailed instructions that were issued. They were given a routine to follow. They were kept informed of the number of ships in the harbor and of all movements of ships, prospective as well as past movements; they were kept informed of the situation as it existed except when it was built on secret information which could not be given to them.
42. Q. What assistants were provided the watch officer at the Harbor Control Post prior to the attack, insofar as you recollect?
A. I recall he had only one man on the telephone board and possibly a messenger, I'm not sure.
43. Q. Captain, will you please outline the established procedure for the operation of the harbor gate in Pearl Harbor and Honolulu Harbor in effect prior to the attack on December 7.
A. At Pearl Harbor, as I recall, the gate was kept closed at night, except when naval vessels were going to have to use that channel at night. In that case, the gate was left open for those ships to use. Whether the gate was opened and closed after each ship, I do not recall, but my belief is that it was. In daytime, the net was left open probably for considerable length of time, as there were large numbers of ships passing in and out, but I'm not certain whether it was closed at that time after each ship in the daytime. As I recall, the handling
of the gate at Pearl Harbor, before December 7, was in the hands of the Captain of the Yard, and I'm not certain as to any details. At Honolulu, the senior Coast Guard Officer was in charge, and, so far as I know, opened and closed the net for each ship, day and night.
44. Q. In your capacity as Chief of Staff, Commandant, Fourteenth Naval District, would not the operation of anything as important as the gate at Pearl Harbor be directly under your purview?
A. I can't see why the Chief of Staff of the Naval District should have been required to handle such a detail as opening and closing the gate into Pearl Harbor. However, after December 7, 1941, the Harbor Control Post assisted the Captain of the Yard in operating the gate until the Navy Yard was able, later, to take complete control again.
45. Q. Captain, can you state how the Japanese submarine got past the net into Pearl Harbor on the early morning of December 7, 1941, prior to the attack?
A. It is my recollection that the gate had been opened to let some vessels out, either minesweepers or some other type, and that it had been left open to let the ANTARES in, which was scheduled to come in early that morning.
46. Q. How far below the surface was the lowest element of the gate?
A. I'm sorry, I do not know.
47. Q. Did it occur to you, after you became aware that a Jap submarine had been in the harbor, that it may have entered by passing under the lowest element of the gate?
A. That point came up shortly after December 7 and it was said at that time that there was sufficient water in the center of the channel, under the net, to permit a small submarine to enter even though the gate were closed. However, either at that time or shortly after, the impression was given that one of these small submarines could not be expected to go under the net because of its buoyancy. In other words, the impression was given that they had to stay fairly near the surface in order to keep going.
48. Q. Captain Earle, do you know whether more than one Jap submarine got into the harbor on the morning of December 7, and, if so, whether the one that got in, or more than one, was destroyed?
A. So far as I know, only one got in and that was the one that was rammed and sunk in the harbor. There were, however, many reports of Japanese submarines in the harbor. Every can and bit of floating refuse was picked up as a sub.
49. Q. Captain, the Plan JCD, which is Exhibit 5, in paragraph 17 (i) and 18 (l) provides for establishing a joint system of land communications by the Army and Navy for use in the defense of Pearl Harbor. Will you please state what you know of the status of this communication system prior to the attack.
A. All naval stations were connected either by telephone or radio. There were teletypes which also went to all those on Oahu. The Army stations were connected by telephone. They eventually became connected by teletypes. But whether that was done before December 7 or after, I am not certain.
50. Q. Do you recall whether or not there was a joint communication plan in effect prior to the attack?
A. I think that there probably was, but I can not say definitely.
51. Q. Captain, were you familiar with the activities of the District Intelligence Office in the Fourteenth Naval District?
A. Yes, sir.
52. Q. Will you please state your impression at the time as to the effectiveness of this office in performing its duties?
A. So far as I know, it was a satisfactory office. In other words, I had no reason to believe that it was not.
53. Q. Did you know at the time the views held by the Commandant, Admiral Bloch, with respect to the activities of the District Intelligence Office, in, say, the six months preceding Pearl Harbor?
A. So far as I know; Admiral Bloch was satisfied with the Intelligence Office.
54. Q. How closely were you kept in touch, in November, 1941 and early December, with the results which were obtained by the unit headed by Lieutenant Commander Rochefort?
A. I knew nothing of the results obtained from their activities.
55. Q. Captain, during the latter half of 1941, how frequently were air raid drills conducted in the Fourteenth Naval District?
A. My recollection is that not oftener than every three or four weeks.
56. Q. Did you, at the time, consider that this number of drills was adequate to prepare the District for defense against air raid?
A. My Operations Officer and I discussed that point several times and though we felt that additional drills might be desirable, yet we didn't succeed in getting any more; just why, I don't recall, probably because of the general feeling that these big drills took up too much time.
57. Q. What major deficiencies were noted during the air raid drills late in 1941?
A. I do not recall any specific deficiencies, except that there was some difficulty in communications and in the ability of the air groups to find their targets, and the failure of other shore establishments to comply with the air raid drill instructions to man all stations.
58. Q. What do you mean by "other establishments"?
A. I mean the other naval stations on the Island of Oahu. We even extended the drill, sometimes, to Maui, in order to make sure that they were coordinating their action with the movements on Oahu.
59. Q. What corrective action was taken in connection with these deficiencies that you have outlined?
A. Other than general discussion, I recall no definite steps. In these discussions, necessary corrective action was indicated.
60. Q. Did you consider, just prior to December 7, 1941, that the difficulties had been ironed out and that the Fourteenth Naval District was effectively prepared to meet an air raid in the event of war?
A. I can't say that we were effectively prepared to meet an air raid. What we felt was that we were improving the system available and that if there were enough planes and ships and guns available, that the defense would be acceptable. In other words, we were playing with what we had.
61. Q. Did you, at that time, consider that your air raid defense system was as effective as it could be made with what you had available?
A. Yes, we thought that with what we had available, it was pretty good.
62. Q. Did Fleet units present at Pearl Harbor take part in these air raid drills?
A. Oh, yes, they had to man their guns and signals were sent to the various Sector Commanders and ships. We also used target planes so that they could actually point their guns at planes going and coming over the Pearl Harbor area.
63. Q. Was their participation in these drills satisfactory to you and the Commandant?
A. We only knew whether it was satisfactory, or not, depending upon the communications, whether the signals were answered, or not, whether the reports were received from the Sector Commander, or not, showing the number of ships that he had available. We had Harbor Control vessels in the harbor but, so far as I know, no report was ever received indicating whether the ships, themselves, were efficient in this problem.
64. Q. Were air raid drills held in which the Army units on Oahu participated?
A. So far as I know, they participated, but we had no way of checking up. In other words, I can recall having seen Army units of mobile anti-aircraft coming into the Navy Yard, but whether this was before or after December 7, I do not recall.
65. Q. Insofar as you were able to observe, was the coordination between the Army and Navy units, during such joint air raid drills, satisfactory?
A. Yes, except in minor cases. By "minor", I mean failures of communication, and somebody not getting the word.
66. Q. Were efforts made to straighten out these minor difficulties?
67. Q. Captain, when did you first learn of the submarine contact off Pearl Harbor on the morning of 7 December?
A. About seven-ten in the morning.
68. Q. Did it occur to you at that time that the presence of the submarine might indicate that an air attack was imminent?
A. Not the slightest. It is interesting to note, however, that we had based some of our plans upon that very contingency.
69. Q. What was your reaction to this information?
A. My reaction was that the enemy had decided to be a little more active with his submarine campaign, or that the WARD, who had made the report, was making another mistake. We had had, on the average, ten or fifteen reports of submarines sighted in that area in the several months preceding Pearl.
70. Q. What action, based on this contact, did you take?
A. I told the Watch Officer to be sure and get the dispatch verified, to notify the Commander-in-Chief's Watch Officer immediately, and to get hold of Commander Momsen, our Operations Officer, and give him the information, and then I called Admiral Bloch and told him what the report was, what I had done, and we discussed the matter over the telephone for, I suppose, five or ten minutes to try to decide what was the reliability of this word and what steps should be taken.
As the matter had been referred to the Commander-in-Chief, we decided that we would wait further developments.
71. Q. During your telephone conversation with Admiral Bloch, did the possibility that an air attack might be indicated by the presence of the submarine receive discussion or consideration?
72. Q. Captain, a portion of this Exhibit 22 (Enclosure C), concerning which you have been questioned, is a joint estimate of the situation, under date of 31 March, 1941, signed by Admiral Bellinger and by General Martin. It contains, under the heading "Possible Enemy Action" a statement to the effect that the most likely form of attack on Oahu would be an air attack. Were the opinions thereby expressed by aviation officers very much in your mind during the weeks and months preceding 7 December '41?
A. Yes, we considered this point, but, somehow or other, we always felt that "it couldn't happen here", and that this estimate which you have referred to was one officer's opinion-a very valuable officer-and that while it could happen, that we didn't believe the Japanese would take that chance.
73. Q. Captain, under the provisions of 2CL-41 (Exhibit 4), was there, on the morning of December 7,1941, a large number of battleship anti-aircraft guns so placed that they bore upon the sector through which the Japanese torpedo planes attacked?
A. A great many torpedo planes attacked from the sector up over the channel to the submarine base. These battleships were, therefore, in a position to use their anti-aircraft guns against them. I did, however, see a number of planes attacking from the housing area to the northeast, and the battleships' guns would not have been well placed for that attack.
74. Q. But is it true that a considerable proportion of the Japanese torpedo planes attacked from the southeast?
A. It is true.
75. Q. Is it also true that there were a great many battleship antiaircraft guns emplaced so that they could bear on that attack?
76. Q. In view of the well-known vulnerability of torpedo planes making close attacks of low altitudes, to what do you ascribe the fact that this large mass of guns failed to stop most, if not in fact nearly all, of the torpedo planes coming in from the southeast?
77. Q. About how long after the initial appearance of Japanese planes did the torpedo planes attack from the southeast?
A. I don't know. The first thing I saw was low-level torpedo planes at about 7:50.
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 regret to note that in a great many instances my testimony has been vague and indefinite.
In explanation, it is desired to call attention to the fact that not only has a great deal of time elapsed since the attack on Pearl Harbor, hut that I remained on duty as Chief of Staff of the Fourteenth Naval District, later, also, becoming Chief of Staff of the Hawaiian Sea Frontier and Assistant Commandment of the District, until I was detached in May, 1943. I, therefore, find a  tendency on my part to recall related events after Pearl Harbor much clearer than I do those before.
The witness was duly warned and withdrew.
The examining officer then, at 12:03 p. m., took a recess until 4:05 p. m., at which time the examination was reconvened.
Present: The examining officer, his counsel and assistant counsel, and the reporter.
No witnesses not otherwise connected with the examination were present.
Captain J. B. Earle, U. S. Navy, who had previously testified, was called before the examining officer, informed that his oath previously taken was still binding, and stated that he had read over the testimony given by him on the thirty-fourth day of the examination, pronounced it correct, was duly warned, and withdrew.
The examination then, at 4:08 p. m., was adjourned to await the call of the examining officer.