CinC File No.
UNITED STATES FLEET
U. S. S. NEW MEXICO, Flagship,
Pearl Harbor, T. H., Jan. 7, 1941.
First Endorsement to
Com 14 Conf. Ltr.
(629) of 30 Dec. 1940.
From: Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet.
To: The Chief of Naval Operations.
Subject: Situation Concerning the Security of the Fleet and the Present
Ability of the Local Defense Forces to Meet Surprise Attacks.
1. Forwarded. The Commander-in-Chief has conferred with the Commandant Fourteenth Naval District and the Commanding General of the Hawaiian Department. As a result of the conference with the Commanding General, Hawaiian Department, and an inspection in company with him, information was furnished the Commandant Fourteenth Naval District who prepared the basic letter. The Commander-in-Chief concurs with the Commandant Fourteenth Naval District who prepared the basic letter. The Commander-in-Chief concurs with the Commandant Fourteenth Naval District in the opinion that the present Army Pursuit Squadrons and antiaircraft batteries are inadequate to protect the Fleet and Pearl Harbor against air attack. When established the proposed pursuit strength will be adequate. The proposed total of 68 mobile three-inch guns for this area is not considered adequate. With the almost continuous high ceiling prevailing in this area a materially greater number of larger and longer range antiaircraft guns are necessary to counter high altitude bombing attacks on Pearl Harbor.
2. As neither the increased antiaircraft batteries nor the augmented pursuit squadrons will be available for an extended period the defense of Fleet units within Pearl Harbor will have to be augmented by that portion of the Fleet which may be in Pearl Harbor in event of attack by hostile aircraft. Plans for co-operation with the local defense forces are being made. At present the continuous readiness of carrier fighter squadrons or antiaircraft batteries is not contemplated. The improbability of such an attack under present conditions does not, in the opinion of the Commander-in-Chief, warrant interrupting entirely the training required by Fleet air units which would have to be largely curtailed if constant readiness of a fighter squadron were required.
3. There does not appear to be any practicable way of placing torpedo baffles or nets within the harbor to protect the ships moored therein against torpedo plane attack without greatly limiting the activities within the harbor, particularly the movements of large ships and the landing and take-off of patrol squadrons. Inasmuch as Pearl Harbor is the only operating base available to the Fleet in this area any passive defense measures that will further restrict the use of the base as such should be avoided. Considering this and the improbability of such an attack under present conditions and the unlikelihood of an enemy being able to advance carriers sufficiently near in wartime in the face of active Fleet operations, it is not considered necessary to lay such nets.
4. The defense against submarines and mines are considered adequate under present peace time conditions, but early installation of underwater sound submarine detection system should be made. Also the delivery of the required ships to the Fourteenth Naval District Defense Forces should be expedited, particularly ships for sweeping magnetic and anchored mines.
5. In this connection, it is urgently recommended that Local Defense Forces, adequate for the protection of naval installations at Pearl Harbor and the Fleet units based thereon, be provided the Commandant Fourteenth Naval District. In order to provide freedom of action for the United States Fleet, and further, to avoid the necessity for detailing important Fleet units (because no other ships are available) to tasks requiring only part of their full capabilities, it is considered that the forces provided should be sufficient for full protection and should be independent of the presence or absence of ships of the U. S. Fleet. It is further considered that the provision of adequate Local Defense Forces for the Fourteenth Naval District should be given higher priority than continental Naval Districts, where both the possibilities of, and objectives for, attack are much less.
J. O. Richardson.
J. O. RICHARDSON.
(PROCEEDINGS OF THE HART INQUIRY)