On 27 November 1941, CinCPac dispatch 280355 (1725 Hawaiian time, 27 Nov.). This dispatch reads, in part: “Depth bomb all submarine contacts suspected to be hostile in OAHU operating areas except Areas CAST 5 and CAST 7.” (24)

On 10 November 1941 Lieutenant Commander Harold Kaminski, OIC of the Net and Boom Defense at Pearl Harbor, issued an order stating, in part: “All officers and men of the Net and Boom Defenses will be in a state of readiness and on station not later than 0700, Wednesday, 12 November 1941.” Kaminski told the Roberts Commission, “I did not like the looks of things.”

According to the Stimson diary, at noon on 25 November 1941, a White House meeting took place. (This was the day before the U.S. 10-Point Note was given by Secretary Hull to Ambassadors Nomura and Kurusu.) This White House meeting was attended by the President, Secretaries Hull, Knox and Stimson, Admiral Stark and General Marshall. Referring to FDR, Mr. Stimson wrote: “He brought up the event that we were likely to be attacked perhaps (as soon as) next Monday, for the Japanese are notorious for making an attack without warning, and the question was what we should do. The question was how we should maneuver them into the position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves. It was a difficult proposition.” (25)

On 1 December 1941, a Navy Department dispatch was sent to Admiral Thomas C. Hart in the Philippines. This dispatch began: “President directs that the following be done as soon as possible and within two days if possible after receipt [of] this dispatch. Charter three small vessels to form a quote defensive information patrol unquote.” Specific instructions were given and the dispatch ordered “Report measures taken to carry out President’s views.” (26)

This dispatch may reflect President Roosevelt’s desire to reduce the “danger to ourselves” from a Japanese first overt act. We give the President credit for trying if this is the case.

Prior to being relieved, Admiral James O. Richardson wrote a seven page letter to CNO, Admiral Stark. The subject of this letter was: Chief of Naval Operations’ Plan DOG. This letter is dated 25 January 1941. Item 10 on the final page reads: “This letter has been prepared in collaboration with the prospective Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral H.E. Kimmel, USN. It represents his, as well as my own, views.”

On the first page of this letter, under Item 3, it states in part: “…the major offensive effort of the United States is to be exerted in the Atlantic, rather than in the Pacific, and in that a `waiting attitude’ will be taken in the Pacific, pending a determination of Japan’s intentions. If Japan enters the war or commits an overt act against United States’ interests or territory, our attitude in the Pacific will be primarily defensive, but opportunities will be seized to damage Japan as situations present themselves or can be created.”  (27)


(24) Extract from CinCPac 280355 dispatch of 27 November 1941 (Hawaiian date), see PHA17, p. 2496. Admiral Kimmel notified the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, of his order to depth bomb all submarine contacts in the Fleet’s operating area in the vicinity of Oahu.

(25) Extract from diary entry of 25 November 1941 of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, see PHA11, p. 5433. Mr. Stimson did not testify in person before the JCC on Pearl Harbor.

(26) OPNAV 012356 (sent at 2056 Eastern time, 1 Dec. 1941. Photostatic copy of dispatch in authors’ collection.

(27) Photostatic copy of the original letter, stamped “SECRET,” made at Archives II in College Park, Maryland. (Declassification Authority NND-968133.) In a slightly different form, this letter of 25 January 1941 is found in JCC exhibit 9, see PHA14, pp. 923-1000 (with specific reference to pp. 993-999).

By Andy and Debbie McKane