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Admiral Hart, and his fleet of 29 subs, Fall, 1941

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  • gerald_hgn
    I am vexed by the following question: Certainly by October, or early November of 1941, US intel was quite certain that the Japanese were going to strike
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 5, 2006
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      I am vexed by the following question:

      Certainly by October, or early November of 1941, US intel was quite
      certain that the Japanese were going to strike "somewhere": The PI,
      Canal Zone, Hawaii (as several war games showed.)

      The US, it "appears" relied only on transmitted intercepts. Clearly,
      we had no human intel on the ground in Japan, and Japan was within
      his area of command.

      Unlike Kimmel, Hart had access to ULTRA.

      One thing Hart had was 29 submarines, 25 of which were first class,
      with a 12,000 mile range.

      I cannot understand WHY he was not shadowing the Japanese naval
      bases/harbors for their fleet movements.

      If the gathering of the carriers in the far north had been observed,
      their intended targets might have detected.

      The only reasons I can come up with are:

      1. This option did not occur to him.
      2. His "budget" was limited, and he did not want to spend the money.
      3. This "option" was above his pay grade.

      My honest opinion is that this use of his subs for this purpose did
      not occcur to him.

      You will recall that Hart went on to lesser and lesser things after
      he lost his command.

      As far as I can tell, this question has never been asked.

      I would appreciate any/all comments on this question.

      Jerry
    • donkehnjr
      ... quite ... PI, ... Clearly, ... class, ... observed, ... money. ... did ... after ... Hello Jerry: Off the cuff, I would say Hart certainly did not have 25
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 5, 2006
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        --- In theusasiaticfleet@yahoogroups.com, "gerald_hgn" <SAR_SCV@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > I am vexed by the following question:
        >
        > Certainly by October, or early November of 1941, US intel was
        quite
        > certain that the Japanese were going to strike "somewhere": The
        PI,
        > Canal Zone, Hawaii (as several war games showed.)
        >
        > The US, it "appears" relied only on transmitted intercepts.
        Clearly,
        > we had no human intel on the ground in Japan, and Japan was within
        > his area of command.
        >
        > Unlike Kimmel, Hart had access to ULTRA.
        >
        > One thing Hart had was 29 submarines, 25 of which were first
        class,
        > with a 12,000 mile range.
        >
        > I cannot understand WHY he was not shadowing the Japanese naval
        > bases/harbors for their fleet movements.
        >
        > If the gathering of the carriers in the far north had been
        observed,
        > their intended targets might have detected.
        >
        > The only reasons I can come up with are:
        >
        > 1. This option did not occur to him.
        > 2. His "budget" was limited, and he did not want to spend the
        money.
        > 3. This "option" was above his pay grade.
        >
        > My honest opinion is that this use of his subs for this purpose
        did
        > not occcur to him.
        >
        > You will recall that Hart went on to lesser and lesser things
        after
        > he lost his command.
        >
        > As far as I can tell, this question has never been asked.
        >
        > I would appreciate any/all comments on this question.
        >
        > Jerry
        >
        Hello Jerry:

        Off the cuff, I would say Hart certainly did not have 25 "first-
        class" (whatever that means) subs operational in Oct/Nov 1941, but
        even if he had the idea of vectoring out these boats as far north as
        you are suggesting, given the level of training they then had, it
        would not have been done. If you read of Wilkes' idea of manuevers
        during this period I think you will understand my reservations. It
        would be a good year of more (at least) before our sub commanders
        began to really hit their stride. We were also trying to avoid
        provoking the Japanese at that stage in Fall 1941...although later
        FDR did undertake the silly LANAKAI business. And you are probably
        right when you say it wouldn't have occurred to Hart...in the sense
        that no one seriously imagined the Japanese capable of sending a
        sizeable TF across the north-central Pacific to hit Pearl Harbor.
        This blinkered thinking also seems to negate your supposition about
        our being able to pinpoint potential targets simply by noting 'Kido
        Butai' moving north. That strikes me as a stretch.
        I must say I think it's hard to find too much fault with Hart--
        particularly in contrast with the ridiculous admiration MacArthur's
        trumped-up press releases garnered (in the public eye, that is)--
        since he was given a pretty hot potato very late in his career. In
        view of the material weaknesses of the Asiatic Fleet, the Dutch, and
        the British units in the Far East at that time,all of which were
        VERY well-grasped by Hart (his "Supplementary" is a fine
        documentation of the situation and his decision-making in the Java
        campaign), I think he managed as well as one could have hoped under
        such desperate circumstances. And although you disparage the
        remainder of his career, he never falsified his record, or took a
        500,000 dollar golden handshake, and Hart is perhaps the ONLY US
        commanders of such rank that I have ever read of who had the courage
        to take responsibility for his decisions--good and bad--and admit
        his mistakes in his official writings. Something you will note
        Douglas "Move Over God" MacArthur never dreamt of doing. Hart never
        forgot the sacrifices of his Asiatic sailors and officers, and never
        lowered himself to self-deception in later years. It was not for
        nothing that in the concluding paragraphs of his "Supplementary"
        Hart once more spoke of the heavy and unnecessary losses incurred by
        the Asiatic Fleet, which as he wrote, rivalled those of Tarawa, but
        never elicited such public dismay.
        Just some immediate reactions & thoughts.

        Best regards,

        Don Kehn, Jr.
      • Vic Campbell
        I tend to agreew with Don Kehn. My grasp of the entire picture is not as technical as his own, but it does seem to me that Hart s strategic picture as well as
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 6, 2006
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          I tend to agreew with Don Kehn. My grasp of the entire picture is not
          as technical as his own, but it does seem to me that Hart's strategic
          picture as well as that of the Pacific Command was focused on an
          attack to come against the Asian fleets and forces. This was wrong in
          hindsight, but the concept of a carrier strike on Pearl Harbor was for
          many reasons considered remote. The politics that followed December 8
          (in the PI) were atrocious and cost a lot of lives and men and ships.
          Wick Alford's book is an outstanding look at this period from the eyes
          of an Asiatic Fleet Junior Officer.
          http://www.merriam-press.com/mono_100/m093.htm
        • donkehnjr
          ... within ... as ... manuevers ... sense ... about ... noting Kido ... MacArthur s ... In ... and ... under ... courage ... never ... never ... by ... but
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 10, 2006
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            --- In theusasiaticfleet@yahoogroups.com, donkehnjr <no_reply@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > --- In theusasiaticfleet@yahoogroups.com, "gerald_hgn" <SAR_SCV@>
            > wrote:
            > >
            > > I am vexed by the following question:
            > >
            > > Certainly by October, or early November of 1941, US intel was
            > quite
            > > certain that the Japanese were going to strike "somewhere": The
            > PI,
            > > Canal Zone, Hawaii (as several war games showed.)
            > >
            > > The US, it "appears" relied only on transmitted intercepts.
            > Clearly,
            > > we had no human intel on the ground in Japan, and Japan was
            within
            > > his area of command.
            > >
            > > Unlike Kimmel, Hart had access to ULTRA.
            > >
            > > One thing Hart had was 29 submarines, 25 of which were first
            > class,
            > > with a 12,000 mile range.
            > >
            > > I cannot understand WHY he was not shadowing the Japanese naval
            > > bases/harbors for their fleet movements.
            > >
            > > If the gathering of the carriers in the far north had been
            > observed,
            > > their intended targets might have detected.
            > >
            > > The only reasons I can come up with are:
            > >
            > > 1. This option did not occur to him.
            > > 2. His "budget" was limited, and he did not want to spend the
            > money.
            > > 3. This "option" was above his pay grade.
            > >
            > > My honest opinion is that this use of his subs for this purpose
            > did
            > > not occcur to him.
            > >
            > > You will recall that Hart went on to lesser and lesser things
            > after
            > > he lost his command.
            > >
            > > As far as I can tell, this question has never been asked.
            > >
            > > I would appreciate any/all comments on this question.
            > >
            > > Jerry
            > >
            > Hello Jerry:
            >
            > Off the cuff, I would say Hart certainly did not have 25 "first-
            > class" (whatever that means) subs operational in Oct/Nov 1941, but
            > even if he had the idea of vectoring out these boats as far north
            as
            > you are suggesting, given the level of training they then had, it
            > would not have been done. If you read of Wilkes' idea of
            manuevers
            > during this period I think you will understand my reservations. It
            > would be a good year of more (at least) before our sub commanders
            > began to really hit their stride. We were also trying to avoid
            > provoking the Japanese at that stage in Fall 1941...although later
            > FDR did undertake the silly LANAKAI business. And you are probably
            > right when you say it wouldn't have occurred to Hart...in the
            sense
            > that no one seriously imagined the Japanese capable of sending a
            > sizeable TF across the north-central Pacific to hit Pearl Harbor.
            > This blinkered thinking also seems to negate your supposition
            about
            > our being able to pinpoint potential targets simply by
            noting 'Kido
            > Butai' moving north. That strikes me as a stretch.
            > I must say I think it's hard to find too much fault with Hart--
            > particularly in contrast with the ridiculous admiration
            MacArthur's
            > trumped-up press releases garnered (in the public eye, that is)--
            > since he was given a pretty hot potato very late in his career.
            In
            > view of the material weaknesses of the Asiatic Fleet, the Dutch,
            and
            > the British units in the Far East at that time,all of which were
            > VERY well-grasped by Hart (his "Supplementary" is a fine
            > documentation of the situation and his decision-making in the Java
            > campaign), I think he managed as well as one could have hoped
            under
            > such desperate circumstances. And although you disparage the
            > remainder of his career, he never falsified his record, or took a
            > 500,000 dollar golden handshake, and Hart is perhaps the ONLY US
            > commanders of such rank that I have ever read of who had the
            courage
            > to take responsibility for his decisions--good and bad--and admit
            > his mistakes in his official writings. Something you will note
            > Douglas "Move Over God" MacArthur never dreamt of doing. Hart
            never
            > forgot the sacrifices of his Asiatic sailors and officers, and
            never
            > lowered himself to self-deception in later years. It was not for
            > nothing that in the concluding paragraphs of his "Supplementary"
            > Hart once more spoke of the heavy and unnecessary losses incurred
            by
            > the Asiatic Fleet, which as he wrote, rivalled those of Tarawa,
            but
            > never elicited such public dismay.
            > Just some immediate reactions & thoughts.
            >
            > Best regards,
            >
            > Don Kehn, Jr.
            >
            Hello all:

            I was quick to say that I doubted if Hart had 25 first class subs
            at his disposal on Dec 8, 1941, and went back to my Asiatic Fleet
            Order of Battle (from the redoubtable David Wright), and found that
            although there were 29 subs listed, only 23 were true fleet
            submarines--certainly the old S-boats were not, though they
            undertook many dangerous & heroic missions in that first year--and
            by no means were all of these remaining submarines fully operational
            at the time. As noted, also, the training these ships' crews had
            received up until then, as well as the faulty torpedo exploders, was
            as likely to cripple as to assure success.
            Having said this, Jerry's IS an interesting question, and to
            reiterate, I do not doubt it never occurred (seriously) to Adm. Hart
            to attempt such...The operations later conducted off northern Japan
            by some of the older submarines make for very grim reading. In any
            case, one should bear in mind the extremely charged political
            atmosphere of that period, the intense bellicosity of the Japanese,
            and the somewhat complacent attitude of most Western military men in
            the Far East.
            However, we DID have some intelligence on the ground in Japan-
            -not least in the person of Cdr. Henri ("Hank")Smith-Hutton, our USN
            attache in Tokyo [and former Asiatic Fleet intelligence officer
            aboard USS HOUSTON CA30] who was apparently the first person to
            learn that the Imperial Japanese Navy had upgunned their MOGAMI-
            class cruisers from 6.1" to 8", AND the first to know of Japan's
            super-secret 24" oxygen-fuelled torpedo. Both of these intelligence
            coups by Smith-Hutton were disregarded by his superiors in
            Washington...and the effectiveness of these weapons systems was
            first experienced all-too-painfully by the Asiatic Fleet.
            Nevertheless, Smith-Hutton's subsequent testimony in the Pearl
            Harbor hearings (he was repatriated in the GRIPSHOLM exchanges) show
            how restricted his intelligence-gathering was immediately prior to
            the PH strikes.

            HTH,

            Don
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