Response to CNO's Plan Dog

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Response to CNO's Plan Dog
by James O. Richardson
Response to Harold Rainsford Stark's Plan dog memo. January 25, 1941



From: Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet.
To: The Chief of Naval Operations.


Subject: Chief of Naval Operations' Plan DOG.

References:

(a) Opnav Secret despatch 212155 of January, 1941
(b) Opnav memorandum for Secnav Op-12-CTB of November 12, 1940.


1. Reference (a) was received by the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet, one day prior to the arrival of Commander McCrea at Pearl Harbor en route to the Navy Department. It is considered desirable to take advantage of his return to inform the Chief of Naval Operations of the views of the Commander-in-Chief as to the new situation.

2. In view of reference (a) and some degree of urgency implied therein, it is considered that study of the new situation and the preparation of plans therefor should take priority over the preparation of plans for Rainbow No. 3. Unless advice to the contrary is received, this will be done.

3. The new situation, as visualized by the Commander-in-Chief, alters the assumptions and concepts of Rainbow No. 3, principally in that the major offensive effort of the United States is to be exerted in the Atlantic rather than 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.

4. Under the foregoing general conception, it is deemed desirable to outline as briefly as possible, certain tentative assumptions, upon which the actions of the U.S. Fleet in the Pacific will be predicated. These are:

(a) The United States is at war with Germany and Italy.
(b) War with Japan is imminent.
(c) Units of the Pacific Fleet may be detached to the Atlantic on short notice. The numbers and types of these units are at present unknown.
(d) At least three German Raiders are in the Pacific.
(e) Japan may attack without warning, and these attacks may take any form -- even to attacks by Japanese ships flying German or Italian flags or by submarines, under a doubtful presumption that they may be considered German or Italian.
(f) Japanese attacks may be expected against shipping, outlying possessions or naval units. Surprise raids on Pearl Harbor, or attempts to block the channel, are possible.
(g) Local sabotage is possible.

5. Under the foregoing assumptions, the U.S. Fleet in the Pacific will assume the tasks listed below. Where deemed appropriate, measures to be taken under the tasks will be included.

Waiting Attitude
(1) Take full security measures for the protection of Fleet units, at sea and in port.
In the performance of this task, the Fleet is severely handicapped by the existence of certain marked deficiencies in the existing local defense forces and equipment both of Army and Navy. These deficiencies will be set forth in detail later, but are mention here in order that certain measures listed below may be more clearly understood.
At present, the following measures, among others, will be required to accomplish the above task:
(a) Expand patrol plane search to the maximum, re-enforcing Patrol Wing Two with units from Patrol Wing One.
(b) Establish inner air patrol over Pearl and Honolulu Harbor entrances and approaches, augmenting Army planes with naval and marine planes as necessary.
(c) Arrange for alertness of a striking force of Army bombers and pursuit planes; supplemented by available Navy or Marine planes.
(d) Augment Army A.A. defenses with A.A. batteries of Fleet units in Pearl Harbor.
(2) Keep vessels of all types in constant readiness for distant service.
(3) Assist in local defense of the Fourteenth Naval District.
This task will require augmentation of District Forces by the assignment of Fleet units until suitable vessels, including those of the Coast Guard, become available to the Commandant.
(4) Protect United States' shipping. This will require the following:
(a) Provide escorts for important ships.
(b) Route allied and United States' shipping in the Fleet Control Zone.
(c) Base cruisers on Samoa to cover shipping in the Fleet Control Zone.
(d) Despatch the Southeastern Pacific Force.
(e) Establish escort and patrol group between Hawaii and the West Coast.
(f) Maintain striking group to operate against raiders (search for raiders might afford opportunity to reconnoiter the Marshall Islands without provoking Japan).
(5) Protection of outlying islands. This will require the following:
(a) Establish defense battalions at Midway and Samoa and smaller units at Johnston, Wake, Palmyra and Canton.
(b) Maintain submarine patrols at all the above-mentioned islands, except Samoa.
(c) Despatch two submarines, plus the ORTOLAN, for the defense of Unalaska.
(6) Adjust U.S. Fleet training to war conditions.
Additional Measures if Japan enters War
(7) Make initial sweep for Japanese merchantmen and raiders in the Northern Pacific.
(8) Establish submarine patrols in the Marshall Islands, withdrawing them from own outlying islands as necessary.
(9) Make early reconnaissance in force of the Marshall Islands. Thereafter conduct a general surveillance of that area and make raids on forces, material installations, and communications therein.
(10) Make periodic sweeps toward the Marianas and Bonins.

6. It will, of course, be realized that the effectiveness with which the tasks set forth above can be prosecuted is dependent upon the forces available, especially after the withdrawal of the Atlantic reenforcement. If a carrier is to be included in the Atlantic reenforcement, one of the LEXINGTON class should be selected due to difficulties of handling in Pearl Harbor. There is, however, definite need for all four carriers under the tasks assigned to this fleet.

7. In connection with the execution of the foregoing tasks, and with particular reference to the early initiation of offensive operations, it must be pointed out that the existing deficiencies in the defenses of Oahu and in the Local Defense Forces of the Fourteenth Naval District impose a heavy burden on the Fleet for purely defensive purposes. Ideally, a Fleet Base should afford refuge and rest for personnel as well as opportunity for maintenance and upkeep of material installations. When Fleet planes, Fleet guns and Fleet personnel are required to be constantly ready for defense of its own base, the wear and tear on both men and material can not but result in impaired readiness for active operations at sea. The most outstanding deficiencies affecting this readiness of the Fleet are:

(a) The critical inadequacy of A.A. guns available for the defense of Pearl Harbor, necessitating constant manning of ships' A.A. guns while in port.
(b) The small number and obsolescent condition of land-based aircraft, necessitating constant readiness of striking groups of Fleet planes and use of Fleet planes for local patrols.
(c) Lack of suitable local defense vessels for the Fourteenth Naval District, necessitating detail of Fleet units to this duty. The detail of Fleet units to this duty not only results in loss, to the Fleet, of the availability of important vessels, but also results in the forced employment of ships whose more valuable characteristics will be largely wasted due to the nature of their tasks. This is particularly true where destroyers must be diverted to local A/S patrol, off-shore patrol and local escort. These duties could be better performed by submarine chasers, converted gunboats and converted escort vessels.
(d) Lack of aircraft detection devices ashore.

8. It is considered imperative that immediate measures be undertaken to correct the critical deficiencies enumerated above. It is further believed that these measures should take priority over the needs of continental districts, the training program, and material aid to Great Britain.

9. It is recommended that the Alaskan and Hawaiian reenforcements referred to in paragraph 2103(a)(5) of W.P.L. 44 (advance copy) be despatched as soon as possible in order that necessity for heavy escort may not embarrass the U.S. Pacific Fleet in its later operations.

10. This letter has been prepared in collaboration with the prospective Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral H. E. Kimmel, U.S.N. It represents his, as well as my own, views.

J.O. RICHARDSON

Copy to:

Rear Admiral H. E. Kimmel

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).