The Pearl Harbor Invasion DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARDWASHINGTON DC 20374-5060
Before the Invasion • May 1940, the main part of the United States Fleet was transferred there from the west coast • The Navy Yard had • a dry dock capable of holding the largest warships, • a marine railway for smaller ones, • and an industrial plant for repairing and maintaining these ships • a Naval Air Station for combat landplanes and patrol seaplanes
Before the Invasion • This was still not nearly enough to support the Fleet • Pearl Harbor's area was limited and its opening to the sea was but a single narrow channel • transportation from the west coast was slow and of insufficient carrying capacity • Accordingly, Fleet readiness was handicapped, its security was well below optimum levels, and its morale was impaired • During 1940-41, construction of new facilities was undertaken to address some of these problems
Before the Raid • The Pearl Harbor naval base was recognized by both the Japanese and the United States Navies as a potential target for hostile carrier air power • However its distance from Japan and shallow harbor persuaded U.S. officers that an attack on Pearl Harbor would be unlikely • Japanese had reached similar conclusions. However, their need for secure Southeast Asia and the East Indies spurred the Commander Isoroku Yamamoto to revisit the issue
The Japanese Mission • All six of Japan's aircraft carrier were assigned to the mission • With over 420 planes, these ships constituted the most powerful carrier task force ever assembled • also included battleships, cruisers and destroyers, with tankers to fuel the ships during their passage across the Pacific • large submarines were sent to scout around Hawaii, and torpedo American warships that might escape to sea
The Japanese Mission • Under the greatest secrecy, Nagumo took his ships to sea in November 1941, with orders to abort the mission if he was discovered • Before dawn on the 7th of December, the Pearl Harbor Striking Force was less than three-hundred miles north of Pearl Harbor • The first attack wave of over 180 aircraft, including torpedo fighter and bomber planes was launched in the darkness and flew off to the south
The Attack of Pearl Harbor • When the first attack wave arrived over Pearl Harbor seven of their primary targets, the U.S. battleships, were moored along "Battleship Row“ • At 7:55 am, Dive bombers attacked the airfields destroying many aircraft • This attack prompted the dispatch of the famous message • "Air raid, Pearl Harbor -- this is no drill", the outside World's first indication that war had come to the Pacific.
The Attack of Pearl Harbor • Within a few moments, torpedo planes attacked from east and west, hitting USS Helena, USS Utah and USS Raleigh • The majority of the torpedo planes came in from the east hitting the USS California, USS Nevada, USS Oklahoma and West Virginia • Bombers swept up "Battleship Row.” Several ships were hit. The USS Arizona blew up with a tremendous explosion
The Attack of Pearl Harbor • The second attack wave hit the Navy Yard, where they bombed the battleship Pennsylvania and three destroyers • Other dive bombers went after the USS Nevada, which was trying to get to sea • The second attack’s losses were significantly greater than those of the first attack wave.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor • The raiders had no opportunity to hit American aircraft carriers, all of which were at sea, • They did not target fuel storage, most cruisers and destroyers, submarines and most maintenance facilities • In under two hours they wrecked the U.S. battleship force, ensuring that it would not interfere with Japan's plans for conquest.
The Aftermath and US Reaction • No sooner had the raid ended than U.S. forces attempted to locate the Japanese carrier fleet • Many cruisers and destroyers left Pearl Harbor, joining the aircraft carrier Enterprise • The few surviving flight-worthy aircraft were also sent out • the search went South rather than North where Japanese ships were already heading out after recovering their planes. • Fortunately for the outnumbered Americans, no contact was made
The Aftermath and US Reaction • On 8 December, President Roosevelt and Congress declared war against Japan • Within a few days, Germany and Italy had declared war on the United States • When Admiral William F. Halsey brought his Enterprise back to Pearl Harbor, he commented, • "Before we're through with 'em, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell!"