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Naval History of WWII. Presented by Bruce. A. Apgar, Jr., CDR, USN (RET). Naval History of World War II. 1937-1945 in the Pacific Japanese invade China 1939-1945 in the Atlantic Germans invade Poland. What Caused the War. Global Depression Japanese industrialization and expansionism

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naval history of wwii

Naval History of WWII

Presented by Bruce. A. Apgar, Jr., CDR, USN (RET)

naval history of world war ii
Naval History of World War II
  • 1937-1945 in the Pacific
    • Japanese invade China
  • 1939-1945 in the Atlantic
    • Germans invade Poland
what caused the war
What Caused the War
  • Global Depression
  • Japanese industrialization and expansionism
    • Rise of Militarists in Japan and Nazis in Germany
  • After-effects of the The Great War
naval arms race
Naval Arms Race
  • Push for peace and economic realities
    • Washington Naval Conference, 1922
      • Limits Capital Ships of US, UK, Japan, France, Italy
      • Size and numbers of Battleships and Cruisers
    • 1st & 2nd London Naval Conference, 1930; 1936
      • Limits on numbers of smaller combatants
    • Civil War naval combat: 30-70 yds vs. WWII naval combat 9-10 miles! (planes hundreds of miles)

Limited growth of existing Navies…prompted Japan to replace many older generation ships. Also freed resources to the development of Naval Aviation…a new technology that would change the nature of Naval Warfare….Theory of Air Power: General Billy Mitchell

tension builds
Tension Builds
  • Japan’s growing economy demands raw materials
    • Iron, Oil, Rubber
  • With these resources unavailable in the home islands, Japanese begin to look toward the rich resources of the island chains that surround the Pacific
  • Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere
    • Similar to Manifest Destiny?
tension builds1
Tension Builds
  • Europe’s economy in ruins after WWI
  • Reparations devastated Germany
  • Hitler’s rise to power
    • Remilitarization and the annexation of neighboring “German” Provinces
war breaks out in pacific
War Breaks out in Pacific
  • 1937 Japanese invade China
    • Results in a series of diplomatic actions that culminate in US embargo of certain industrial materials to Japan, especially oil and scrap metal.
war breaks out in europe
War Breaks out in Europe
  • 1939 Germany (& USSR) invades Poland
    • Results in Britain and France declaring war on Germany.
    • Germany rolls over Allies and begins attempt to starve out the Allies through naval disruption of the military supplies to England.
      • Evacuation of Dunkirk
  • Germany invades Russia

in 1941

us sits by and watches
US Sits By and Watches?
  • Naval War between Great Britain and Germany neutralizes Germany’s surface fleet.
  • Lend-lease program
  • Submarine Warfare
  • Military-industrial build-up
    • George C. Marshall
    • Harold R. Stark
dec 7 1941
DEC 7, 1941
  • Japan decides that the time to act has come
    • Massive raid on US base at Hawaii
      • Devastates bulk of the US Battle Fleet
      • Aircraft Carriers and fuel depots survive
  • US declares war on DEC 8th
  • DEC 10th Germany and Italy declare war on US
    • Had signed tripartite treaty with Japan in 1940
      • Only instance of Hitler honoring an int’l agreement!
allied strategy germany first
Allied Strategy:“Germany First”
  • Allies (Britain and US) decide to fight a holding action in Pacific while winning the war in Europe
    • Set priorities for men and material
    • US really can’t ignore Japan
      • Homeland feels threatened
      • Territories conquered
      • They wanted revenge for being

“suddenly and deliberately


  • Britain had largely eliminated German Surface Navy which freed up the bulk of naval ship construction for the Pacific Fleet…Bismarck, Graf Spee, Tirpitz
battle of the atlantic
Battle of the Atlantic
  • German Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
    • Almost brings UK to her knees
    • Convoys
    • Escorts (air and naval)
    • Destroyer Escorts
    • Liberty Ships,
battle for the mediterranean
Battle for the Mediterranean
  • North Africa – Operation Torch US Amphibious Assault in Morocco. French navy resistance from Dakar, Senegal.
  • Malta – 3340 Air Raids
  • Sicily – Operation Husky
    • Patton &/vs Montgomery

vs. Germans

  • Italy - Anzio Landing
    • Operation Shingle
    • LST
landing ship tank lst
Landing Ship, Tank (LST)

Oftencalled the ship that won WWII

normandy operation overlord
NormandyOperation Overlord
  • Largest Armada ever assembled
    • 5000 ships
    • Delivered over 160,000 troops to Normandy beaches
the aftermath of pearl harbor
The Aftermath of Pearl Harbor
  • What is left?
    • 3 Carriers
    • Destroyers
    • Fuel Depot
japanese advance
Japanese Advance
  • Quickly eliminate British and French Naval Threat
  • Between January and June 1942 Japan overruns much of Southeast Asia, Philippines, South Pacific, Guam, Wake
coral sea 4 8 may 1942
Coral Sea4-8 May 1942
  • Japan plans for invasion of Port Moresby and Solomon Islands…eventually Australia?

Ends in relative draw, but…stops advance, sets stage for Midway

midway turning point of war the us navy s finest hour
MidwayTurning Point of War… The US Navy’s Finest Hour?
  • Japan’s plan to finish off US fleet and consolidate her expansion
  • Incredible numerical advantage for Japan
    • 7 Aircraft Carriers and 11 Battleships – Japan
    • 3 Aircraft Carriers - US
  • US loses one carrier and one destroyer.
  • Japan loses four carriers and two cruisers.
  • Japan cannot replace the loses in manpower and material and never again returns to the offense.
  • Better intelligence…knowledge superiority…key to victory.
us allies take the offensive
US/Allies take the offensive
  • Difference between building an empire and defeating an enemy?
  • Nimitz in charge of Naval and Marine Forces; MacArthur in charge of Army Forces
  • Dual pronged assault
    • MacArthur worksup the island chains toward the Philippines
    • Nimitz across central Pacific
guadalcanal august 1942 february 1943
GuadalcanalAugust 1942-February 1943
  • First major amphibious assault of the Pacific Campaign
  • Hundreds of ships and hundreds of thousands of troops
  • Carriers must leave after 72 hours
  • First step in securing

the Solomon Islands

new guinea 1943 1945
New Guinea1943 - 1945
  • Japanese threat to Australia and Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) needed to neutralized.
  • Huge army campaign supported by Naval Gunfire and Air.
  • MacArthur’s first step to “Returning”
philippines 1944 1945
  • Series of major land and sea engagements
tarawa november 1943
TarawaNovember 1943
  • First step across the Central Pacific
    • Huge naval force (17 carriers)
  • Horrific fighting – 3000 US casualties and 90% of the 3600 Japanese killed.
guam july august 1944
GuamJuly-August 1944
  • Final Push in the Marianas Campaign
  • Difficult assault over coral reefs ringing the island.
  • Over 18,000 of 22,000 defenders died.
  • US casualties 8000 (K/W) of 36,000
  • Became B-29 Staging Base
leyte gulf
Leyte Gulf
  • Largest naval battle ever
  • Eliminated Japanese Navy as an effective fighting force.
leyte gulf1
Leyte Gulf

Three Separate Japanese Attacks

Northern Group, Draw of Halsey and Aircraft Carrier

Southern Group attack through Surigao Strait and destroy landing craft

Central Group attack Naval Forces off Samar and join Southern Group

kamikaze divine wind
Kamikaze“Divine Wind”
  • Last desperate attempt to stem the allied advance
okinawa april june 1945
OkinawaApril – June 1945
  • The last gasp
  • Largest amphibious assault of the war
  • 1500 Kamikaze attacks sunk 20 ships and damaged 150 others.
  • Last Japanese naval attack – 7 of 10 ships (including YAMATO) sunk by Naval Air
  • To be a major staging area for Japanese Invasion
good resources
Good Resources
  • Books
    • The United States Navy
    • Last Stand of the Tin Cans
    • At Dawn We Slept
    • Midway, Incredible Victory
    • The Longest Day
    • Run Silent, Run Deep
    • The Cruel Sea
    • Helmet For My Pillow
    • With the Old Breed
  • Movies
    • Victory at Sea
    • Tora, Tora, Tora
    • Midway
    • Mr. Roberts
    • The Sands of Iwo Jima
  • Websites
    • The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb
    • Naval History Bibiliography