On December 6, 1922, the Secretary of the Navy's General Order No. 94 reorganized the United States Navy. The United States Fleet was created, made up of two principal fleet subdivisions, the Scouting Fleet based on the Atlantic Coast and the Battle Fleet based on the Pacific, supported by two minor forces. Of the eighteen battleships allowed by the Washington Conference, twelve were to form the heart of the Battle Fleet, with the remaining ships, the oldest and slowest at that, being assigned to the Scouting Fleet.1 If there was any question in the minds of Americans or Japanese about which ocean was the more important, this Pacific orientation given to the Navy removed all doubts. And if some pacifists felt squeamish about a "battle" fleet being in the Pacific, the Navy did not feel similarly uneasy, for it is more than probable that the name and location of the fleet was deliberate. This new focus of American naval power was certainly consistent with the views of the General Board.
Prior to 1919 the Navy had resisted attempts to split the fleet, largely owing to the urgings of Admiral Mahan and the executive actions of Theodore Roosevelt. The Russo-Japanese War had convinced Mahan that it was folly to divide a navy to the point where any division could be overwhelmed by enemy naval forces. Accordingly President Roosevelt, during the 1908‑9 war scare, withdrew the p72principal units from the Asiatic station and left only a cruiser squadron to face the Japanese fleet. On the eve of his retirement Roosevelt advised his successor, "Under no circumstances divide the battleship fleet between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans prior to the finishing of the Panama Canal. . . ." And on the same day Roosevelt assured Mahan, whose views were never modified, that the fleet would never be divided.2
But the completion of the Panama Canal in August, 1914, resulted ultimately in a changed view within American naval circles. Throughout the World War the Navy had remained in the Caribbean and Atlantic. But at war's end, with the danger from Germany removed and with the Japanese tension steadily developing, plans were made for the creation of a Pacific Fleet. In the eyes of many, the size of the American Navy made it possible to transfer half of the fleet to the Pacific, though others believed, equally strongly, that such a move was an invitation to disaster.3 It should be noted parenthetically that in January, 1917, the General Board had declared that the Navy should be twice the size of Japan's to operate successfully in the Far East, but this estimate would apply equally to any Japanese attempt to operate against the Pacific Fleet in American waters.4 The business was settled when the Pacific Fleet, under the command of Admiral p73Hugh L. Rodman, transited the Panama Canal in July and August, 1919, and proceeded northward to a series of reviews and demonstrations climaxed in a fleet review by President Wilson and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels at Seattle on September 13, 1919.
The creation of two major fleets did not result in total independence for either of them. Theoretically, both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets were to have similar organization from the staff of the fleet commanders down to the organization of departments within the smallest units of each fleet. This arrangement would permit easy transfer of individuals or ships and would allow integration of the two fleets when combined maneuvers were held. The principle of competition would also be employed to stimulate top performance within the individual fleets. The command of all units in a combined fleet would go to the commander-in‑chief of the Atlantic Fleet. However, the limited repair facilities on the Pacific Coast, especially for battleships, necessitated constant movement of ships back to the East Coast for annual major overhauls. Regardless of the international situation, the Pacific Coast was not physically equipped to maintain the fleet.5
Despite the problems involved in operating the Pacific Fleet on a station ill‑equipped to service its vessels, the Navy Department proposed in the spring of 1921 an even heavier concentration of naval power in the Pacific. The presence of the Pacific Fleet and the existence of numerous unsolved diplomatic problems stimulated Japanese shipbuilding, and this in turn affected American naval planning. The consequent naval race between America and Japan showed possibilities of erupting into war. Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby therefore asked Secretary of State Hughes for his opinion concerning a reorganization of the Navy and the stationing of a battle fleet in the Pacific which would comprise most of the Navy's battleships; the Pacific Fleet of 1919 had included only fourteen of the twenty-nine battleships then in commission.
p74 The present arrangement violated all modern doctrine, wrote Denby; persons with only the most rudimentary military background should realize the need for one fleet commander over the two subordinate units (the Pacific and Atlantic fleets). He continued: "In fact so contrary to accept practice does the present allocation of the vessels of our navy seem to be, that not we alone, but all the world must wonder at the policy which separates our major fighting ships in such a manner that in case of war with any first-rate power one‑half of our ships may at the first blow fall a victim to superior enemy attack." Some foreign observers probably suspected that "we dare not make up our minds which ocean to leave unguarded or that we fear to arouse the suspicion which might result from properly organizing our fleet with the majority of our battleships concentrated in one ocean." Denby realized that the Pacific Coast was not well equipped to service a battle fleet; but, he concluded:
It is time our keels become acquainted with the western ocean and our navy yards and bases on the west coast receive their crucial test. . . . We anticipate no enemy in either sea. None the less we must maintain the navy fit to fight and see well to it that from both coasts the navy can operate successfully and be adequately maintained.6
Within the State Department, and particularly in the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, there was considerable enthusiasm for Denby's project. Some felt, as did Under Secretary Henry F. Fletcher, that it might temporarily irritate the Japanese and the British, but in the long run the Powers would see the United States was merely "proceeding upon sound tactical and strategic lines, which needed no excuse or explanation." John Van Antwerp MacMurray, Chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, was even more sanguine. The creation of such a "Grand Fleet," he predicted, would show Japan that the United States had power available to curb any aggressive intentions. Furthermore, Great Britain would see that the United States was not menacing her in the Atlantic, and through such a display of firmness in the Pacific the British would be disabused of any predilection to aid Japan against America. Finally, it would strengthen American relations with China by proving the United States' determination not p75to give Japan a free rein in the Far East, despite the Lansing-Ishii agreement.7
After nearly a month Hughes wrote Denby that he was "not disposed to interpose any objection upon diplomatic grounds to a step apparently so much needed to promote our security." He did include, however, a letter from President Harding suggesting that implementation of the plans be held in abeyance until a more propitious time, apparently after an arms limitation conference; fleet reorganization could endanger the possibilities of Japan's participation in such a conference.8
In the summer of 1921 the Navy Department quietly — and without publicity — reorganized the fleet. Vice Admiral Hilary P. Jones, who had been Commander-in‑Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, was raised to the rank of admiral, and the Scouting Force of the Atlantic Fleet was given to Vice Admiral John D. McDonald. On the West Coast the Pacific Fleet became the Battle Fleet under the command of Admiral E. W. Eberle. Once the reorganization was publicly announced the following year, Admiral Jones merely changed his title to "Commander-in‑Chief United States Fleet," and McDonald became Commander-in‑Chief Scouting Fleet. During this period of change and fleeting‑up," Admiral Jones remained virtually hidden in the New York Navy Yard because he found it difficult to explain his four‑star flag.9
With the Battle Fleet based on the West Coast, the Navy in the years after 1922 turned its attention increasingly toward acquiring adequate fleet facilities. Between 1917 and 1923 four separate p76studies made of West Coast facilities agreed on the need for fleet bases, at least one of which should be in San Francisco Bay.10
The most important study, directed by Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman in the fall of 1922, concluded, "The Nation should not be allowed to rest secure in the belief that an adequate naval defense is had in vessels only, even though it consist of a well-rounded navy, but it should know that without adequate bases the fleet cannot live." The West Coast and Pacific area were woefully weak in base strength; primary consideration should be given to developing a base at Oahu capable of handling the whole Navy. Once a Hawaiian base was developed, then the pressing need was for a fleet-sized naval base in San Francisco Bay and an enlarged base in Puget Sound. The Rodman board also recommended some East Coast developments, but the heart of its fairly objective report concerned the Pacific.11 West Coast proponents of a San Francisco naval base were not so objective. Representative James A. MacLafferty of California raised the Japanese bogey at a Naval Affairs Committee hearing, declaring, "More people believe the day is coming when the great trouble of this world will be in the Pacific Ocean. Some of us believe that plans are under way and have been for many years to force, at an opportune time, the issue upon us."12 Lobbyists presented similar arguments, but Congress was interested in trimming expenditures, not creating more, and preferred p77to view anti-Japanese alarmists as self-seekers.
Naval operations and maneuvers after 1922 helped to emphasize the need for enlarged base facilities in the Pacific. The chiefs of naval operations repeatedly told the Congress that the fleet needed to exercise yearly as one unit, but the cost of oil and to some extent the wear on the ships caused congressmen to demur. The Navy was frank in admitting its wish to test the defenses and facilities of Hawaii;13 possibly this frankness caused congressmen to realize the cost of remedying any weaknesses. This was not an uncommon attitude toward naval affairs during the 1920's. But by the fall of 1926 the Navy was grateful for enough oil to maneuver the battle fleet and Scouting Fleet annually and for tacit approval by Congress for biennial United States (combined) Fleet maneuvers. Occasionally the question was broached concerning the propriety of continuing the division of the Navy between the two oceans, but the viewpoint of the Navy was consistent, as indicated in Admiral Charles F. Hughes's reply to an Alabama representative: "It would be desirable, from my personal point of view, that it all operate together; but even as nearly self-sustaining as the fleet may be, it must have shore bases. We have not the facilities on the Pacific to base them all. . . ."14
By 1929 the Navy was authorized to construct two dirigibles to explore the possible use of lighter-than‑air craft in fleet operations. Because of their gigantic size there was only one naval hangar available to them. The Congress therefore in March, 1929, authorized the Navy to search for another airship base site to supplement the Lakehurst, New Jersey, Naval Air Station. In April the General Board reported that any future airship base should be on the Pacific Coast and preferably in the Los Angeles‑San Diego area. A special board appointed with Rear Admiral William A. Moffett, Chief of the Bureau p78of Aeronautics, as chairman, reported almost unanimously in October, 1929, in favor of a site at the south end of San Francisco Bay near Sunnyvale, California.15
Location of the base site precipitated a bitter quarrel within the Navy, but it is most significant that the West Coast was selected. Congressional hearings developed, in the most guarded language, the desirability of a Pacific Coast site, because any future international problems were likely to arise in the West. The War Plans Division of the Navy, going even further than the General Board, suggested basing the two airships on the Hawaiian Islands where "Their usefulness will be principally in scouting areas of the sea where enemy fleets, or considerable detachments of enemy fleets, might be expected to appear. . . ."16 Ultimately the Sunnyvale site was chosen, and Naval Air Station Moffett Field stands today as a monument to Admiral Moffett's interest in airships and to the Navy's consciousness of the strategic importance of the Pacific Ocean.
With the exception of the base at Pearl Harbor, very little had been done by 1931 to enlarge the shore facilities of the Battle Fleet. The fleet itself had been strengthened through progressive modernization of its principal units and by the addition of new construction such as the aircraft carrier Saratoga and the Omaha cruisers, but its existence was almost hand-to‑mouth. Possibly the greatest enemy to base improvement was pork-barrel politics, increasingly evident once the nation was stricken with the depression in the fall of 1929. Though the Puget Sound Navy Yard direly needed to lengthen its drydock to accommodate the carriers Lexington and Saratoga, the money was redirected from the floor of the House to lengthen the drydock in p79Charleston, South Carolina. When the Navy attempted to economize, in order to spend the money more effectively in other areas, log‑rolling interfered. The words of Rear Admiral Thomas P. Magruder have a familiar ring to them even now.
Today there are seven navy-yards on the east coast of the United States. . . . There is not enough work to be done for the Navy to justify keeping all these yards in active operation. By disposing of superfluous yards and placing others on an inactive basis, the saving thus effected could be used to strengthen the naval base in the Hawaiian Islands. There is where our greatest navy-yard and naval base should be.17
The creation of a battle fleet for the Pacific Ocean and a continuing interest by the Navy in the development of West Coast and Hawaiian naval bases suggest that the Navy expected future trouble to originate west of Hawaii. Because of this viewpoint, the Navy gave a great deal of attention to its war plans during the 1920's. The Washington naval treaties scrapped not only more than 800,000 tons of American naval vessels built, building, or authorized, but also war plans which had been drafted in terms of the preconference Navy. Through cooperative efforts of the General Board, War Plans Division, and the Naval War College, the Navy's plans were gradually reconstructed, but progress was slow.
Like any efficient organization of the business-conscious 1920's, the Navy wanted to complete its war plans as rapidly as possible; it was therefore fortunate in having Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., as assistant secretary of the Navy from 1921 to 1924. In a manner reminiscent of his father's tenure in the same position, Roosevelt enjoyed his job thoroughly. Appearances before the Senate and House Naval Affairs committees were generally marked by the Colonel's holding the center of the stage, answering questions briskly, and interrupting testimony of his bureau chiefs upon the slightest provocation. He pushed war planning heavy-handedly, and there is considerable evidence p80that the year 1926 became the target date for completion of all detailed plans.18
On June 13, 1922, the Assistant Secretary ordered the General Board of the Navy to study the grand strategy of the Pacific under peacetime and wartime conditions and to report what it considered would be the necessary organization to support its strategical analyses.19 After almost a year of intensive study, hearings, and consultations with the War Plans Division and the Naval War College, the General Board reported. In the first section of its study, labeled "General Considerations," it oriented the report by commenting: "So far as can now be foreseen, any great war in the Pacific involving the United States will be with Japan." In the broadest terms (the War Plans Division would fill in the detail) the board sketched the necessary military activity to force a war with Japan to a successful conclusion: hold or retake Manila Bay, control or occupy all navigable harbors in the Philippines and the Japanese Mandated Islands, militarily and commercially blockade Japan, and pursue any other action [such as engaging the Japanese fleet or bombing Japan] that might cause Japan to sue for peace. As a peacetime strategy in preparation to meet the demands of such a wartime strategy the General Board recommended that the United States
Maintain 5‑3 ratio with Japan in all classes of fighting ships and personnel.
Extend base facilities near Honolulu.
Build all vessels and ships to operate trans-Pacifically.
Take every legitimate measure to build up Guam and Manila so that they could hold out until reinforcements would arrive.
reinforcement of Manila Bay,
recapture of Manila Bay,
occupation or control of all naval positions in the Mandates and Philippines,
close military and commercial blockade of Japan.
Shape Peace Strategy towards immediate naval action in the western Pacific on the outbreak of war.
Provide mobile upkeep, docking and repair equipment for distant operations.
Keep an expeditionary force in readiness.
Foster good relations with possible benevolent neutrals such as Holland, Russia, or China.20
Fundamentally the General Board created its Orange War Plans on the premise of fighting Japan in the Far East. A great many people agreed with Commander [later Fleet Admiral] Chester W. Nimitz' view that American Far Eastern policy was hampering Japan, and therefore war "was certain to come the moment she found herself strong enough to stop by force our continual obstruction to her policies."21 It was generally felt that the opening of war by Japan with the United States would be a surprise attack upon the Asiatic Fleet and an investing of the Philippines and Guam. Once the islands were taken and their limited objective attained, the Japanese could dig in and await what would necessarily be an unlimited war the United States to recover her position. There would be no need for any Japanese action east of Guam, and the United States would be forced to operate from Hawaii, which is •5,000 miles east of the Philippines.
With a fleet twice the size of Japan's and with the Philippines and Guam strongly defended, the General Board had felt before the Washington Conference that the war could be reasonably won.22 After the conference the board, in one brief statement, pessimistically summed up the future of American naval power in the Pacific:
p82 The General Board desires to record here its opinion that the naval situation of the United States in the Pacific, both as to ships and as to bases, resulting from the Treaty for the Limitation of Naval Armament agreed to by the Conference on Limitation of Armament will be such as greatly to lessen the power of the United States to prepare to defend its interests or unaided to enforce its policies in the western Pacific. . . .23
Once established in the Philippines, Guam, and in their own mandated islands, the Japanese would be in excellent position to harass an American advance into the Far East. American trade in the Orient could be driven from the seas, and any fleet sent to relieve the Philippines would be subject to constant submarine and air attack west of Hawaii. A resultant stalemate was considered likely until the American industrial potential would begin to build a navy of sufficient size. Some observers also felt that the American people would force the Navy to undertake early, and necessarily unwise, operations to relieve the situation and thus compound the problem.24
In operating against the Japanese in the Far East the Navy expected to be on the offensive, and the Japanese, once they had p83consolidated their gains, would be the defenders. By cleaving to this belief the Navy leaned heavily upon the teachings of Admiral Mahan, who rather dogmatically wrote that "War, once declared, must be waged offensively, aggressively. The enemy must not be fended off, but smitten down. . . ."25 Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., put it more colorfully when he said to the House Naval Affairs Committee, "One way of defending yourself is to hit the other fellow on the point of the jaw and knock him out." In less pugilistic tones Secretary of the Navy Curtis D. Wilbur testified before another committee: "The mission of a Navy in war is to defeat an enemy as near to its own home as possible. Only by this operation can our commerce be protected and the country defended in the fullest sense of the word."26
To carry the offensive to the Japanese in the Far East eventually required the War Plans Division to think in terms of island-seizing campaigns and forced a re‑evaluation of the use of naval air power. Before the Washington Conference the General Board had realized that the "annexation [of the former German islands in the Pacific] by Japan would be an important move toward her naval domination of the Pacific."27 After the conference Major General John A. Lejeune, Commandant of the Marine Corps, told the Naval War College of the magnificent role the Marines would play in any future Pacific war. In describing the role he commented: "The seizure and occupation or destruction of enemy bases is another important function of the expeditionary force of the Marine Corps. On both flanks of a fleet crossing the Pacific are numerous islands suitable for utilization by an enemy for radio stations, aviation, submarine, or destroyer bases. . . ."28
p84 To be ready for any eventuality the Marine Corps by 1922 had created a West Coast expeditionary force and was in the process of building a base capable of handling an even larger number of troops. In its 1926 revision of the Orange Plan, the War Plans Division predicted the use of the expeditionary force to seize naval bases west of Hawaii. The Philippines would be relieved, but it would take time.29
In facing the problem of operating west of Hawaii against the Japanese from poorly developed naval bases, many men in the Navy turned with hope to naval aviation. The almost primitive level of carrier aviation development, in contrast to long years of battleship experience, made it difficult for the salesmen of air power to vend their wares.30 But years of patient spadework by Rear Admiral William A. Moffett began to pay dividends by 1930, and in the following decade carrier-borne striking forces were recognized as units meriting further study and development. What the Navy learned in the 1920's was that naval aviation could be effective in protecting a fleet against land-based aircraft, and that carriers could take advantage of the principle of "concentration of force" by bringing superior numbers of planes to bear against shore installations when surprise was a factor. This latter value was proven most effectively in the fleet maneuvers of 1929 when Saratoga's squadrons successfully attacked the Panama Canal. For the War College and the War Plans Division the aviation developments provided an answer to the problem of defending the Philippines or of attacking them were it necessary to take steps for p85their recovery. As a result, planning through the years found land-based bombers and carrier-borne aircraft assuming heavier roles in the protection of our Asiatic interest.31
The Navy felt hamstrung because of the Five-Power Treaty limitations on further naval base developments, and it therefore tried every possible means to increase fleet operating efficiency in the Far East. Improvement of the Pearl Harbor Naval Base was high on the list at all times, but this yard was •5,000 miles from the scene of expected naval operations. Guam could not be measurably developed, but there was some hope of making the Philippines, particularly Manila Bay, a better naval base within the limits of the Naval Treaty. Governor-General Leonard Wood suggested to the War Department that the Standard Oil Company be persuaded to build storage tanks in Manila rather than at Hong Kong, and that the drydock Dewey, then at Olongapo Navy Yard, be transferred to Manila. In these two projects Wood had the complete support of the Commander-in‑Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, Admiral Joseph Strauss. To assist his plan further, the Governor-General assigned his naval aide to sit in with the City of Manila Port Authority Board in order to guide its deliberations on improvements along lines beneficial to commercial and especially naval interests.32
In his recommendations concerning the Dewey General Wood touched upon a subject increasingly important to the War Plans Division. The division recognized the unavailability of adequate docking west of Honolulu and therefore made plans to construct two mobile floating drydocks capable of accompanying the Battle Fleet, were it to move to the Far East. The department was unable to get funds for p86new floating drydocks, but Congress in February, 1925, finally allowed the Navy $400,000 to move the Dewey to Cavite, in Manila Bay, and thus made it possible for the Navy to dock its cruisers and smaller vessels on the Asiatic station.33 Though nothing came of the Navy's efforts in the 1920's to get mobile drydocks for its Battle Fleet, it is interesting that during World War II mobile floating drydocks and new developments in antifouling bottom paints made it possible to keep our ships in tropical waters long beyond the times normally expected in earlier years.
The plans for projecting a fleet into Far Eastern waters to uphold the national policies of the United States would have been fairly simple for the War Plans Division had the Japanese not possessed their mid‑Pacific mandated islands. However, they did possess them, and war planning had to take them under consideration constantly. Under the terms of the mandate agreement with the League of Nations the Japanese could not fortify or otherwise enhance the military value of the former German islands, but they were able to treat them as integral Japanese territory. The ports in the islands could be visited only with permission of the Japanese foreign office, whose policies in this matter were controlled completely by the naval ministry.34 For the United States Navy the right of visit to all of the Japanese islands became a primary goal. Quite understandably the Navy wanted complete assurance that the islands were unfortified and not developed navally. Air bases or submarine facilities in the islands could make the p87passage from Pearl Harbor to Manila virtually impossible except by the most circuitous routes.
American naval vessels visited a few open ports in the Japanese islands during the decade after the Washington Conference, but on the whole such visiting was discouraged by the Japanese. Unannounced visits such as that of the cruiser Milwaukee to Truk in September, 1923, caused diplomatic repercussions, though the port was open for visiting if proper notification were given. Flights by Marine aviators over Rota, to the north of Guam, brought vigorous protests from the Japanese foreign office and caused Admiral Coontz, Chief of Naval Operations, to order the Governor of Guam to control the flights more carefully: ". . . every care should be exercised in the selection of carrier pigeons so that as far as possible they will return to Guam instead of leading on the Island of Rota," he concluded slyly. In 1929 the Navy Department on two occasions attempted to have vessels visit closed ports in the Mandates, and on both occasions were rebuffed by the Japanese; an invitation to visit such open ports as Saipan, Angaur, Truk, or Jaluit was substituted.35
By the summer of 1929 the Navy's patience had grown thin — or its curiosity unbearable — so it asked the State Department to force the issue with the Japanese.36 The department's solicitor had made a careful study of the issue and decided the United States could claim nothing better than most-favored-nation treatment; if the Mandates were closed to all other Powers, the United States could expect nothing. The Navy rather reluctantly accepted the State Department's interpretations, but did concede the unwisdom of making an international p88issue of the matter, for the Japanese might thus be forced to take a public stand from which they could not later recede. It was agreed between the Navy and State departments that informal efforts should be made to change the views of the Japanese by working through the embassy staff and its naval attaché in Tokyo. At the end of 1929 the Navy was no better informed than before on the Japanese mandated islands; but there was a basic agreement that the Japanese should get no further concessions at the forthcoming London Conference in the matter of extending the nonfortification agreements.37
As for exchanging visits to areas held in statu quo under Article XIX of the Five-Power Treaty, the State and Navy departments came to reverse their earlier viewpoints. In January of 1923 Secretary of State Hughes had initiated an exchange of visits whereby a Japanese officer visited Guam and the American naval attaché at Tokyo visited the Japanese base at Bako in the Pescadores Islands. In a letter to the Secretary of the Navy and one to the Secretary of War, Hughes suggested that the British be allowed similarly to visit Guam, and that other closed areas coming under Article XIX be opened to mutual inspection. He justified this promise by stating, "It seems desirable to this Department from the viewpoint of assuring a mutual confidence among the countries participating in the Naval Treaty of February 6, 1922." Secretary of the Navy Denby was hostile to the proposition and at first stated his objections in vague generalizations: "I think that there should be no question of the good faith of the signatory powers and that, in consequence, visits of inspection either to ships or to stations to verify the execution of the terms of a treaty are undesirable and may be provocative of friction." More to the point, Denby added that the United States had more to lose by inspection than Japan did. The proximity of the Philippines to Japan, and conversely, their distance from the United States, made it possible, in the event of war, for the installations at Corregidor to be overwhelmed long before they could be altered, strengthened, or modernized. On the other hand the Japanese could completely renovate any of their bases before the United States could bring military pressure to bear. In summation p89Denby recommended: no exchange of visits to fortifications; any visits to closed areas to be officially arranged; no written exchanges of information, "but rather that reliance be placed on the good faith of the powers concerned."
From the War Department Hughes received a response that showed that both letters must have been written after a meeting of the Joint Board, or at least after consultation between Denby and Secretary of War John W. Weeks. The War Department agreed with Hughes in principle, but feared the United States would gain nothing from inspections and would lose the slight potential advantage it had in the Philippines.38 Reflecting a viewpoint common in the State Department, the chief of the Division of Far Eastern Affairs, John Van Antwerp MacMurray, wrote a bitter memorandum for Hughes: ". . . we will each of us cherish our own military and naval secrets and our suspicions as to the secrets of the other parties to the treaty. . . ."39 Within the purview of the military departments of the United States this was an entirely reasonable attitude if the basic assumption was eventual war with Japan.
When one examines the work of the War Plans Division and the General Board in their preparation of the "Orange Plan," the defense of the Philippines stands out as of paramount interest. The whole concept of the ratio system embodied in the Five-Power Naval Treaty was predicated upon defending the Philippines, for if defense of the continental United States had been the only task of the American Navy, p90then it would have been possible to allow Japan naval equality. As matters stood, the inability of Japan to attack the Pacific Coast except on what would amount to a suicide mission, was conceded; the only other problem was whether a tonnage of 60 per cent of American capital ship strength would leave Japan in a position to menace the Philippines. Upon these puts to sea there was virtual unanimity in the Navy after 1922: Japan could attack, and the Philippines would be extremely difficult to defend.40
It was widely believed in the American Navy of the 1920's that Japan was interested in acquiring the Philippines; therefore the Navy Department insisted on continuing American possession. If the islands were granted independence, the United States would be likely to lose its naval bases in Manila Bay and be forced to operate from Pearl Harbor, a logistic impossibility for that day. Were the Navy thrown back to the Hawaiian Islands, then there would be little likelihood of preventing Japanese aggression against a new Philippine nation. If Japan succeeded in overrunning the islands, there would be even less possibility of the Navy defending the Asiatic trade of the United States.41
This solicitude for American Far Eastern trade, characteristic of the Navy during the 1920's, was reflected in the official United States p91Naval Policy. In terms of trade and commerce the Navy viewed its job as "exercising ocean-wide economic pressure," and supporting "in every possible way American interests, especially the expansion and development of American foreign commerce."42 In language reminiscent of turn‑of-the‑century imperialists, naval officers spoke glowingly of "the undeveloped treasure-house of Asia [which] bids fair to make the Far East a future of great commercial activity." They deprecated talk of abandoning the Open Door policy, for "there [China] is a country of 400,000,000 , the markets of which are opened to the world . . . as manufacturing increases as a means of supporting our people, we must go farther and farther afield to obtain markets for our goods. China, as a field for commercial enterprise is of great importance to this country, and this importance will continue to grow." The Five-Power Naval Treaty with its nonfortification clause visited irreparable damage upon the United States, because "a country's foreign trade must have the backing of its navy on the spot. A merchant ship arbitrarily detained by the order of some power in the Far East needs help in the Far East."43 These were arguments couched in terms easily understood by the business-conscious Republican administrators. Yet there were movements afoot further to limit, not increase, the world's navies, and there was a strong sentiment, in Congress and throughout the nation (though resisted by the executive branches of these administrations) for cutting the Philippines adrift — to deny the Navy its base in the Far East.
When faced with the likelihood that the Philippines would be granted independence, the Navy Department worked assiduously to assure continued United States lease or ownership of some naval facilities in the islands. General Leonard Wood, Governor-General of the Philippines, felt the United States could get naval and military p92bases from an independent Philippines upon request; five years later he was seconded in this view by Henry L. Stimson, who had succeeded him as governor.44 Within the Navy Department the General Board went on record in March, 1924, when it stated, "In case independence is granted, the United States must retain a naval station in the Philippines." Were only partial independence granted or the United States agreed to some protectorate condition over the islands, then the Navy and the Joint Board believed the nation must maintain fortified naval bases in the Philippines.45
With Congress talking more seriously of Philippine independence in the spring of 1930, and with the London Naval Treaty before the Senate, the Navy still insisted upon the necessity of bases in the islands. Rear Admiral Mark L. Bristol, then senior member of the General Board, told a Senate committee, "If we gave the Philippines their freedom I am certain that if we wanted to protect our interests in the Far East — that is, I mean in every way, not necessarily in connection with war, but at all times — we would want to maintain a naval base in the Philippines. . . ." He felt this would be particularly true from a moral viewpoint were the Filipinos unable to defend themselves, for they would undoubtedly then turn to the United States. In this view he was supported by men like Rear Admiral H. P. Jones, who had helped to draft the naval treaty, and by Rear Admiral S. S. Robison, Superintendent of the Naval Academy.46 However, the Navy did not speak with complete unanimity in this matter; the Joint Board in this very spring opposed the retention of any military or naval forces in the Philippines if complete independence were given. The Joint Board did agree that were a period of semi-independence initiated, similar p93to a commonwealth status, then the Navy should remain in the Philippines at full strength.47
During 1930 and 1931 Congress studied further the question of Philippine independence; with the pressure of the depression, plus a resurgence of Democratic power in the House and Senate, it appeared in the fall of 1931 that Congress would set the islands adrift. During the summer of 1931 a team of legislators headed by independence-minded Senator Harry B. Hawes reinforced its preconceptions by visiting the islands. The Congressional junket was followed by a small party led by Secretary of War Patrick J. Hurley, who was making his own tour to find evidence against independence. Needless to say, Hawes and Hurley found just what they wanted. The "spontaneous" demonstrations wherever the Hawes party traveled were clear evidence to the legislators that the Filipinos wished to be free. In contrast, the confidential, off-the‑record chats with Philippine politicos and businessmen convinced the Secretary of War that the Filipinos neither expected nor desired independence, but that it was imperative for a politically ambitious Filipino to be pro‑independence.48
Upon leaving the islands, Hurley cabled the War Department and ordered a study of the strategic value of the Philippines. He wanted the War Department, Navy Department, and the Joint Board to decide whether the islands were a military and naval liability or asset. He asked that the State Department look at the Philippines from the diplomatic point of view — asset or liability? Hurley expected the answers to be available when he met with President Hoover to report the findings from his excursion to the Far East.49 Presumably the answers to the Secretary of War's questions, plus his personal observations, would guide the President's actions were Congress to present him with a Philippine independence measure.
p94 The replies of the War and Navy departments were incorporated, deliberately, into a single study by the Joint Board. In justifying this approach, the Board reported:
All military operations in the Western Pacific must be per se joint Army and Navy operations, and, hence it is only from this standpoint that the war time value of the Philippines should be considered. A detached study of whether the Philippines are an asset to the Army alone or to the Navy alone serves no useful purpose. Neither service is capable of operating in this region independently of the other.
In the course of its lengthy reply the Joint Board left no doubt of its feeling when it posited: "The Philippine Islands are a military asset to the United States." "The Philippine Islands are a distinct naval asset to the United States." "The Philippine Islands are a positive asset to the United States from the standpoint of combined military and naval operations and strategy."50
Despite Hurley's relatively narrow precept, the Joint Board extended its investigations beyond strategical matters and directly into the field of foreign affairs. The board drew together the loose ends of American Far Eastern policy and restated what it believed were the foundations of that policy. In a section that could have been written by Mahan or by the late General Wood, the Joint Board securely tied the Philippines to America's economic future in Asia. "The Philippines constitute a potential commercial center upon which depend, to a large extent, the development and success of future American trade relations with the Asiatic continent and Australasia. . . . Far‑seeing statesmen, edicts and writers are agreed that there lie the future markets of the world." The board went further and opposed Philippine independence in terms of American national self-interest. "By withdrawal of sovereignty from the Philippines, we give up the opportunity to make them a commercial asset, and we surrender the potentialities of the Philippines as an entrepôt to the markets of the adjacent islands and the Asian mainland including the security afforded our commerce and investments in that part of the world by the presence there of our armed forces." Finally the Joint Board declared that "The United States has always supported the policy of the territorial integrity of China and the principle of equal p95trade opportunity for all countries as embodied in the Open Door Policy." Withdrawal from the Philippines would lessen American ability to support its Far Eastern policy.51
From the arguments of the admirals, the General Board, and Joint Board, it becomes obvious that American interest in retaining a Philippine naval base did not emphasize the importance of defending the Philippines as much as it did of keeping a fleet in Far Eastern waters. These groups appeared most interested in defending American trade and interests in the Far East, and felt a fleet in the area would do the job more effectively. It cannot be denied that a fleet in the Far East and a base that could service a larger naval concentration under emergency conditions might have had a deterrent effect on Japanese ambitions in eastern Asia.
In its exhortation to continue American sovereignty over the Philippines, and with it the Cavite naval base, the Navy Department seldom stated publicly that the Philippines were defensible. In the years before the Washington Naval Conference of 1921‑22 the accepted view of the War and Navy departments was that Hawaii would first have to be built into a major naval base; then Guam would have to be strongly fortified and developed; then it would be reasonable to expect to defend the Philippines. And the United States Navy would have to be twice the size of Japan's if that country were the aggressor. These qualifications were not met, and by 1908 the United States had withdrawn its main line of defense to Hawaii.52
During 1920, when the momentum of war contracts and construction under the 1916 naval bill expanded the naval establishment, the General Board optimistically declared the Philippines defensible, though Guam was undeveloped. It qualified this viewpoint by adding that defense was possible "As long as the present comparative strength of the Navies of the United States and Japan are maintained and p96Manila Bay remains in our possession. . . ." The Joint Board, War Plans Division, and Naval War College dissented; Philippine defenses were not modern, and 173 marines without modern artillery could hardly make Guam impregnable.53 The Washington Five-Power Naval Treaty relegated all these propositions to an academic status when it limited the Navy to 40 per cent superiority over Japan and forbade any further development of Guam or modernizing of Philippine defenses.
Aviation became a most important weapon for western Pacific defenses as the impact of the treaty was felt in naval planning circles. Under the leadership of Rear Admiral W. S. Sims and later of Rear Admiral Harris Laning, the Naval War College devoted an increasing amount of time to studying the application of aviation to naval warfare. By the fall of 1923 Admiral Laning was cautiously admitting that land-based planes could be of great assistance in defending the Philippines, and that carrier-borne aircraft, owing to the mobility of their base, could probably aid in recovering the Philippines by giving temporary air superiority in areas where recovery attempts would begin.54 In 1924 the Navy Department moved the patrol bombing squadrons and equipment ashore from their mobile seaplane tenders and steadily built up naval land-based aircraft strength in the islands. When the British announced their intention to build a new air base on Hong Kong, the Navy Department offered no comment, though it privately admitted to State Department officials that the base would violate the spirit of the Five-Power Treaty. The solicitor of the State Department merely commented, "We might desire to take similar action p97in the Philippines and it might, therefore, be useful to have this precedent."55
Between 1927 and 1930 naval strategists went all the way in planning an aerial defense for the Philippines. The Lampert Committee hearings of 1925, which dealt with the operations of Navy and Army aviation, had been educative to the Navy Department. The zealous followers of the Army's Colonel "Billy" Mitchell convinced many naval officers that land-based aviation alone could never defend the Philippine Islands. This would be so, not because aviation would be ineffective, but because the nation would never purchase sufficient aircraft for such work and place them in the islands. Thus the General Board in the spring of 1927 could insist that the Navy needed more planes and aircraft carriers. These would be used to establish local control of the air once the United States Fleet arrived in the Far East to defend the Philippines or to recover them had the Japanese already seized the islands.56 By 1930 the position of the General Board was summed up in a memorandum written for the guidance of the London Naval Conference delegation: ". . . existing United States naval strength is insufficient if military force is ever to be employed in the defense of the Philippines or the Open Door. Recognizing this, present naval policy contemplates the use of 'overwhelming air strength' in serious operations in the Asiatic."57 Quite obviously treaties, technology, and geography had forced a re‑evaluation of the traditional methods of defending American Far Eastern interests, and air power and the aircraft carrier became accepted weapons in the naval arsenal.
Though the Navy was admittedly unable to defend the Philippines adequately after the Washington Conference, the resulting treaty system provided greater security for those islands than was originally p98anticipated. The Four-Power Treaty of December, 1921, effectively stabilized the western Pacific, and the Five-Power Treaty reduced the possibilities of naval armaments upsetting the stability accomplished. Japan was left in a position to dominate the western Pacific, but facing Japan were the United States in the Philippines, the Netherlands in the East Indies, Great Britain at Hong Kong and the Malay Peninsula, and the British Dominions of Australia and New Zealand. Cooperation among these Powers would have posed a formidable block to Japanese expansion toward the south and southwest, and the key to this cooperation was the British naval base at Singapore.
In June, 1921, after several years of agitation for action, the British began their first work on what was to become the great Singapore naval base. As a strategic necessity the project had been blessed by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Jellicoe in 1919, and from that time there had been a steadily mounting pressure from Australia and New Zealand for a great naval base in the Far East, though not necessarily at Singapore. Once begun, the work was halted twice — for six months in 1924 and temporarily in 1929 when the Labor Party under Ramsay MacDonald controlled the British government — but these interruptions were merely delays, and the base was slowly pushed ahead throughout the 1920's.58 Ostensibly the base was to protect British interests in the Far East, but against whom was never clearly defined. The presumption throughout eastern Asia that the base was a backfire against Japanese expansionism was officially denied both in Britain and, interestingly enough, in Japan.59
p99 The strategic effect of erecting a great naval bastion at Singapore was not lost on the Dutch. As a naval Power the Netherlands was decidedly second-class, but as a colonial Power it held one of the richest possessions in the world — the Netherlands East Indies. To protect those islands adequately would have required a first‑class navy, and much to the disgust of many Hollanders resident in the islands, the mother country was not interested in providing it.60 The result was a developing dependence upon Great Britain — without benefit of treaty — to act as a guardian for the Dutch islands, and a granting of economic concessions, particularly in oil field development, to the English as a payment for their protection. The situation at hand was perilous to British interests, particularly if the Japanese were to obtain lodgment in the Indies, and therefore a community of interests was strong enough to make treaties unnecessary.61 After Nicholas Roosevelt, a p100special correspondent on Asiatic affairs for the New York Times, visited southeast Asia in 1925 and 1926, he wrote,
Until I saw those Dutch-owned islands so close to Singapore I had not grasped how inevitable it would be that if the Japanese decide to take the Dutch East Indies, they would have to occupy Singapore, and if they wanted Singapore they would have to take the Indies. . . . In the Far East the Dutch and British are indissolubly linked together. . . .62
American interest in the British base at Singapore was also fairly strong. Roosevelt noted that the inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago recognized the lack of protection afforded by the American Navy and therefore looked "with just as friendly eye on the Singapore base as [did] the Dutch because they too, [cared] only about the preservation of the status quo in the Pacific. They realized that the provisions of the Washington Conference forbidding the strengthening of the existing island defenses, taken in connection with the distance of the island from Hawaii, [made] difficult their defense by the American navy alone."63 The General Board similarly recognized this weakness; in planning a "peace strategy" for the Pacific the board declared that the Navy should "foster such good relationships with other powers in the Far Eastern area, particularly with Holland, China and regenerated Russia, that in the event of war [with Japan] the United States may be assured at least of a benevolent neutrality on their part."64 By 1927, in view of the Washington treaties and their p101effect on Philippine defenses, the General Board recommended resisting any attempts by Japan at the Geneva Naval Conference to bring Singapore under the nonfortification clause (Article XIX) of the Five-Power Naval Treaty of 1922. The result of these viewpoints was the gradual development over the years of a mutual concern between the British Pacific dominions and colonies, on the one hand, and the United States on the other, for matters of naval defense. It was nothing formal, but the interest was there and was recognized from time to time by other nations.65
Between the United States Navy and the Dutch in their East Indies there was an even closer linking of defense interests. To naval officers familiar with the Far East it was evident that the Dutch held their Indies only on the sufferance of Great Britain or Japan, and Japan appeared to them to be the nation most likely to trouble the Hollanders. The Asiatic Fleet Commander noted in 1923 that the more progressive elements in the Indies wanted to invite American capital on a par with the British so that there would be two parties interested in preserving the independence of the islands were the Japanese to apply pressure. Significantly enough Admiral E. A. Anderson felt this arrangement would be advantageous to the United p102States as well as to the Indies.66 Throughout the 1920's American consuls in the Indies reported the pessimism of the Dutch concerning the intentions of Japan, and this pessimism was reflected from The Hague as well.67 By 1925 Admiral Thomas Washington was reporting from the Asiatic station that a recent visit to the Indies "helped to cement the excellent relations existing between the two countries, and the Dutch Government . . . regards such visits as a material factor in off‑setting the very great concern it feels because of the growing interest by Japan in their [Dutch] possessions."68
What became established in the 1920's was a definite community of interests in the Far East among the United States, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. All nations were concerned about possible Japanese pressure on their possessions, and the British and Dutch were particularly worried lest the United States open the road southward for Japan by freeing the Philippines. The Japanese, once in the Philippines, would soon engulf all of Southeast Asia including Australia and New Zealand. Hence, American naval officers felt, the Dutch and British bases would be available to them in the event of a Japanese-American war — a partial solution to Article XIX of the Five-Power Naval Treaty. It is in this light that one can explain, in part, the inconsistency of American naval insistence upon keeping the Philippines, or bases therein, though the possibility of defending those islands was rather remote.
The 1920's represented a period of organizing and planning for a future war which the General Board predicted would be fought in the Pacific Ocean against the Japanese. Within this decade the American Navy concentrated its most powerful units in the Pacific and forced the nation and Congress to give consideration to supplying p103proper naval bases for handling the fleet. With the Washington treaties as a limiting framework, the War Plans Division, General Board, and War College rebuilt the "Orange Plan" and reconsidered America's Pacific Ocean strategy. Though somewhat weakened by the Washington agreements, the department did not ask for, or suggest, the abandonment of traditional American Far Eastern interests, but rather turned to other means of defending them. The gradual development of carrier aviation through the decade gave the Navy by 1930 a weapon that would materially aid in protecting the Philippines or in operating to recover them if the need arose. Though at first given little consideration by the General Board, carrier air power was to some extent a last hope by 1930. Even more significant for the protection of American Far Eastern interests was the gradual and subtle alignment of American, British, and Dutch naval policies in Southeast Asia. Through a developing community of interests, particularly in the face of an ever-pressing Japan, the United States found potential relief from the staggering burden of defending what the Washington Conference had made indefensible. Dependence upon the Four-Power and Nine-Power treaties to guarantee the Philippines and the Open Door was not a satisfactory solution for a "man-of‑war's man," and the possibility of operating in the western Pacific, in the company of friends, made the Navy even more conscious of the need to round out its fleet and acquire the vessels needed for trans-Pacific operations.
1 U. S., Congress, House, Naval Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on Navy Department Appropriation Bill for 1925, 68th Cong., 1st Sess., 1924, H. R. 6820, p82.
2 Roosevelt to William H. Taft, Washington, March 3, 1909; Roosevelt to A. T. Mahan, Washington, March 3, 1909; Elting E. Morison (ed.), The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951‑1954), VI, 1543. In 1906 Mahan had written: "But among the most important lessons of this war [Russo-Japanese] — perhaps the most important, as also one easily understood and which exemplifies a principle of warfare of ageless application — is the inexpediency, the terrible danger, of dividing the battle fleet, even in times of peace, into fractions individually smaller than those of a possible enemy." A. T. Mahan, "Retrospect upon the War between Russia and Japan, 1906," in Naval Administration and Warfare (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1908), p167.
3 Hector C. Bywater, Sea‑Power in the Pacific: A Study of the American-Japanese Problem (2d ed.; Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1934), pp244‑45; Willis E. Snowbarger, "The Development of Pearl Harbor" (unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, University of California, 1950), pp165‑67.
4 U. S., Navy Department, General Board No. 425‑3, Serial 614, dated January 15, 1917, Office of the Chief of Naval History. Hereafter, papers in the Office of the Chief of Naval History will be cited as OCNH.
5 Army and Navy Journal, July 19, 1919, pp1599‑1600; Harold and Margaret Sprout, Toward a New Order of Sea Power: American Naval Policy and the World Scene (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1943), pp100‑1; George T. Davis, A Navy Second to None: The Development of American Naval Policy (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company, Inc., 1940), pp250‑51.
6 Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of State, Washington, April 15, 1921, U. S., Department of State, File 811.30/133, Archives.
7 Memoranda by Henry P. Fletcher and J. V. A. MacMurray, April 21, 1921, D/S, Files 811.30/130, 131, Archives.
8 The President to the Secretary of State, Washington, April 27, 1921, D/S, File 811/30/132; the Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Navy, Washington, May 31, 1921, File 811.30/129, Archives.
9 "Fleeting‑up" was a Navy term current for the 1920's meaning a temporary rise in rank for the period that an admiral commanded a fleet or major subdivision thereof. When a tour of duty in a fleet command ended, the admiral "hauled down his flag" and reverted to his two‑star rank of rear admiral. Admiral Jones to Admiral E. W. Eberle, New York, August 4, 1921, Hilary P. Jones Papers, Box 1, LCMD.
10 U. S., Congress, House, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on Sundry Legislation, 1922‑23, 67th Cong., 2d, 3d, 4th Sess., January 30, 1923, pp1965‑66; Earl S. Pomeroy, Pacific Outpost: American Strategy in Guam and Micronesia (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1951), p60.
11 "Report of the Special Board on Shore Establishments, January 12, 1923," in House, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on Sundry Legislation, 1922‑23, pp1577‑96. In June, 1922, the Army planned to abandon or reduce its defenses of many naval bases, and the Navy listed its most important bases requiring Army defense in this order: Panama, Hawaii, Manila, and Narragansett Bay. On July 7, 1923, the Joint Board accepted the Navy's priority list for areas most important to it: 1. Hawaiian Islands, 2. Guam (maintenance only), 3. Manila Bay, 4. San Francisco Bay, 5. Puget Sound, 6. New York-Narragansett Bay region. Both lists may be found in: Joint Board to Secretary of War, Washington, October 11, 1923, J. B. 304 (Serial 218), RG 94, Adjutant General File 660.2 (10‑11‑23), Archives.
12 U. S., Congress, House, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on Sundry Legislation, 1922‑23, January 26, 1923, p1945.
13 U. S., Congress, House, Naval Subcommittee of Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on Navy Department Appropriation Bill for 1925, 68th Cong., 1st Sess., December 20, 1923, pp79‑80, 92‑93. For an insight into the problems involved in fuel costs see U. S., Congress, House, Naval Subcommittee of Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on Navy Department Appropriation Bill for 1928, 69th Cong., 1st Sess., December 4, 1926, H. R. 15641, pp336‑49.
14 U. S., Congress, House, Naval Subcommittee of Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on Navy Department Appropriation Bill for 1929, 70th Cong., 1st Sess., February 16, 1928, H. R. 12286, p144.
15 General Board No. 449, Serial 1418, April 25, 1929, in U. S., Congress, House, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on Sundry Legislation, 1929‑30, 71st Cong., 2d Sess., 1930, pp2552‑53; Report on Airship Base Site Board, October 31, 1929, ibid., pp2533‑43. See also Archibald D. Turnbull and Clifford L. Lord, History of United States Naval Aviation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949), pp262‑63, 281‑83. For a biography of Admiral Moffett with considerable detail on the use of airships in the Navy, see Edward Arpee, From Frigates to Flat-Tops (Chicago: Privately printed, 1953), 276pp.
16 Director of War Plans Division [Rear Admiral F. H. Schofield] to the General Board, Washington, April 13, 1929, in U. S., Congress, House, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on Sundry Legislation, 1929‑30, p3009.
17 "Admiral Magruder's Hot Shot," The Literary Digest, October 8, 1927, p14; "The Fight Over the Navy Yards" (editorial), Army and Navy Register, February 25, 1922.
18 Captain W. T. Cluverius to the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, October 2, 1925, Navy Department, Alphabetical File of Assistant Secretary: RG129, Box 2, Archives.
19 Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., to the General Board, Washington, June 13, 1922, Navy Department, General Board, No. 425, Serial 1136, OCNH.
20 Navy Department, General Board, No. 425, Serial 1136, Washington, April 26, 1923, OCNH.
21 "Class of 1923 thesis: Policy, Its Relation to War" (manuscript, Naval War College, September, 1922), pp20‑21.
22 Class of 1927, "Class of 1927 Report of Committee on: A Logistic Study of the Pacific Area as a Theatre of Operations in an Orange-Blue War" (mimeographed, Naval War College, April, 1927), pp18‑19. ("Blue" was the strategical name given the United States.) U. S., Navy Department, General Board, No. 425‑3, Serial 6514, January 15, 1917, OCNH. See also: Memorandum on Naval Matters Connected with the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armament, 1921‑22, compiled by William Howard Gardiner, New York, October 25, 1924, Hilary P. Jones Papers, Box 1, LCMD; Gardiner, "National Policy and Naval Power," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (February, 1926), pp229‑48.
23 Navy Department, General Board, No. 420‑2, Serial 1108, March 29, 1922, OCNH.
24 Hector C. Bywater, "Japan: A Sequel to the Washington Conference," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (May, 1923), pp823‑27. In a letter to the General Board, Assistant Secretary Roosevelt commented: "After the fall of the Philippines, there will unquestionably be an almost irresistible demand from the people of the United States to have our Fleet, numerically superior, proceed at once to Asiatic waters and force an engagement. It is more than probable that this demand will have to be acceded to. . . ." Memorandum to the General Board, July 24, 1924, Navy Department, Alphabetical File of Assistant Secretary 1921‑40: RG130, Box 12, Archives.
By 1930 this belief was still current in the Navy Department. While discussing the strategy of the western Pacific at a meeting of the American delegation to the London Naval Conference, Rear Admiral A. J. Hepburn expressed an opinion to the group that the American public would probably force the Navy to rush to the Philippines though the situation was hopeless and defense impossible. Resumé of Opinions Expressed by Rear Admiral A. J. Hepburn in Answer to Questions by Delegates in Session, January 29, 1930, Harold C. Train Log, Vol. I. This volume of papers, in the possession of Rear Admiral (Ret.) H. C. Train of Annapolis, Maryland, deals with the London Naval Conference. Admiral Train was a technical adviser to the American delegation.
25 A. T. Mahan, "Preparedness for Naval War, 1906," in Naval Administration and Warfare, p193.
26 U. S., Congress, House, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on Sundry Legislation, 1922‑23, February 27, 1922, pp442‑43; Naval Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on Navy Department Appropriation Bill for 1926, 68th Cong., 2d Sess., December 8, 1924, p619.
27 Navy Department, Report of the General Board on Limitation of Armaments (Washington, 1921), p8.
28 Quoted in Jeter A. Iseley and Philip A. Crowl, The U. S. Marines and Amphibious Warfare (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), p28.
29 U. S., Congress, House, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on Sundry Legislation, 1922‑23, March 9, 1922, p647; Louis Morton, "War Plan Orange: Evolution of a Strategy," World Politics, XI (January, 1959), 232‑34.
30 The fight against naval conservatism has been presented in its clearest form by Elting E. Morison in his Admiral Sims and the Modern American Navy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1942); for Admiral W. A. Moffett's role in naval aviation development see Arpee, From Frigates to Flat-Tops; for delightful reminiscences, though occasionally inaccurate, see Eugene E. Wilson, Slipstream, The Autobiography of an Air Craftsman (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1950); see also Turnbull and Lord, History of United States Naval Aviation, pp176‑283; Ashbrook Lincoln, "The United States Navy and Air Power" (unpublished Ph. D. dissertation, University of California, 1946), and Gerald E. Wheeler, "Mitchell, Moffett, and Air Power," The Airpower Historian, VIII (April, 1961), 79‑87.
31 Rear Admiral Harris Laning to Fullam, Newport, September 18, 1923, William F. Fullam Papers, Box 262, LCMD. Laning was president of the Naval War College. See also memorandum — Why the United States Needs More Aircraft Carrier Tonnage Than Other Countries, undated, D/S, London Naval Conference File 252.26/13, Archives.
32 Wood to Frank E. McIntyre, Manila, November 18, 1922, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 161, LCMD; McIntyre to Wood, Washington, December 30, 1922, ibid.; Admiral Joseph Strauss to Wood, Shanghai, June 14, 1922, ibid.; Secretary of the Navy to Secretary of State, Washington, March 2, 1923, D/S, File 500.A4b/129, Archives. This correspondence enclosed a letter from General Wood dealing with his recommendations concerning the Philippines.
33 Memorandum — Materiel Readiness Plan, January 3, 1924, Navy Department, Alphabetical File of Assistant Secretary: RG129, Box 3, Archives. In this memorandum it was recommended that the Navy prepare "Offensive Surprise" plans for an Orange War; but caution was urged in distant operations until mobile drydocks could be secured. Also: U. S., Congress, House, Naval Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, Hearings on Navy Department Appropriation Bill for 1926, 68th Cong., 2d Sess., December 5, 1924, H. R. 10724, pp748‑51.
34 Green H. Hackworth, Digest of International Law, 8 vols. (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1940‑44), I, 124‑26; Tatsuji Takeuchi, War and Diplomacy in the Japanese Empire (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1935), pp418‑21; Acting Secretary of State to Secretary of the Navy, Washington, January 25, 1930, Navy Department, File EF37/7/A4‑3 (300125), Archives.
35 Chief of Naval Operations to Governor of Guam, Washington, April 29, 1922, Navy Department, File 7266‑300:1, Archives. For Japanese complaints see enclosed copy of letter from Minister of Foreign Affairs to United States Ambassador to Japan dated March 23, 1922. A full file of correspondence on this subject may be found in D/S, File 811.3394/23‑101, Archives.
36 Secretary of the Navy to Secretary of State, Washington, July 13, 1929, D/S, File 811.3394/104, Archives. Naval curiosity had undoubtedly been piqued since 1925 when it was learned that the Japanese were intending to build oil storage tanks throughout the Japanese home islands and possessions including three in the South Seas Islands at Ponape, Yabite (Jaluit), and Truk. Memorandum from Office of Naval Intelligence, April 10, 1925, D/S, File 894.3472/4, Archives.
37 Memorandum — Office of Solicitor, August 21, 1929, D/S, File 811.3394/114; Memorandum — Division of Far Eastern Affairs, September 27, 1929, File 811.3394/120, Archives.
38 Secretary of State to Secretary of War, Washington, February 24, 1923, D/S, File 500.A4b/125a; Secretary of the Navy to Secretary of State, Washington, February 28, 1923, D/S, File 500.A4b/127; Secretary of War to Secretary of State, Washington, March 5, 1923, D/S, File 500.A4b/128, Archives. The Office of Naval Intelligence had received several discouraging reports from the naval attaché in Tokyo, Captain Lyman A. Cotten. He had visited in September and October, 1922, several regular Japanese naval bases at Yokosuka, Kure, and Sasebo, had been shown very little, and in general was given the "brush‑off." These bases were not so restricted as those covered by Article XIX. L. A. Cotten, Private Notes [Diary] 1922‑23, Entries for September 27, 1922, and October 27, 1922, in the possession of Mrs. Cotten, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
39 Memorandum — Division of Far Eastern Affairs, March 7, 1923, D/S, File 500.A4b/127, Archives.
40 Navy Department, General Board, No. 420‑2, Serial 1108, Washington, March 29, 1922, OCNH. Eight years later, Admiral H. E. Yarnell commented on the defensibility of the Philippines: "I think I can say this. . . . That at no time since we took the Philippines has the chance that we could go immediately to the Philippines with our fleet and conduct successful operations been anything more than a desperate gamble." U. S., Congress, Senate, Committee on Naval Affairs, Hearings on Treaty on the Limitation of Naval Armaments, 71st Cong., 2d Sess., May 17, 1930, p182.
41 Joint Board, Serial 227, April 14, 1924, Mark L. Bristol Papers, Box 13, LCMD. Admiral H. P. Jones testified at length, as Senior Member of the General Board, before the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions on March 3, 1924. The burden of Jones's argument against Philippine independence was that the Navy would have to support the Open Door and therefore needed bases in the Far East. He noted quite strongly: "The Navy considers that we must possess bases in the Philippines. They are vital to our operations in the Western Pacific — so vital that I consider their abandonment tantamount to abandonment of our ability to protect our interests in the Far East." Typed transcript in Navy Department, General Board, No. 405, Serial 1202, March 3, 1924, OCNH.
42 United States Naval Policy, March 29, 1922, Navy Department, General Board, No. 420‑2, Serial 1108, OCNH.
43 Commander C. C. Gill, "The New Far East Doctrine," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (September, 1922), pp1479‑80; Captain J. K. Taussig, "A Balanced Fleet for the Navy," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (July, 1925), p1109; Captain Walter S. Anderson, "Limitation of Naval Armament," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (March, 1926), pp438‑40.
44 Leonard Wood to Major General W. M. Wright, Manila, August 4, 1922, Interior Department, File 364‑504B, Archives. H. L. Stimson to Wood, at sea, October 11, 1926, Leonard Wood Papers, Box 182, LCMD.
45 Joint Board, No. 305, Serial 227, March 14, 1924, RG94, Archives.
46 Foreign Relations, London Treaty Hearings, May 15, 1930, pp115‑17. Admiral Jones pointed out that even if the United States gave up the Philippines it was still national policy to stand by the Open Door and the territorial integrity of China. Naval Affairs Committee, London Treaty Hearings, May 16, 1930, p133. For Admiral Robison's views see U. S., Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings on Treaty on the Limitation of Naval Armaments, 71st Cong., 2d Sess., May 28, 1930, p348.
47 Joint Board, No. 3035, Serial 472, April 10, 1930, RG94, Archives.
48 Garel A. Grunder and William E. Livezey, The Philippines and the United States (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951), pp189‑94; Don Lohbeck, Patrick J. Hurley (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1956), pp87‑94; Gerald E. Wheeler, "Republican Philippine Policy, 1921‑1933," Pacific Historical Review, XXVIII (November, 1959), pp380‑85, 390.
49 Joint Board, No. 305, Serial 499, October 23, 1931, RG94, Archives.
50 Joint Board, No. 305, Serial 499, October 23, 1931, RG94, Archives.
52 Louis Morton, "Military and Naval Preparations for the Defense of the Philippines during the War Scare of 1907," Military Affairs (Spring, 1949), pp95‑104; Pomeroy, Pacific Outpost, p32; Outten Jones Clinard, Japan's Influence on American Naval Power 1897‑1917, University of California Publications in History, No. 36 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947), pp63‑64; Snowbarger, "The Development of Pearl Harbor," pp104‑14.
53 Memorandum for the Chief of Naval Operations by J. H. Oliver of War Plans Division, August 12, 1920, Navy Department, File 11158‑83, RG80, Archives. For the views of the War Plans Division and Joint Board see ibid. For the views of the Naval War College expressed by Rear Admiral W. S. Sims see Rear Admiral W. S. Sims to the General Board, Newport, August 13, 1920, General Board, No. 404, Serial 1000, OCNH.
54 The papers of Rear Admiral William F. Fullam, U. S. N., contain an interesting series of letters between Fullam and Sims, and Fullam and Laning written in 1922‑23 and dealing with the projected use of naval aviation in the Far East. William F. Fullam Papers, Box 262, LCMD.
55 General Board to Secretary of the Navy, Washington, November 21, 1924, Navy Department, File 27403‑478:4; memorandum, Solicitor's Office, March 11, 1927, D/S, File 841.34593/2, Archives.
56 U. S., Congress, House, Select Committee of Inquiry into Operations of the United States Air Services, Hearings, 68th Congress, February 16, 19, 1925, pp2261, 2763‑64; Navy Department, General Board No. 438, Serial 1347‑10(d), OCNH.
57 Memorandum [for Admiral Moffett], undated, D/S, LNC 252.26/13, Archives.
58 Great Britain, Parliamentary Debates (Commons), July 16, 1923, Columns 1870‑71. See also C. Northcote Parkinson, "The Pre‑1942 Singapore Naval Base," United States Naval Institute Proceedings (September, 1956), pp939‑53; Admiral Sir R. H. Bacon, The Life of John Rushworth Earl Jellicoe (London: Cassell & Co., Ltd., 1936), pp426‑48; Hector C. Bywater, Navies and Nations: A Review of Naval Developments Since the Great War (London: Constable and Company, Ltd., 1927), pp66‑68; for a complete exposition on the strategic importance see Captain Russell Grenfell, Main Fleet to Singapore (London: Faber & Faber, Ltd., 1951).
59 For British reasons on the necessity for the Singapore Base, see Great Britain, "Singapore Naval Base," Correspondence with the Self-governing Dominions & India Regarding the Development of the Singapore Naval Base: Command 2083, March 25, 1924 (London: HMSO, 1924), 15pp.
The Japanese official view on Singapore shifted constantly, depending on the party in power and the value of having the British as a whipping boy at the time. As Foreign Minister for Premier Kato, Baron Shidehara could see no danger in the Singapore Base. Tokyo Asahi, December 29, 1924, in D/S, File 711.94/533, Tokyo, January 5, 1925, Archives. As Premier, Baron Shidehara criticized the British heavily for building the base, D/S, File 711.945/1262, Tokyo, January 27, 1925, Archives.
60 D/S, File 856E.00/1, Soerabaya, Java, July 23, 1923, Archives. On July 30, 1923, The Soerabaiasch Handelblad ran an article, "Big Brother," in which a reserve officers' magazine was quoted concerning the lack of naval appropriations for the Indies: "Economy maniacs [in Holland] will be glad to know that 'the big brother,' England, will defend Netherlands India for the Dutch so that large naval expenditures may be economized. National honor is too expensive, in these materialistic days no one is expected to trouble about unprofitable idealism. . . ." Enclosure in D/S, File 841.34546d/12, Soerabaya, Java, October 11, 1923, Archives. See also Nicholas Roosevelt, "The Strategy of Singapore", Foreign Affairs (January, 1929), p321.
61 D/S, File 856E.00/2, Soerabaya, Java, January 17, 1924, Archives. Consul Rollin R. Winslow called the State Department's attention to British oil developments in Dutch Borneo and commented: ". . . The Dutch place great reliance upon the English to defend their precious and wealthy possessions and this may in some measure account for the fact that the British (Shell) have been given very large petroleum concessions to the exclusion of American firms." File 894.20256g/-, Soerabaya, Java, July 3, 1925; see also despatch 841.3356/1, The Hague, September 20, 1926, for Minister Tobin's views on British-Dutch naval collaboration in the Indies. For similar views in the British Straits Settlements see despatch 841.34546d/42, Singapore, May 2, 1927, Archives.
62 Nicholas Roosevelt, A Front Row Seat (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953), pp143‑44. With greater detail and accuracy the same story is presented in Roosevelt's earlier book, The Restless Pacific (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928), pp156‑59.
63 Roosevelt, "Strategy of Singapore," p321. See also, "A Timely Warning" (editorial, The Manila Times, May 26, 1929, enclosed in Interior Department, File 364‑539D, Archives,
64 Navy Department, General Board, No. 426, Serial 1136, April 26, 1923, OCNH. The General Board had recommended unity of action with the Canadians and Australians in matters concerning Japan and the racial question as early as August, 1920. Navy Department, Report of the General Board on Limitation of Armament, pp25‑26.
65 The Embassy in Paris sent in an editorial, "Do Not Awaken the Sleeping Cat," Le Figaro of July 26, 1923. The article commented on how upset the Japanese were at the Singapore base, whereas the Americans paid very little attention to it. With close attention to American diplomatic history, the editorialist noted: "One would readily understand that, as an experiment, the same government which during a century found certain advantages in reconciling the Monroe Doctrine with the existence of an immense English fleet might find it profitable and perhaps convenient to tolerate temporarily at Singapore, opposite eternal Japan and the Philippines, which are little fortified, a fleet in being, capable of doing police duty in those distant waters." D/S, File 841.30/48, Paris, August 3, 1923, Archives. The Montreal Star for June 10, 1924, commented on the immigration bill, the dangerous trend in Japanese-American relations, and the mutual interests of the United States and the British Empire in the Pacific. It predicted that the Singapore base might be needed earlier than believed. D/S, File 711.945/1141, Montreal, June 16, 1924, Archives. For Japanese predictions of American-Australian cooperation see D/S, File 711.94/513, Tokyo, October 15, 1924, Archives.
66 Commander-in‑chief Asiatic Fleet to the Chief of Naval Operations, Manila, March 22, 1923, Navy Department, File 27403‑437:2, Archives.
67 Roosevelt in A Front Row Seat, pp152‑53, noted: "Nearly all the Dutch with whom I spoke in the Indies echoed the fears expressed to me at the Hague by Prime Minister Colijn — that Japan would seize the Indies." Minister Richard M. Tobin reported similar views in D/S, File 711.94/545, The Hague, February 19, 1925, Archives.
68 Commander-in‑chief Asiatic Fleet to the Chief of Naval Operations, Saigon, March 25, 1925, Navy Department, File 27403‑500, Archives.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 24 Sep 14