Friday, December 7, 2007

Pearl Harbor

This Day In History Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941

At dawn on Sunday, December 7, 1941 66 years ago today, naval aviation forces of the Empire of Japan attacked the United States Pacific Fleet Center at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and other military targets. The goal of this attack was to sufficiently cripple the US Fleet so that Japan could then attack and capture the Philippines and Indo-China and so secure access to the raw materials needed to maintain its position as a global military and economic power.

Airfields, port facilities, and warships were attacked and severely damaged. Of the nine Pacific Fleet battleships at Pearl that day, Utah and Arizona were completely destroyed and the Oklahoma was salvaged but considered obsolete and designated for scrap. All other battleships were returned to service. The expected result of the attack was to cripple the U. S. Pacific Fleet for a period of up to eighteen months, preventing aggressive action against imperial forces, with the fleet to later be drawn out into a final battle and destroyed. This goal eluded the Japanese as U. S. forces were acting aggressively in the South Pacific within 60 days and the fleet was fully effective within a year. There was never the kind of massive fleet battle that the Japanese hoped for.

The attack was almost a complete tactical success. By a matter of chance, of the three of the Pacific Fleet carriers that would normally be at Pearl that morning, two were at sea on exercises and one was on the U. S. west coast undergoing maintenance. Not knowing the location of these ships that could attack his strike force would cause the tactical commander, Admiral Nagumo to withdraw before a planned third strike, sparing the Pacific Fleet submarine force, important maintenance facilities and critical fuel supplies. The survival of the repair shops would enable rapid restoration of the fighting capability of the fleet. The carriers would enable the first blow to be struck against the Japanese homeland in the Doolittle raid, would prove to be decisive in the Battle of the Coral Sea, where the Japanese forces were turned back in their thrust toward Australia, and would prove essential to U. S. success in the Battle of Midway Island, where naval a viation forces from U.S. carriers sank four Imperial carriers.

( This entry originated at from Medals of America )