It was the worst single defeat suffered by the United States Navy with losses totaling more than all those suffered in WWI. This attack is of course the fault of Japan, but Americans have to take responsibility for it too. The question is who is responsible for this grave disaster, Washington officials or those in command at Pearl Harbor? Some believe government officials caused Pearl Harbor because of their failure to warn the fleet on time and for withholding valuable information from the commanders in charge of Pearl Harbor. Others, including myself, believe those stationed at the harbor are to blame for this catastrophic tragedy.
There was a lack of common sense displayed by the officials, as well as many poor judgment calls. A year before the Pearl Harbor attack, United States government officials cracked Japans secret diplomatic code. As a result, these government officials were able to intercept and translate Japans secret plans involving an attack against the United States Naval bases located in the Pacific. With this new found information, it was determined that logical Japanese attacks would come to the Malay Peninsula or the Dutch East Indies. On November 27, The Navy Department sent Admiral Kimmel, Commander of the Pacific Fleet including Pearl Harbor, a war warning telling him the dangers of attack in the Philippines, Thai, Kra Peninsula, or perhaps Borneo. They went on to tell him to execute an appropriate defensive deployment.
This war warning does not specifically mention Pearl Harbor, but common sense should have told Kimmel that when you have a naval base with eight battleships, many smaller ships, some 400 airplanes, and thousands of sailors and civilians sitting on an island in the middle of the Pacific, you should get in a defensive mode and prepare for some kind of attack. To many people the possibility of attacking Pearl Harbor was not some bogus idea thought up by a paranoid sailor. Henry L. Stimson, the United States Secretary of War, in a report giving in the Joint Committee on Investigating Pearl Harbor said, We had spent several million dollars in defense of HawaiiThat Hawaii could be attack if Japan went to war was obvious to everyoneThere was a certain part of the pacific Ocean that we called the “Vacant Sea” in which there were practically no ships and in which larger movements of ships could occur without anybody seeing them. Stimsons above statement should have made Pearl Harbor even more alert and prepared. However, they seemed more relaxed and unconcerned with the present danger than ever with General Short in command.
One thing Short did that helped make things easier for Japan was keeping the planes in tight formation while they were grounded. He might as well have placed and painted them like a bulls eye to help the Japanese practice aiming skills. Short said that the reason the planes were packed so close was to help protect against sabotage. (Pearl Harbor Show) Again this only seems to be encouraging damage to navy equipment because if one was to blow up one plane, the explosion and shrapnel would also hurt the planes nearby as well. Another thing Short did was keep his antiaircraft ammunition so stored that it could not be promptly and immediately available.
Short also set up certain times in which the radar was to be used. For example, the radar was to be turned off after 7:00 am. This seems to be especially senseless and ignorant. The radar can detect things farther and better than the naked eye. By having the radar off during daylight hours, valuable time is wasted from when the radar would see planes to when the gaurds eye does.
This time could be spent warning the sailors and letting them get to their battle stations.On the morning of December 7th the radar was left on a little bit later to help train a new mechanical worker.The two sailors who were watching the radar that morning noticed what seemed like a huge air convoy heading in their direction a few miles away .