Mitsuo Fuchida's Story page 2
Since our departure from Tankan Bay, a strict alert had been kept against U. S. submarines. Our course was chosen to pass between the Aleutians and Midway Island so as to keep out of range of air patrols, some of which were supposed to extend 600 miles. Another concern during the cruise was how to avoid a chance meeting with foreign merchant ships. The three submarines sent ahead of the fleet were to report any ships sighted to the fleet, which would then alter course to avoid them.
If an enemy fleet was sighted before X-2 day, our force was to reverse course immediately and abandon the operation. On the other hand, if it was one day before X day, whether to reverse course or launch the attack was left to the discretion of the task force commander.
Meanwhile, deceptive measures were being taken elsewhere to cover up our movements. On 5, 6, and 7 December sailors of the Yokosuka Naval Barracks were sent to Tokyo on a sightseeing tour. In early December Tatsuta Maru of the N.Y.K. Line had even left Yokohama heading for Honolulu, and she reversed course only upon receipt of the news that hostilities had begun.
Since leaving Tankan Bay we had maintained our eastward course in complete secrecy, thanks to thick, low-hanging clouds. Moreover, on 30 November, 6 and 7 December, the sea, which we feared might be rough, was calm enough for easy fueling. The not-too-rough sea also made it easy to maintain and prepare planes, and gave the men, especially the flying crews, a much needed chance to relax.
The fleet observed strict radio silence, but concentrated on listening for broadcasts from Tokyo or Honolulu. Our predominant concern was to catch any word about the outbreak of war.
In Tokyo a liaison conference between the Government and the High Command was held every day from 27 to 30 November to discuss the U. S. proposal of the 26th. It was concluded that the proposal was an ultimatum tending to subjugate Japan and making war inevitable. At the liaison conference of the 30th the decision was made to go, to war. This conference also concluded that a message declaring the end of negotiations be sent to the U. S., but that efforts be continued to the last moment. The final decision for war was made at an Imperial Conference on 1 December.
Next day the General Staff issued the long-awaited order and our task force received the Combined Fleet dispatch of 1730 which said, "X Day will be 8 December."
Now the die was cast and our duty was clear. The fleet drove headlong to the east.
Why was 8 December chosen as X day? That was 7 December and Sunday, a day of rest, in Hawaii. Was this merely a bright idea to hit the U. S. Fleet off duty? No, it was not so simple as that. This day for the opening of hostilities had been coordinated with the time of the Malayan operations, where air raids and landings were scheduled for dawn. Favorable moonlight was a major consideration, three or four days after the full moon being the most desirable time, and on 8 December the moon was 19 days old.
There was another reason for choosing 8 December. Our information indicated that the fleet returned to harbor on weekends after training periods at sea, so there was great likelihood that it would be in Pearl Harbor on Sunday morning. All things considered, 8 December was the logical day for the attack.
Long before the planning of the Pearl Harbor attack we had been interested in fleet activities in the Hawaiian area. Our information showed:
After Japan's decision to go to war had been sent to the Attack Force, intelligence reports on U. S. Fleet activities continued to be relayed to us from Tokyo. The information was thorough, but the news was often delayed two or three days in reaching Tokyo. These reports from Imperial General Staff were generally as follows:
• Issued 2200, 2 December; received 0017, 3 December
Activities in Pearl Harbor as of 0800/28 November:
Departed: 2 BB (Oklahoma and Nevada), 1 CV (Enterprise), 2 CA, 12 DD.
Arrived: 5 BB, 3 CA, 3 CL, 12 DD, 1 tanker.
Ships making port today are those which departed 22 November.
Ships in port on afternoon of 28 November estimated as follows:
6 BB (2 Maryland class, 2 California class, 2 Pennsylvania class)
1 CV (Lexington)
9 CA (5 San Francisco class, 3 Chicago class, and Salt Lake City)
5 CL (4 Honolulu class and Omaha)
• Issued 2300, 3 December; received 0035, 4 December
Ships present Pearl Harbor on afternoon of 29 November:
District A (between Naval Yard and Ford Island)
KT (docks northwest of Naval Yard): Pennsylvania and Arizona
FV (mooring pillars): California, Tennessee, Maryland, and West Virginia
KS (naval yard repair dock): Portland
In docks: 2 CA, 1 DD
Elsewhere: 4 SS, 1 DD tender, 2 patrol ships, 2 tankers, 2 repair ships, 1 minesweeper
District B (sea area northwest of Ford Island)
FV (mooring pillars): Lexington
Elsewhere: Utah, 1 CA (San Francisco class), 2 CL (Omaha class), 3 gunboats
District C (East Loch)
3 CA, 2 CL (Honolulu class), 17 DD, 2 DD tenders
District D (Middle Loch)
District E (West Loch)
No changes observed by afternoon of 2 December. So far they do not seem to have been alerted. Shore leaves as usual.
Issued 2030, 4 December; received 0420, 5 December
So far no indications of sea patrol flights being conducted. It seems that occasional patrols are being made to Palmyra, Johnston and Midway Islands. Pearl Harbor patrols unknown.
Issued 2200, 6 December; received 1036, 7 December
Activities in Pearl Harbor on the morning of 5 December:
Arrived: Oklahoma and Nevada (having been out for eight days)
Departed: Lexington and five heavy cruisers
Ships in harbor as of 1800, 5 December:
8 BB, 3 CL, 16 DD
In docks: 4 CL (Honolulu class), 5 DD
• Issued 1700, 7 December; received 1900, 7 December
No balloons, no torpedo-defense nets deployed around battleships. No indications observed from enemy radio activity that ocean patrol flights are being made in Hawaiian area. Lexington left harbor yesterday (S December, local time) and recovered planes. Enterprise is also thought to be operating at sea with her planes on board.
Issued 1800, 7 December; received 2050, 7 December
Utah and a seaplane tender entered harbor in the evening of S December. (They had left harbor on 4 December.)
Ships in harbor as of 6 December:
9 BB, 3 CL, 3 seaplane tenders, 17 DD
In docks: 4 CL, 3 DD
All carriers and heavy cruisers are at sea. No special reports on the fleet. Oahu is quiet and Imperial General Staff is fully convinced of success.