U.S. Navy in Hawaii, 1826-1945
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The U.S. Navy in Hawaii,
1826-1945; An Administrative History, by Department of the Navy, Naval
Historical Center, May 25 2001,
from Fourteenth Naval District. Administrative History of the Fourteenth Naval District and the Hawaiian Sea Frontier. Vol. 1, Hawaii, 1945.
An Administrative History
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY
Adapted from Historical Section, Fourteenth Naval District. Administrative History of the Fourteenth Naval District and the Hawaiian Sea Frontier, Vol. 1, Hawaii, 1945. This manuscript, identified as United States Naval Administrative History of World War II #121-A, is located in the Navy Department Library's Rare Book Room. The microfiche edition is available for purchase or through interlibrary loan from the Navy Department Library.
Please Note: This historic manuscript written in 1945, represent the views of the author and not necessarily the view of the Naval Historical Center. This is particularly true with regard to the introductory material dealing with the Navy in the 19th Century, and the annexation of Hawaii.
The interest of the United States Government in the Sandwich Islands followed the adventurous voyages of its whaling and trading ships in the Pacific. As early as 1820, an "Agent of the United States for Commerce and Seamen" was appointed to look after American business in the Port of Honolulu. With the cementing of commercial ties with the American continent, another factor to be considered was the endeavors of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. This was particularly true when the American missionaries and their families became an integral part of the Hawaiian body politic.
With the exception of a few unfortunate episodes, American prestige tended to increase in the islands. One of these was the affair of Lieut. John Percival in 1826 which illustrates some of the high-handed tactics of that time. When his ship, the USS Dolphin, had arrived in Honolulu and ordinance had just been passed, inspired by the missionaries, placing restrictions on the sale of alcoholic liquors and the taking of women aboard vessels in the Honolulu Harbor. Lieut. Percival and members of his crew felt that the new vice laws were unfair and with more than a mere threat of force had them rescinded. This act, it must be said, was later renounced by the United States and resulted in the sending of an envoy to King Kauikeaouli. When Captain Thomas A.P. Catesby Jones arrived, in command of the USS Peacock, he was the first naval officer to visit Hawaii armed with instructions to discuss international affairs with the Hawaii King and Chiefs, and to conclude a trade treaty.
In spite of the Percival incident, American influence in the islands was steadily increasing. Throughout the twenties and thirties of the Nineteenth Century, many American warships visited Honolulu. In most cases the commanding officers carried letters with them from the U.S. Government; all sympathetically friendly toward the Hawaiian sovereign and, as a rule, giving advice concerning the conduct of governmental affairs and of the relations of the island nation with foreign powers. In 1841, the weekly periodical, Polynesian, printed in Honolulu, advocated editorially that the U.S. establish a naval base in Hawaii. Its pretext was the protection of the interest of American citizens engaged in the whaling industry. The pro-British Hawaiian minister, R.C. Wyllie, remarked in 1840 that ". . . my opinion is that the tide of events rushes on to annexation to the United States." This trend was in no way hampered by the over-anxious endeavors of the English and the French governments to gain favorable trade concessions in the islands. On 13 February 1843, Lord George Paulet, of HMS Garysfort, attempted to annex the islands for alleged insults and malpractices against British subjects. Although an American warship, the USS Boston, was in the harbor at the time, its commanding officer did not protest this threatened use of violence. Official protest was made a few days later, however, by Commodore Kearney of the USS Constellation. Fortunately, before the matter became an international incident, the actions of Lord Paulet were disallowed by Lord Aberdeen in London. The results of this affair led to the formulation of a self-denying declaration by France and Britain to any act interfering with the Sandwich Islands as an independent state. The United States, although invited to become a member of this concert of nations, declined to take part in the convention because the time had not arrived for her "to depart from the principle by virtue of which they had always kept their foreign policy independent of foreign powers."
When France commenced her agitations for special concessions in the 1850's, the King, under the influence of his American advisors, drew up a deed of cessation to the United States. The commanding officer of the USS Vandalia had his ship stand by to prevent the intervention of any foreign power during the interim before Washington's reply. With the death of the king, the retirement of the French forces, and the foreign policy of the Fillmore administration, the cessation idea fell into discard. The Navy Department received orders, however, to keep the naval armament of the U.S. in the Pacific to guarantee the safety of the Hawaiian Government.
With the conclusion of the Civil War, the purchase of Alaska, the increased importance of the Pacific states, the projected trade with the Orient and the desire for a duty free market for Hawaiian staples, the islands were irresistibly drawn into the centripetal whirlpool of expansion. In 1865, the North Pacific Squadron was formed to embrace the western coast and the Sandwich Islands. The USS Lackawanna in the following year was assigned the task of cruising among the islands, "a locality of great and increasing interest and importance." This vessel surveyed the islands and reefs, northwest of the Sandwich Islands toward Japan. It was as a result of these surveys that the United States established its claims to Midway. The Secretary of the Navy was able to write in his annual report of 1868, that in November, 1867, forty-two American flags flew over whaleships and merchant vessels in Honolulu to only six foreign flags. This increased activity caused the permanent assignment of at least one warship to Hawaiian waters. This same report praised the possibilities of Brooks, or Midway Island, which had been discovered in 1858, as possessing a harbor surpassing that of Honolulu. In the following year, Congress approved an appropriation of $50,000 on 1 March 1869, to deepen the approaches to this harbor.
Since 1868, when the Commander of the Pacific Fleet visited the islands to look after "American interests," naval officers have played an important role in internal affairs. They served as arbitrators in business disputes, negotiators of trade agreements and defenders of law and order. Periodic voyages among the islands and to the mainland aboard U.S. warships were arranged for members of the Royal family and important island government officials. When King Lunalilo died in 1873, negotiations were underway for the cessation of Pearl Harbor as a port for the exportation of sugar to the U.S. duty free. With the election of a new king, King Kalakaua in March, 1874, anti-American factions helped to precipitate a number of riots which were regarded as sufficiently disturbing to have bluejackets landed from the USS Tuscorora and the USS Portsmouth. The British warship, HMS Tenedos, also, landed a token force. It was during the reign of King Kalakaua that the United States was granted exclusive rights to enter Pearl Harbor and to establish "a coaling and repair station."
Pearl Harbor, as it is now known, is mentioned in the accounts of early Pacific voyages as "Wai-Momi"--literally, the "Water of the Pearl" or "Pearl Water." It is also mentioned in early accounts as "Pearl River" and "Pearl Lochs."
The earliest discoverers, explorers, and traders who wrote accounts of their visits to the Sandwich Islands, seem to have given the most of their attention to the Islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai. The first published description of Pearl Harbor appears to be the one mentioned in Captain Nathaniel Portlock's journal, printed in 1789, of his experiences on a voyage if discovery in command of the British vessels King George and Queen Charlotte.
From 1786 until the publication in 1845 of the record of Commodore Wilkes' visit with the U.S. exploring expedition there is only casual mention of Pearl Harbor by those who left accounts of their visits to the islands. Captain George Vancouver, reporting on the visit which he made on the HMS Discovery between 1792 and 1794, records the fact that he started to make a survey of "Oporoak," as he called Pearl Harbor; but on finding that the entrance was navigable only for small craft, the survey was discontinued.
Captain John Kendrich in command of the Lady Washington, an armed merchantman operating before the founding of the American Navy, is reported to have assisted the King of Oahu in a victorious battle in the Pearl Harbor region late in 1794, operating with his crew both ashore and from small boats in the lagoon. This might properly be called America's first military activity in Pearl Harbor.
Captain Archibald Campbell in his A Voyage Around the World from 1806 to 1812, gives quite an accurate description of a reconnaissance of the shoreline and waters of Pearl Harbor, which he called "Wyumme," with a description of Ford Island, which was then known as "Rabbit Island."
Peter Corney, one of the earliest settlers of European ancestry of Oahu, reported in 1818 that the depth of the water at Pearl Harbor was "not more than 15 feet of water on the bar or reef at high water and inside from 6 to 18 fathoms mud and sand." Corney also stated that there were many divers employed in diving for pearl oysters and that he had saved them much trouble by presenting the King with an oyster dredge. So far as can be ascertained, this is the first use of dredge in these islands.
In 1824, Great Britain sent the bodies of Kamehameha II and his Queen, who had died in London of the measles, back to Hawaii on the HMS Blonde, under the command of Lord Byron. The British Government took advantage of this opportunity to acquire more detailed information concerning the islands; and to that end, included in the personnel of the ship a party of scientists. Among these was a Lieut. Charles R. Malden, a surveyor, who during the stay of the ship, made a comprehensive and extensive survey of several harbors and roadsteads. One of these surveys was a fairly complete charting of the whole of Pearl Harbor, with soundings taken throughout the entrance channel and the three main lochs. The chart resulting from this survey was printed in 1841 by the British Hydrographic Office. This coast line map shows the whole of Pearl Harbor and tributary country and indicates the existence of extensive fields in cultivation in its vicinity. What is known as the "Shark Pen" at the narrows in the inner entrance to the harbor is marked "Fish Weon Point."
In connection with this same expedition, Andrew Bloxom reported that on 17 May 1825 a party went in the launch on an expedition to the Pearl River or lochs and often describing the hazards of navigating the narrow entrance through the coral reefs, stated that but for the treacherous approach "it would form a most excellent harbor as inside there is plenty of water to float the largest ship and room enough for the entire Navy of England."
In 1840, fifteen years after the British survey had been made, but a year prior to the publication of the Malden Chart, Commodore Charles Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, under orders to chart the islands of the Pacific for the U.S. Government, called at Oahu. During his visit, Kamehameha III requested him to make a survey of Pearl Harbor. The chart resulting from his work represents the first technical work by the U.S. Navy in Pearl Harbor. It is interesting to note that this survey was limited to sounding across the bar and through the channel only as far as Bishop's Point or just within the land-locked area. Some of the landmarks noted on this chart still stand, but the Hawaiian Dredging Company's camp at Watertown occupies the location marked as a "Poi Village."
In referring to Pearl Harbor, Commodore Wilkes stated that "the inlet has somewhat the appearance of a lagoon that has been partly filled up by alluvial deposits" and expressed the opinion that "if the water upon the bar should be deepened, which I doubt not can be effected, it would afford the best and most capacious harbor in the Pacific."
As a result of the gesture of Lord George Paulet to annex the islands to Great Britain in 1843, Dr. C.P. Judd, the Hawaiian Minister of Foreign Affairs took advantage of the presence of the U.S. Frigate Constitution in Hawaiian waters in 1845 and requested Lieut. F.W. Curtis, a young American Marine Officer, to survey the situation and make some recommendations as to the best practicable method of fortifying Honolulu against further foreign aggression. This investigation was made secretly and Lieut. Curtis communicated his conclusions to Dr. Judd after the departure of the Constitution in the form of a letter written from Mazatlan, Mexico on 21 February 1846. His report makes the first reference to the military potentiality of Pearl Harbor as offering "perfect security."
For more than 25 years after this suggestion concerning the importance of Pearl Harbor as a factor in connection with the military defense of the islands, there is practically nothing with reference to the harbor to be found in the published records of the large number of American ships whose visits overlapped in their length of stay. This may possibly be accounted for by the fact that religious, social and other internal troubles were occupying the minds not only of the residents but of the visitors and explorers during that period.
In 1873, the USS California, with Rear Admiral A.M. Pennock, brought to the islands a military commission consisting of Major General J.M. Schofield and Brevet Brigadier General B.S. Alexander. This commission proceeded, under secret instructions form the Secretary of War, William W. Belknap, to examine the different ports of the Hawaiian Islands with reference to their defensive capabilities and their commercial facilities.
King Lunalilo was petitioned by the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce in February 1873 to negotiate a reciprocal treaty with the U.S., and in this resolution the suggestion was made that the Pearl River lagoon be offered to the U.S. as an inducement. After due consideration, The King conveyed to the U.S. Minister resident at Honolulu, through his Minister of Foreign Affairs, the original treaty proposal in which was included the cession of the Pearl River lagoon; and on 7 July 1873, the American Minister notified his government at Washington that the King had offered to negotiate a treaty on that basis. Four months later, the Hawaiian Gazette of 14 November 1873 printed a "By Authority" notice to the effect that the King was satisfied that a treaty carrying with it the cession of Pearl Harbor would not receive the legislative approval required by the Constitution of the Kingdom and hence had withdraw that feature of his offer. The editorial appearing in the Hawaiian Gazette of that date endeavors to explain that the original Pearl Harbor proposal had been for a lease and not a cession of territory. Much capital was made of the proposal to excite the Hawaiians to opposition.
After the death of Lunalilo and the election of Kalakaua as king, he proceeded to Washington, and there, it is conceded by some writers of the time, it was the King's personality which was largely responsible for the final consummation of the original reciprocity treaty in 1875. The financial benefits of this treaty to the agricultural interests of the islands were so great that the best interests in Hawaii were keenly alive to the importance of securing an extension of the treaty beyond its definite term of seven years. Due to opposition on the mainland, this extension was not secured for a number of years; but finally, on 20 January 1887, the U.S. Senate in secret session modified the convention providing for the extension of the treaty, after adding an amendment as clause II, providing that "His Majesty the King of the Hawaiian Islands, grants to the Government of the U.S. the exclusive right to enter the harbor of Pearl River, in the Island of Oahu, and to establish and maintain there a coaling and repair station for the use of vessels of the U.S. and to that end the U.S may improve the entrance to said harbor and do all things useful to the purpose aforesaid." This treaty was ratified by the Hawaiian Senate and signed by the King on 29 October 1887.
The treaty had scarcely been proclaimed when a note was handed to the Secretary of State in Washington by the British Ambassador in which the attention of the U.S. Government was called to the Franco-English Compact of 1843 by which those two nations agreed never to take possession of the Hawaiian Island "either directly or under the title of a protectorate;" and suggesting a triple compact in which the U.S. should join, guaranteeing the neutrality and equal accessibility of the islands and their harbors to the ships of all nations, without preference. The British Commissioner at Honolulu simultaneously delivered a note of formal protest against a grant to the U.S. of the exclusive use of Pearl Harbor as a coaling and repair station.
While this treaty continued in force until August 1898, no advantage was taken by the U.S. Government of the opportunity to fortify or use Pearl Harbor as a naval base. The shallow entrance constituted a formidable barrier against the use of the deep protected waters of the inner harbor as definitely in the nineties as in the thirties.
The first [regular U.S. Navy shoreside presence] in the Hawaiian Islands resulted from the lease of land for a coaling station at Honolulu in 1860. This station practically fell into disuse shortly after it was built due to the policy that required warships to use sail power wherever possible. Commencing in 1879, the station was placed in charge of the Consul General, who was allowed a personal fee of twenty-five cents for each tons of coal handled.
When Queen Liliokalani was dethroned in the palace revolution of 1893 (17 January), the military influence of the USS Boston, in Honolulu Harbor, insured its success. In 1895, when the Royalists attempted a counter-revolution, an American warship's presence (USS Philadelphia) dampened the possibility for success. The provisional government under Sanford Dole made the final appeal for annexation when the military necessity of the islands became apparent. In 1898, as the U.S. attempted to transport troops, livestock and equipment to the Philippines, the importance of the islands as a depot or reshipping point became obvious. Annexation was approved on 6 July 1898, and on 12 August 1898, the U.S. flag was run up over the palace. Within a month Commander Z.L. Tanner was given orders to proceed to Honolulu for temporary duty to prepare planes for wharves, coal sheds, and warehouses for naval purposes. He was also instructed to make a survey of Pearl Harbor which might be utilized "sometime in the future." Contracts were let this same year for increasing the capacity of the coal sheds from 1,000 to 20,000 tons and the construction of two piers. The Presidential proclamation of November 1898, reserved certain land in Honolulu and Hawaii for naval purposes and coal sheds.
In May 1899, Commander F. Merry was made naval representative with authority to transact business for the Navy Department and its Bureaus. He immediately assumed control of the Coal Depot and its equipment. To supplement his facilities, he was assigned the Navy tug Iroquois and tow coal barges. Inquiries that commenced in June culminated in the establishment of the "Naval Station, Honolulu" on 17 November 1899. On 2 February 1900, this title was changed to "Naval Station, Hawaii."
The creation of the Naval Station afforded the Navy Department an opportunity to explore into territorial outposts. In October 1899 the USS Nero and the Iroquois made extensive surveys and sounding of the waterways to Midway and Guam. One of the reasons for these explorations was for the selection of a possible cable route to Luzon.
A coal famine and an outbreak of the bubonic plague were the only two incidents that hindered the Commandant from fulfilling his primary functions. Because of the severe coal shortage in September 1899, the Commandant sold coal to the Oahu Railway and Land Company and the inter-Island Steam navigation Company, Limited. Although this indicated the affinity of economic ties with the Navy, it was to a certain extent counteracted by the quarantine of the naval establishment from December 1899 to February 1900, because of the bubonic plague. Approximately 61 deaths were recorded in Honolulu for this period. Work was consequently delayed on nascent Navy projects in Honolulu Harbor.
From 1901 to 1908 the Navy devoted its time to improving the facilities of the 85 acres that constituted the naval reservation in Honolulu. Under the Appropriation Act of 3 March 1901, this tract of land was improved with the erection of additional sheds and housing. Improvements included a machine shop, smithery and foundry, Commandant's house and stables, cottage for the watchman, fencing, ten-ton wharf crane, and water-pipe system. The harbor was dredged and the channel enlarged to accommodate larger ships. On 28 May 1903, the first battleship, USS Wisconsin, entered the harbor for coal and water. However, when the vessels of the Asiatic station visited Honolulu in January 1904, Rear Admiral Sials Terry complained that they were inadequately accommodated with dockage and water.
Under the above Appropriation Act, Congress approved the acquisition of lands for the development of a naval station at Pearl Harbor and the improvement of the channel to the Lochs. The Commandant, under the direction of the Bureau of Equipment, attempted to obtain options on lands surrounding Pearl Harbor that were recommended for naval use. This endeavor was unsuccessful when the owners of the property refused to accept what was deemed to be a fair price. Condemnation proceedings, under the Hawaiian law of eminent domain, were begun on 6 July 1901. The land acquired by this suit included the present Navy Yard, Kauhua Island, and a strip on the southeast coast of Ford Island. The work of dredging the coral reef that blocked Pearl Harbor progressed rapidly enough to allow the gunboat, USS Petrel, to proceed to the upper part of Main Loch in January 1905.
One of the early concerns of the growing station was that the Army would make claims on its property. Because of their facilities, as wharves, cranes, artesian wells, and coal supplies, many requests were made by the Army for their use. By February 1901, the Army had made application for the privilege of establishing on Navy docks movable cranes for handling coal and other stores, a saluting battery and a flag staff on the naval reservation, and an artesian well of its own. All these requests were rejected by the Bureau of Equipment on the theory that, once granted, they "will practically constitute a permanent foothold on the property, and end in dividing it between the two Departments, or in the entire exclusion of the Navy Department on the ground of military expediency as established by frequency of use." However, the Army Depot Quartermaster at Honolulu contracted for the sinking of an artesian well on the Naval Station with the Commandant's approval, who, in turn, acted on a recommendation of the Bureau of Yards and Docks. The flow of water obtained amounted to over a million and a half gallons per day, sufficient for all purposes of the Army and navy. The Bureau of Equipment felt that its word of caution was justified when the Depot Quartermaster in 1902 let it be known that any water used by the Navy from the artesian well was "only given by courtesy of the Army."
Despite the warnings of the Bureau of Equipment, the War Department, the Department of labor and Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture had secured permission to settle on the naval reservation. By 1906, the Commandant believed that it was necessary for the Bureau of Yards and Docks to develop a policy on the future of the station. The docks were being used to a greater extent by the Army transports, than by Navy ships, and the Army was actually attempting to get possession of Quarantine Wharf (which was built by the Territorial Government on the Naval Reservation, with the understanding that it could be taken over at any time by the Navy Department upon the payment of its appraised value.) In 1903, the Department of labor and Commerce received about seven acres for an Immigration Station. The Department of Agriculture had, in the meanwhile, secured part of the site intended for a hospital as an experimental station. The Commandant felt that, if the station was going to develop beyond a mere coaling depot, these territorial encroachments on the part of other departments should be stopped, particularly when they were enjoying the benefits of naval appropriations. "On the other hand," he wrote, "if it is the intention to improve Pearl Harbor and eventually abandon this station every effort should be made to begin work there as soon as possible. . . . I am informed that important commercial interests will make a strong effort next year to have Pearl Harbor improved, and I think that will be an opportune time for the Navy Department to make efforts in the same direction." By 1910, when it was planned to move the Commandant's headquarters to the Pearl Harbor Station, the Commandant felt that the lands of the Navy Department in Honolulu should not be surrendered to any of the other government departments. The Commandant, referring to the congestion of the New York Navy Yard by the sale of the Wallabout land and the inadequate wharfing facilities of the Portsmouth (N.H.) Yard, stated that the property should be retained "until its value to the Navy Department has passed beyond question. To forestall any claims by the War Department, he pointed out their possession of 15,000 acres on the island of Oahu, and that their "argument for absorbing further naval property is not clear."
Until the transfer of the Naval Station to Pearl Harbor, the naval reservation in Honolulu remained nothing more than a rather elaborate coaling station. The major interests were the shipping and weighing of coal and the checking of invoices. No repairs were performed on Navy vessels. The regular labor force took care of the yard and the buildings, except for the few machinists who were irregularly employed. When the USS Iroquois, the station tug, needed urgent repairs, the Commandant sought bids from the local firms, the Honolulu Iron Works Company and the Cotton, Neill, and Company. The former company refused to submit a bid because of the lack of competent labor in its plant, while the latter placed a bid that the Commandant considered excessive. It was his opinion that it would be more economical for the vessel to be repaired at Mare Island, although the vessel would consume more than 230 tons of coal on the round trip. He felt that such a procedure would serve as a "reminder that the government is not altogether at the mercy of the local firms."
The station grew slowly, and not always at an even pace. By the end of 1905, the Wireless Station was functioning and had established a record for sending messages to a distance of 140 miles, and receiving at 225 miles; by 1907 this record had been increased to 250 and 260 miles, respectively. A recommendation for a branch hydrographic office was made in 1905. At the same time, authority was issued by a Joint Army-Navy Board to appropriate 50 acres at Waipio peninsula and to purchase 12 acres at Bishop's Point for defensive reasons.
The officer personnel to operate and maintain this station were rather limited in numbers. It was not until 1908 that six officers were assigned to the station for permanent duty [(1) The Commandant, (2) Captain of the Yard (also C.O. of the Iroquois and Ass't to the Inspector of the 12th Lighthouse District, (3) Surgeon, (4) paymaster, (5) Paymaster's Clerk, (6) Marine commanding officer]. An insight into the problems of the Commandant is revealed in some of the correspondence of Rear Admiral Samuel W. Very. In the nineteenth endorsement to a letter by the Medical Officer requesting a typewriter, which became involved in official red tape due to an improperly filled out voucher, the Commandant indicated his responsibilities. He typed on his own personal typewriter that "all correspondence passing through the Commandant's officer here, necessarily received the personal attention of the Commandant. There is no Aide. There is no trained clerk. . . Without the personal attention of the Commandant, all correspondence and much other work would have been at a standstill. . . . The Commandant, besides doing all the typewriting and other clerical work of his own office, sending and receiving important code-cablegrams, supervising out-of-door work, attending the wants of the Fish Commission, Steamer Albatross and the needs of the officer-less crew of the Iroquois, and the entertaining of the French Commodore who was present with his flagship" was "overwhelmed with petty details which could not be delegated." As the occasion arose he would sign his correspondence not only as Commandant, but also as "Acting Civil Engineer," "Head of Department," "Captain of the Yard," and "Ordnance Officer." Rear Admiral Very's assistant, who was making a survey of Welles Harbor for the Engineer Corps of the Army when the above endorsement was written, also performed duties as Assistant Lighthouse Inspector, Inspector of Customs and of Immigration, Head of the Departments of Yards and Docks, Construction, Equipment, Ordnance, and Steam Engineering. He also discharged special functions for the Marine Corps supplies and looked after the cable station at midway. And, in addition to all these difficulties, the Admiral was embarrassed by the paucity of the library which was bequeathed him by his predecessors. "Many mercantile houses of the better class," he wrote, "place at the disposal of their manager a better supply of works of reference."
The period from 1908 to 1919 was one of steady and continuous growth of the Naval Station, Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the discouraging collapse of the drydock in 1913. The Act of 13 May 1908 authorized the enlargement and dredging of the Pearl Harbor channel and lochs "to admit the largest ships," the building of shops and supply houses for the Navy Yard, and the construction of a drydock. Work progressed satisfactorily on all projects, except the drydock. After much wrangling with Congress to secure an appropriation of over three million dollars for its construction, it was wrecked by underground pressure. it was not until August 1919, after the expenditure of approximately $5,000,000, that the project was completed. It was during this time, in August 1913, that the station was finally moved from Honolulu to its new quarters in Pearl Harbor. The physical plant was improved at the total cost of twenty million dollars by 1919 (21 August) when it was finally dedicated. Yet, with all of this money available for the development of Pearl Harbor as a first-rate Pacific base, the bureaus checked the Commandant closely on his expenditures. "We are considerably in the air here," he wrote, "as to the future of the Station, and there are things occurring which make duty here less pleasant than it has been, but we are hoping to be able to appease the Department and get into such relations as will remove the annoyance." The Department was quite active in disapproving "necessary purchases in advance of formal approval" and the Admiral's tendency to juggle accounts by dipping into maintenance appropriations to pay holiday wages to laborers when he could not have the job absorb the costs. With the collapse of the drydock, property claims to the Damon Tract and the rights of way for pipe lines vexing him, he was anxious to "convince people in Washington that we are really trying to do the best we can."
With World War I, the demands to establish Pearl Harbor as a first-class naval base capable of taking care of the entire fleet in case of war, precluded its usefulness as a commercial harbor. The hopes of the Matson Steamship Co. and the American Hawaiian Co. were smashed by this development, just as it doomed the private fishing rights of property owners along the shores of the harbor during World War II.
By 1919, the purchase of Ford Island having been completed, the Army and Navy shared the facilities of Luke Field. The embryonic aviation crew that arrived in December 1919, which included nine officers, forty mechanics and four seaplanes, became the Naval Air Station of 1920. It was under the impetus of this growth of air power that Rear Admiral W.B. Fletcher, then Commandant of the new 14th Naval District, stated that:
He suggested the building of airstrips on Necker Island, French Frigate Shoals, Layson Island and Johnston Island, a task not really accomplished until 1941-42.
The post-World War I period was characterized by a irregular growth of the Naval Operating Base. Appropriations tended to diminish with the economies of the twenties. In 1921, the Naval Station in Honolulu was forced to close because of insufficient funds. Only three training flights were allowed in the Hawaiian area during 1921. The only funds that were allotted tended more to improve the channel than to develop or enlarge the base. Although SecNav [Secretary of the Navy] reports referred to Hawaii as the "crossroads of the Pacific," nothing could be done to take advantage of its position. Lip service was the token of esteem given the hopes of expanding Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe Harbor in 1920.
The years of peace and the maintenance of the status-quo afforded the Commandant the leisure to devote some of his interests to affairs not strictly limited to the growth of the naval station. One of his primary tasks seems to have been concentrated on an attempt to get a favorable press for the Navy. The Commandant or his representative faithfully attended the monthly luncheon meetings of the Federal Business Men's Association and assisted in carrying out the functions of that organization. He or members of his staff delivered lectures, attended meetings, etc. In his reports he attempted to follow the local social, economic, and racial peculiarities of the islands, making numerous comments of his own to his superiors in Washington. In an intelligence report of 1928, the Commandant accused the Territorial Governor of playing politics on the racial issue. He felt that the Governor and his administration resented the "keen interest manifested by Army and Navy officials in the population problems of the islands. It was his opinion that prominent business men regarded the Army and Navy establishments as constituting the fourth largest industry in the islands, after sugar, pineapples, and the tourist trade.
In his Annual Report for 1933, he felt it was necessary to endeavor to improve civilian relations after the experiences of the previous year. He pointed with pride to the voluntary cooperation of the Territorial Government in the observance of Navy Day; his attendance at sessions of the Territorial Senate and Legislature where he was "cordially received;" his review and inspection of the Honolulu City and County Police Department; and his liaison with the Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, Rotary Club, etc. Yet, in spite of the overtures of good will, many civilians who were staunch supporters of the Navy could not afford to come openly to its defense. Even as late as 1935 the navy experienced difficulty in securing its reserve quota for I-V-(S) [naval Reserve designation for commissioned intelligence officers qualified for specialist duties].
An embarrassing problem that beset the Commandant in 1922 and persisted until 1927 was the question of precedence. The problem evolved when Major General Summerall questioned the seniority of Rear Admiral E. Simpson in 1922. The Admiral was perturbed and felt that protocol was endangered unless he was supported. ". . . As matters now stand," he wrote, "awkward situations are liable to arise at any time because in this small community we are continually present together at all kinds of functions at which our presence is more or less official and we have to be placed right." In his letter to the head of the Office of Operations, he expressed a hope that the Department would "put up a big fight to sustain me in my senior position." The problem raged in many manifestations for some years and resulted in at least two contradictory decisions of the Attorney General. The actual solution of the precedence of Rear Admirals of the first and second half with Major Generals or Brigadier Generals was not made until the Hill Bill was passed in 1927.
Relations with the Army and the civilian population were not benefited by the refusal to permit either to attend public boxing matches in the Navy Yard (1924). The Commandant, Rear Admiral John McDonald, felt the exhibitions were ungentlemanly because the audience booed and made disparaging remarks concerning the contestants and the referee. On one occasion, when Admiral McDonald attended, he told the audience to cease their booing and when they seemingly refused, he ordered the bouts stopped and the audience, which included civilians, as well as Army and Navy personnel, to go home. "The whole trouble at the large arena," he wrote, "was due to the conduct of the enlisted personnel from the Army and civilians from Honolulu."
By 1934, approximately $42,000,000 had been spent on the development of Pearl Harbor. Within the confines of the Navy Yard, as well as the district, were now located Minecraft, the Fleet Air Base, and the Submarine Base. When the Fleet visited Pearl Harbor that year for maneuvers, all Fleet units, except the Ranger, Lexington, and Saratoga, were berthed without difficulty. These latter three vessels were forced to anchor off the shores of southern Oahu to avoid the risk of running aground. Entrance into the Pearl Harbor lochs required large ships to back off on their screws to make the difficult turn at the end of the channel. As early as 1920 commanding officers of the Arkansas, Idaho, and Wyoming regarded the channel as difficult to navigate. From 1921 to 1928, eleven ships went aground along its sloping reefs. The appropriations of 1936 tended to remedy this defect and increase the facilities of the Navy Yard to the position of a major overhaul base on the same footing with Mare Island and Puget Sound. By 1940 appropriations for the improvement of the naval establishment had exceeded $100,000,000, with $47,000,000 spent between January and August of that year. Concomitant with this growth was a growth in naval personnel: 586 enlisted men in 1925, 703 in 1930, and 1,049 in 1936. The Commandant in 1937 felt that the naval establishment had undergone the development that the base deserved.
Although these developments of the naval establishment grew progressively, some of the shortages that characterized the World War II period were evident. Housing became scarce in Honolulu with the slowness of building construction and the increase in tourist trade (1935-1937). On the base there were only twelve quarters for officers.
With the increased importance given the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard there were certain administrative problems that were becoming quite pressing. By the organization of the Naval Operating Base in 1928, the navy yard and the district evolved as two separate organizations. Collateral duties of the Commandant, Public Works Officer and Supply Officer tied the two units together. According to General Order Number 110, the Naval Operating Base, Pearl Harbor, consisted of District Headquarters, Navy Yard, Supply Department, Submarine Base, Air Station, Ammunition Depot, Naval Hospital, Marine Barracks, Radio Station and Receiving Barracks.
One awkward problem that was considered pertinent to this operating base was the independence of the Submarine Base from the Commandant of the district. The Naval Manual of 1927 placed the Submarine Base under the command of the Commandant and directly under the command of the Commanding Officer, Inshore Patrol. However, General Order 164 removed the command of the Submarine Base from the Commandant and placed it under the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. The situation was declared "anomalous" because the Commandant's authority did not extend over all activities within the confines of the naval reservation. This was especially evident when the Submarine Base also contained the Receiving Barracks for the Navy Yard, over which the Commandant did have jurisdiction. The Commandant stated:
It was also believed that the dual side system of the Captain of the Yard and the Manager, as established by General Order Number 53, should be changed. The Commandant felt that it would be wise to revive the long-discarded title of "Executive Officer of the Navy Yard" and make him second in command to the Commandant. By making a line officer junior to the Executive with the title of "Captain of the Yard" and placing him at the head of the Military Department of the Yard, the military organization would be improved. Another perplexing issue was the position of the Supply Officer. With only twenty per cent of his issues made for the Industrial Activities, the Commandant was opposed to having him placed under the Manager of the Yard.
In 1929, the Commandant, after a year's experience, found that in order to properly perform his duties, his time was devoted 65 per cent to the district and 35 per cent to the navy yard. He stated:
On 1 November 1932, the 14th Naval District was placed under the command of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. The Commandant was "designated as the responsible representative of the Navy for dealing with his district, with agencies of other federal departments, with the local populace and civil authorities, with business and shipping interests, with the press, and in connection with visits by persons, vessels, or aircraft of foreign nationality. In all such matters, the commanders of naval units present within his district will deal with or through the district commandant." This statement actually condoned the Commandant's actions, with the exception of the last sentence, which had characterized his behavior since the establishment of the Old Naval Station. The letter, however, qualified control over "Fleet units based or present within or in the vicinity of the district under his command." The Commandant requested, without success, from CNO [Chief of Naval Operations] a clarification of his actual status to forces afloat, the Submarine Base, and the Fleet Air Base. In the organization chart for 1935, the Fleet Air Base and Submarine Base, as well as the Ammunition Depot and the Hydrographic Information Office, were described as being "not directly under the Commandant of the District." He had authority only to direct their operations in times of emergency. It was probable that these activities would be placed under his command during wartime for the purpose of coordination, particularly in the case of the Submarine Base and the Fleet Air Base, which had become units of the Naval Local Defense Forces.
It represented a situation not fully clarified until the Commandant became a subordinate of CinCPac [Commander-in Chief, Pacific] and the promulgation of General Order Number 121, placing NAS [Naval Air Station], Pearl Harbor, under his command.
An examination of the district organization of 1935 indicates a close similarity to the one that characterized the war years. The district organization was kept alive by the appointment of its limited supply of officers to collateral or additional duties. Many yard officers held collateral duties on the district staff; for example, the Industrial manager was District Material Officer, the Captain of the Yard was Port Director (N.T.S.), the Supply Officer and the Public Works Officer of the yard also served on the district staff. The District Personnel Officer and District Operations Officer were one and the same person as well as the Chief of Staff and U.S. Army Liaison Officer. It might be noted that collateral duty followed no set procedure. Collateral jobs were often the accidents of time, place, availability, and the man. As Admiral Bloch pointed out in February 1941:
In the pre-war organization plan for the district (February 1941) the differences between this island district and continental districts were emphasized.
With the unusual concentration of naval activities in the Pearl Harbor area, this pre-war organization continued the system of dual yard and district functions. The logic of such a procedure was seen in the limited personnel, the necessity of maintaining a war organization, at least on paper, and the similarity of duties. By Bureau of Navigation orders, two Navy Yard heads of departments, the Supply Officer and the Public Works Officer, were assigned additional duty on the District Headquarters Staff. The regulations, to confuse any attempt at a clear-cut definition of authority or responsibility, indicated that the staff work of these officers was to be performed "under the direction of the Commandant of the Navy Yard who is responsible to the Commandant of the District for its performance." On the district staff were some officers, also, whose functions pertained to yard or base functions, as the District Material Officer and District Civilian Personnel officer. Straddling both the yard and the district with a major emphasis on the latter were the positions of the District Operations Officer and District Personnel Officer. The District Operations Officer fulfilled a myriad number of duties that included inshore and offshore patrol, district craft, captains of the port, station ships, receiving station, etc. In this pre-war set-up, it was also indicated that the Port Director (N.T.S.), District Marine Officer, District Communications Officer, District Supply Officer, District Public Works Officer were so intimately connected with the command and coordination functions of the district Commandant that these officers were not only in full administrative command of each office, but were also members of the headquarters' staff group. When the Coast Guard came under the operation of the Navy Department in 1941, the Coast Guard District Commander was made an advisor on the staff of the Commandant. For military operation, the organization was placed under the Commander, Inshore Patrol, with logistics, supply, upkeep and internal control under the senior Coast Guard Officer.
The outbreak of World War II placed a great strain on the expanding organization of both yard and district. With the legalized separation of these two, definitions of policy and authority were needed as never before. The more pressing problem from an administrative point of view was the inter-relation or separation of functions such as supply and public works that clearly fell into both spheres. Within the course of the next year, both the Supply and Public Works Officers were to be withdrawn from the yard and only token representatives of these as district activities were left behind. The District material Office became a part of the Industrial Manager's department, leaving enough residue functions in the district to allow the unique development of the District Budget, Small Craft and Ordnance Office. With the coming of the Hawaiian Sea Frontier, the District Operations office slowly disintegrated by absorption of the Frontier and delegation of minor functions to the District Budget, Small Craft and Ordnance Office. District Civilian Personnel preferred not to function, but delegated its job to the yard because of their security and processing machinery. The District Personnel office became a single unit of its own and, by a policy of decentralization, permitted the yard to maintain its own personnel records and files. This was similar to the later tendency toward decentralization on the part of the Communications Office that also allowed a Yard Communications Office to function as its own.
While the order for the separation of the yard and district did not contribute a revolutionary idea, as both had separate paper organizations and were conscious of their individual identities, it did create some confusion. Certain activities, such as the yard itself, the Fuel Depot, the Submarine Base and the Naval Supply Depot, were contiguous activities physically connected by roads, tracks, pipelines, communications, etc., but were administratively separate and independently operated. The latter three were considered to be "district" activities because they were beyond the boundaries of the yard proper. "It is not difficult to imagine situations," wrote one officer, "whereby reference to a map or other such considerations might be necessary to determine who is to act in case of casualties or abnormal happenings." The problems presented by the jurisdiction over the water supply system, the electric power system, the facilities in the harbor and channel as moorings, terminals, etc., transportation, dispersed storage, supply and public works demanded a jurisdictional decision. When housing in Housing Areas I, II, and III, Makalapa and Aiea Barracks were placed under the Navy Yard, this somewhat clarified the confusion. The suggestion from many sources, particularly the Commandant of the Navy Yard, was to create a Naval Operating Base with unified and coordinated administration. The Public Works Officer felt that such a change was necessary to avoid "duplication and red-tape." On the other hand, the Commandant of the Yard believed that it was "not necessary to use the term Commandant of the District and Naval Operating Base because the Commandant is that now. It might be useful, on account of the Fleet Supply Base being established in such close proximity to the Yard, to have it placed under the Commandant of the Navy Yard in order to prevent duplication in transportation facilities such as railroad and truck equipment and obviate duplication and overhead of two maintenance crews for repair of buildings, roads, electricity and water. The Navy Yard Supply Officer and Officer in Charge of the Fleet Supply Depot could be under the Commandant of the Navy Yard. There could be a separate District Supply Depot, if desired, but the Fleet Supply Officer with so many of its storerooms in or near the Yard should be under the Commandant of the Yard." The District Supply Officer, however, perceived the need for a Naval Operating Base, Pearl Harbor, to coordinate the many rapidly expanding and far-flung organizations. The flag officer in charge of this base with the Commandant of the Navy Yard would assist the Senior Flag Officer ashore as his principle executives. The die, however, had been cast and the organization of the naval establishment was molding itself under the force of circumstances. The Navy Yard's military units was defined as extending to Pearl Harbor and the housing areas beyond Hickam Field, at Aiea, Makalapa and the Crater. Activities at the Submarine Base, NAS, Pearl Harbor, Fuel Depot, Naval Supply Depot, Ammunition Depot West Loch, Section Base, Bishop's Point, Sub-Section Base, Iroquois Point, the Sub-Section Base at Pearl City, Net Depot, Bishop's Point, Camp Catlin – all were separate activities under Com14 for administration and internal security, but were placed under the military control of the Pearl Harbor Group as far as their operational activities affected the defense of the Pearl Harbor area, and navigation, berthing and mooring in Pearl Harbor.
In this development of a district staff, it is important to trace the creation of the District Supply Office and its functions. When Captain John J. Gaffney reported for duty as Navy Yard Supply Officer in July 1941, he was assigned additional duties by Rear Admiral C.C. Bloch as District Supply Officer and Officer in Charge, Naval Fuel Depot. As District Supply Officer, he was the staff advisor and representative of the District Commandant on supply problems; as Officer in Charge of the Fuel Depot, he was head of an operating unit of the district; and, finally, as Yard Supply Officer, he was a subordinate of the Yard Commandant.
As long as the same person occupied the two positions as Commandant of the Distract and the Yard, this triple role did not create any difficulties. It was not long, however, before Admiral Bloch was relieved of his duties as Yard Commandant by Rear Admiral William R. Furlong. Although personal relationships were maintained on an amicable basis, the situation was one which violated good administrative practice, namely, having one man function in three capacities, one of which was subordinate to the Yard Commandant, whereas the other two were at least independent of his authority. There seems to be on evidence that the situation produced undesirable results, but it was at least capable of allowing the Supply Officer of the Yard to obtain a sought-for objective over the wishes of the Yard Commandant by his role as advisor to the District Commandant.
At the same time, it must be noted that the "unified control" thus achieved over strictly District Supply activities enabled the District Supply Officer to achieve a more efficient utilization of facilities and personnel, both of which were seriously lacking, during the early phase of the war. Through his concurrent roles as Supply Officer in Command of the Depot, the District Supply Officer was able to direct the interchange and joint use of storage facilities, equipment and military and civilian personnel.
Even after he had relinquished actual administrative control over the Supply Depot and the Yard Supply Department, the District Supply Officer continued to exercise a considerable influence in the formulation of policies to be executed by the operating units. By means of daily conferences in his office, he maintained a close supervision of actual operations, and thus ensured a uniformity in operations. In some minor instances, where the two major Supply activities made joint use of facilities and equipment, the District Supply Officer functioned somewhat in the role of arbiter or umpire to settle the inevitable disputes which seem to arise in such cases.
In spite of this seeming tendency on the part of the District Supply Officer to "run things" even though his office was nominally that of advisor to the District Commandant, the weight of evidence would indicate that he did not interfere with intra-departmental operations, but rather confined his action to coordinating inter-activity affairs and relationships. For example, in replying to a memorandum from the head of the newly created Navy Purchasing office in which the latter asked to what extent he was ". . . free to take independent, unreviewed action," the District Supply Officer stated:
Similarly, it was indicated that the War Projects Board, fearful of the possibility that special influence might be brought to bear on a Navy-operated Rationing Program, retained the right of review over the Sub-Board's action, until:
noting that several commands were responsible, in part and in varying degree, for supply functions in the Hawaiian or Central Pacific area, it would appear that the Staff Supply Officer of CinCPOA [Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Ocean Area], by virtue of his superior position in the hierarchy, should have exercised an over-all coordinative influence on the several other Supply Officers. Instead of this, however, CinCPOA's supply representative seems to have confined his role to that of long-range "planning" of supply needs in the over-all logistics program and gave little attention to the actual operations of supply activities on the district or type command levels. ComServPac's [Commander, Service Force, Pacific Fleet] supply section interpreted its role as that of operating or putting CinCPOA directives into effect. It could have exercised a unifying influence by coordinating the efforts of the district and other type command supply activities, but apparently did not choose to do so.
Although all of the air stations and facilities within the district were under the Commandant of the District in respect to physical plant, the actual task of supplying the squadrons based thereon with the aviation material was under the cognizance of ComAirPac [Commander, Air Force, Pacific Fleet]. Within the district itself, aviation supply was divided: Commander Naval Air Bases exercised Com14's authority over the physical plant and carried out directives from ComAirPac on the supplying of aviation materials which latterly are procured via the Aviation Supply Depot; the "regular" district supply activities, such as the Naval Supply Depot, working under direction of the District Supply Officer as the representative of Com14, furnished the non-aviation materials.
Another minor but illuminating example of the way in which supply services were frequently complicated by the existing command structure, occurred at Midway. In a letter to Com14, the Commanding Officer of NAS Midway declared that:
Continuing, the letter declared:
The District Supply Officer occupied an inferior position in the command structure. When he desired to relate the efforts of the supply activities on the Submarine Bases at Pearl and Midway, the Air Stations and the Aviation Supply Depot, it was necessary to channel his efforts via the District Commandant and the type commanders. This, at best, was a cumbersome and time-consuming requirement which was not always conducive to speedy decision and uniform action. As a consequence, about the only coordination of supply activities in the Hawaiian area which occurred throughout the war was that achieved among purely district activities. On some matters of minor importance, the District Supply Officer was able, through personal persuasion and prestige, to achieve intermittent successes.
A costly example of the absence of an over-all coordination of supply policy and operations was the long delay in construction and eventual relocation of the Aviation Supply Depot. Similarly, as already noted, there was a distinct failure to define the supply mission of the district, and, in addition, to provide advance information on unusually heavy Fleet demands on district supply resources. In respect to the latter, it is recognized that such information is not always available, but certainly there could have been a more determined and cooperative effort in that direction. What could have been avoided for a certainty was the insistent efforts to reduce stock levels in district supply activities while unplanned-for demands jumped sporadically without previous notice and information
The Public Works Officer underwent a similar transition during the period between the two wars. According to the Public Works reorganization in 1930, a senior C.E.C. officer was ordered by the Navy Department as Public Works Officer of the district and the yard. In his capacity as Public Works Officer of the Navy Yard, he was to be assistant to the Industrial Manager of the yard and would have complete control over all activities, including personnel, assigned to his division. Consequently, the Public Works Officer fulfilled two separate and distinct jobs. The Commandant directed that he organize his subordinates, both officer and civilian, into a closely-knit organization that could be used on either yard or district work, as the changing volume and character of the work demanded. From 1939 on, the Public Works Officer assumed his triplicate function of officer in charge of all construction, and, as a result, became directly responsible to the Chief of the Bureau of Yards and Dock in this capacity.
This tripartite division of authority created difficulties during expansion before the war, and, to a great extent, confused the separation of district and yard later. With the physical separation of the two, a Public Works Officer was assigned to the yard, and he reported to the Commandant of the Yard. The yard now had its own Public Works staff, and the district had its organization, with officers assigned to many district activities and air bases
The District Public Works Officer [DPWO], as officer in charge of fixed-fee contracts, operated independently under the Commandant, 14th Naval District, in much the same manner as did the Commandant of the Navy Yard, although the office was only temporary for the duration of the contracts.
In this capacity, before the war, the District Public Works Officer was responsible for NOy contracts in Samoa and the Philippines.
Under the general direction of the DPWO was consolidated all the design and drafting work which was to serve for all activities, including the Yard. The Yard Public Works Officer was to have free and independent access to this agency for any and all yard work.
The failure to have a clearer and more fundamental division of authority was perceived under the increase of wire or telephone facilities. These facilities necessarily were in the province of the District Communications Officer, but construction was both in the yard and at other district activities. The transfer of workers from one project to another resulted in a tug-of-war between the yard and district on the respective priorities of their projects and resulted to some extent in what was defined by the Chief of Staff as the "Telephone Mess." The Public Works Officer's task was beset by many difficulties with the completion of many construction jobs delayed by the withdrawal of the Construction Battalions. When these units were first assigned, many private contracts were abrogated before the work was given over to them. Unfortunately, the battalions were dependent on ComServPac for administration and were withdrawn at times and sent to forward area without any advanced warning. This brought a complete stop to the construction work and caused delays in renegotiating with private contractors. It was not unusual to find that the original plans and pieces of equipment disappeared with the withdrawing battalion. A unique change in the Public Works organization was the assigning to the design section the authority to draw up project plans without the approval of the Bureau of Yards and Docks.
When the yard and the district were physically separated, surveys were made of various sites in Honolulu for the geographical removal of the district headquarters. It was the theory that such a move would make the district more aloof from the yard and allow it the opportunity to solve its own problems without undue pressure. The scarcity of building materials and the unavailability of a satisfactory location in or about the confines of Honolulu defeated this proposition. However, the talk of separation and the division of authority did result in the yard, because of its unique position within the district, receiving the responsibility of looking after housing and civilian personnel.
The housing areas that were placed under the jurisdiction of the yard included Areas I, II and III for civilians, and Aiea Barracks, the Makalapa buildings, and the BOQ's within the yard proper and in the vicinity of Moanalua Ridge. Housing in such outlying areas as Lualualei or at the Naval Air Stations was under their respective commanding officers. The housing facilities were to be operated and managed by the yard for the benefit of both the yard and the district. With the great influx of workers in 1942 and 1943, the Commandant of the Yard felt that the only way to conserve housing for his civilian workers in the face of an increase in the number of district civilian workers was to arbitrarily limit the number of accommodations for the latter group. The yard had now become covetous of its housing and tended to forget the growing needs of the district. It became necessary, as a result, for the Commandant of the District to change this restrictive policy and establish a perc! ! entage rule for the yard to follow. It was one of the major post-war plans of the district to reclaim its control over the housing, but its designs were defeated by the Farber Board reforms for the Naval Operating Base, Pearl Harbor.
Since its establishment, the Navy Yard has always been the employer of the greatest number of civilian workers within the 14th Naval District. When war broke out, it had a highly developed organization for recruiting, processing and assigning civilian workers coming from the mainland and from local sources. Although there was a District Civilian Personnel Officer [DCPC] in existence prior to the war, it was a collateral position. Rather than change or disrupt the yard's machinery, the DCPC went out of existence. The policy that the district followed was to make requests of the yard for civilian personnel. When the civilian shortages became more pronounced, there was a feeling on the part of many district activities that the yard was not allotting a fair shore of recruits to them. The District Supply Officer and some of the naval air activities were quite pointed in their criticisms, and the yard was just as adamant that it was doing an equitable job. To further aggravate the situation, many mainland recruits objected to working anywhere but the yard. Many terminated their contracts when they found that, although they were employed by the Navy yard, they were sent to outlying islands in the district or remote stations on Oahu. The high pressure stateside advertising of Hawaii that was utilized by civil service agencies tended to give a false impression of wartime working conditions.
When the coordinating office of District Civilian Personnel Director was founded in 1944, it created a dislocation of functions and responsibilities. The new directives were misleading and loosely interpreted. The yard resented the surrender of many of its prerogatives, and it took some time before this new difference of views was ironed out. The Director, in attempting to pursue his task, met with what he believed to be unwarranted opposition. The major interest of the Director was centered, however, in promoting an increase in recruits and handling the selective service status of civilians already employed. He found it necessary to send a representative to Mare Island, where a previous Pearl Harbor representative was already working. For some time the coordination and formulation of civilian policy was diffused. It required more than a usual share of salesmanship to circulate all functions.
Another problem that pertained to the district and was bequeathed to the yard because of its facilities was that of transportation. Arrangements were made with the Oahu Railway and Land Co. and the local bus company to aid in transporting workers between the district and the yard. The "Leaping Tuna" buses were built from salvaged Army equipment to alleviate some of the transportation strain. In 1942, the District Transportation Coordinator, with additional duty as assistant to the War Plans Officer and District Ordnance, Budget, and Small Craft, came into being as a routine form-filling agency. As the island and mainland transportation problem increased, SecNav established in 1943 the Domestic Transportation Office. This office for the first time granted authority to the district for the control of essential transportation. Unfortunately, for fourteen months after this office came into being, it was not held by an experienced administrator conversant with the transportation problem. When this did occur, the situation improved. Conscious attempts were made to obtain buses from the mainland with ODT support and the exact needs of the district were formulated. Two district activities, the District Personnel Office and the District Communications Office, decentralized their work under the pressure of war. The District Personnel Office allowed the Yard and the Hawaiian Sea Frontier to keep their own personnel sections. Within the Frontier, transfers between vessels were carried on without any notice being sent to the district. On certain occasions, both the Yard and the Frontier carried their personnel problems directly to ComServPac without the District Personnel Officer's permission. When such violation of the chain of command occurred, the erring party would be severely rebuked by the Commandant of the District. The DPO in 1944 also became the district arbiter over the allotment of athletes under the Tunney program to the various activities for the enhancement of their sporting teams. The District Communications Office, on the other hand, allowed independent communicating facilities to the Hawaiian Sea Frontier, MerCo, NAS, Pearl Harbor, and the Navy Yard. Over-crowded facilities and the absence of a centralized communications building were factors in this decision. Dispersion for protection against a possible enemy attack was only a secondary reason. This office also looked after the Issuing Office for official publications, the Post Office which cared for both the Fleet and the District, and the Wire Facilities Division that supervised the telephone services.
It was not until the war's outbreak that the Port Director assumed a more important role. One of the things that remained to be solved was whether the Port Director should remain a member of the District Staff or be transferred to the Hawaiian Sea Frontier [HawSeaFron]. The Assistant Chief of Staff, HawSeaFron, felt that because the convoy and routing functions of the Port Director were so intimately intertwined with those of the Frontier, ComHawSeaFron should control it. The Port Director, as a result, was on the Frontier staff for about a month (September-October, 1942). In an off-the-record letter to Washington, he secured the necessary authority to withdraw. By this withdrawal a compromise ensued which placed him again on the District Staff, but gave him additional duty as Convoy and Routing Officer in the Frontier organization.
The Port Director, with a large organization located in the Navy Yard and branches in Honolulu and the more important island ports, found his authority limited by the broader plans of CinCPac. He followed the rules and areas determined by CinCPac on the limitation of fishing rights. Any changes in details made by the Port Director had to receive the approval of the highest echelons. When the Joint Overseas Shipping Control Office (JOSCO) was established, this office, in effect, took over the determination of departure schedules leaving the Port Director the minor role of issuing the sailing instructions. During 1942, each island port had an assistant Port Director, which office was later assigned to the Captain of the Port. To the chagrin of the Coast Guard, however, an Assistant Port Director remained in the Port of Honolulu throughout the war, duplicating to some extent Coast Guard activities.
By directives from Washington, the District Intelligence Office added three different activities to the district's roster of independent activities: Censorship, Public Relations, and Security. Censorship became a joint enterprise with the Army and functioned smoothly in the downtown district of Honolulu. Public Relations carried on as before and fulfilled its role of advertising the Navy by giving routine news releases to local and mainland newspapers. District Security assumed the responsibilities for passive safety measures. Plant security was controlled by the Army, with the Navy devoting its attention to its own establishment. By December 1944, each activity had a security office, and the Commandant felt that the District Security Office could be abolished. CNO acceded to the request, but ordered the district to give the position as a collateral duty to some other office. Consequently, the District Fire Marshal became also the District Security Officer, as well.
The Hawaiian Sea Frontier (HawSeaFron) did not actually come into a settled form until September 1942. The Assistant Chief of Staff (HawSeaFron) attempted to mold the organization to a degree similar to the Western Sea Frontier. The difficulty of selecting a site for the joint Operating Center delayed his plans. Originally, it was planned to have a district headquarters in Honolulu, with a part of the building devoted to the Frontier headquarters. When the plan did not prove feasible, it was decided to take two and a half tunnels at the Aliamanu Crater. Because of the limitations of space and the distance from the Commandant's headquarters, the location did not become more than an operational center. Since the Crater was on Army property, the construction of a Joint Operating Center with a major plot was never accomplished because of the fluctuations of the war and difficulties over appropriations. One service did not desire to build and pay more than its share of expenses from its limited appropriations for the benefit of another service. The Frontier suffered because of its unique location to CinCPac and its sprawling auxiliary, ComServPac. These two echelons determined the number of vessels under its control as well as the complements of manpower. In cases of emergency, units of the Fleet took over convoy and anti-submarine patrols. Just as its surface units were controlled by higher echelons, so also were its air units by ComAirPac. The major functions of the Hawaiian Sea Frontier were the maintenance of picket ships outside Pearl Harbor and the Port of Honolulu, the escorting of inter-island shipping, and the establishment of air-sea rescue facilities.
From consideration of some of the above points, the influence of CinCPac as a reviewing and arbitrating agent can be seen. It was the endorsement of CinCPac that changed the selective service regulations, that secured additional buses to relive a serious congestion of transportation facilities, that passed decisions on the approved projects of the district logistical boards, that determined the routes and aspects of the shipping instructions of the Port Director. District communications were actually a Fleet auxiliary. ComServPac controlled the administration of personnel and ships allotted to the Hawaiian Sea Frontier more and more as time went on. It was only natural that this latter arrangement should be fraught with many confusing implications. ComServPac would, on occasion, in desiring transfers of personnel, contact the HawSeaFron and neglect the District Personnel Officer. Construction Battalions would be assigned high priority projects within the district, and certain activities, on their advent, would cancel civilian construction contracts – then, without warning to the district or the activity, ComServPac would withdraw its SeaBees and ship them to forward areas, leaving the construction work high and dry. Project delays, loss of contracting plans and designs, etc., were the natural results of such a lack of planning. Uniquely, the disjointed overall supply mission of ComServPac caused it to follow the lead of the District Supply Officer. Despite criticisms of stock levels on the part of ComServPac and the Wright Board, the long-view planning of the district created a reservoir of supplies that were thankfully received when forward area demands warranted rapid replenishment.
C. W. Barnum and Daryl Lytton
Hawaii USGenWeb State Coordinator Maggie Stewart - email