Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
OpanaPointer
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Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by OpanaPointer » 30 Mar 2021 15:05

Before the Japanese embarked on the Great Pacific War the British Government requested that the US move its Pacific Fleet to the Philippines to help cover Singapore and Malaya in general. Was Cavite and any other USN facilities better than Pearl? Would the infrastructure have to be built up to much greater degree than existed at the time?
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Takao
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Re: Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by Takao » 30 Mar 2021 21:01

Was that before or after the British requested that the US Pacific Fleet move to Singapore?

No other outlying facilities were better than Pearl. Pearl was exempted from the Washington Naval Treaty, and Cavite was not. As such, there was little in the way of modernization or upgrades performed on Cavite. The facilities that existed were those that existed in the very early 20's or of similar capacity - Out dated facilities could be rebuilt, but capacity could not be increased.

There was way to much to build in way to short a time to turn Cavite into Pearl - especially that the Philippines were being spun off in not to long a time.

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Re: Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by cstunts » 30 Mar 2021 22:24

There was never a serious belief by the US that Cavite could be so utilized in a timely manner. 16th Naval District was, to put it bluntly, a mess; incredibly hidebound, lethargic, and inefficient. Known to be a dumping ground for sub-par personnel. Defensive arrangements from Olongapo to Mariveles to Cavite to Manila itself were entirely inadequate. (The Navy had argued for 20+ yrs over whether or not to relocate the big DEWEY floating drydock from Olongapo to Manila Bay, and could never even make that relatively minor decision...so the notion of creating a large, vastly expanded fleet base there cannot be taken at face-value.)

The one superior & critically important aspect of Manila Bay was Hart's so-called "Purple Gang" on Corregidor. By the standards of that period, they were a top-notch group doing v. good intell work.

However, ADM Hart knew it was not possible realistically to hold Manila Bay in 1940-41, but of course no one understood properly how quickly the Japanese were going to move, or with what forces.
The general idea later IIRC was to use Cavite/Manila as fwd base for our subs, but to have the bulk of the Asiatic Fleet fall back on Singapore and work w/the Royal Navy.
Of course the Americans did not really want to do that either.
FWIW, the situation w/regards to US-GB commitments at that time still remains one of considerable obscurity, it seems to me. US official unwillingness to make a firm commitment was reflected in Hart's sharp argument with Tom Phillips on the AF's deployment w/the RN at Manila shortly before PH. When the news came (during those talks) of allied air recon patrols spotting the Japanese invasion convoys heading south, Hart relented, but somewhat grudgingly even then. He kept telling Phillips that he ought to have utilized the other British DDs from Hong Kong with Force Z, etc.

Eventually--but still much too late--Washington decided to have Hart withdraw the AF south to the NEI and Darwin NAT...It wasn't his choice.
To their credit, they had also determined in late 1940 that NOK and dependents needed to go home early, too. Hart took the heat for that highly unpopular move, but it was actually Washington's decision.

As a related point, after taking over as CINCAF, Hart had been tasked by the Navy & Administration to find a possible alternate large fleet anchorage well to the south, and had decided on TuTu bay at Jolo Island. Naturally, the war's outbreak stopped any such thinking along those lines.

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Re: Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by OpanaPointer » 30 Mar 2021 22:41

So evidently the suggestion shifted from "Get thee to Manila" to "Singapore is lovely this time of the century"? A reference on the Singapore invitation would be lovely but no at all urgent. Cheers.
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Takao
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Re: Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by Takao » 30 Mar 2021 23:46

OpanaPointer wrote:
30 Mar 2021 22:41
So evidently the suggestion shifted from "Get thee to Manila" to "Singapore is lovely this time of the century"? A reference on the Singapore invitation would be lovely but no at all urgent. Cheers.
War Plan Orange: The US Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945 by Edward S Miller
See Chapter 22
Early in 1941 the U.S. Navy was offered the chance to fulfill its ancient
craving for a great fortified base in the Orient. In September 1940 a Royal Navy
commission had recommended that His Majesty’s government urge America to
deter Japanese aggression and “safeguard our joint interests” by positioning its
fleet deeper in the Pacific, “say at Singapore.” The United States, it thought,
would be delighted.71
71. To First Sea Lord, Rept of Comm on Nav Cooperation w USN in event USA entering the war, 11 Sep
40, Corrigendum 20 Sep 40, Section Adm Bailey’s Comm, roll 5, Scholarly Microfilms. In June 1939
the British ambassador had met with Leahy and Ghormley to explore sending the U.S. fleet to
Singapore; they refused to discuss it in detail. Lowenthal, Leadership and Indecision, 1:132.

Stated in several other works, but the was the most easily accessible.

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Re: Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by OpanaPointer » 31 Mar 2021 13:09

Thanks.
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