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

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

Post by daveshoup2MD » 02 Feb 2022 07:59

OpanaPointer wrote:
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. 1) 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?
1) No. Cavite was a minor naval station and had been since 1898. No US president, from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin Roosevelt, chose to waste resources trying to make it more than that. The US strategic perimeter in the Pacific was Alaska-Hawaii-Panama, for obvious reasons.
2) Yes. In fact, it would have had to have been built up to an unparalleled degree, and (in 1941) with civilian personnel; the Seabees didn't exist yet. Neither did the USN's fleet train or service force (comparable to what was necessary to create a forward fleet base in the Western Pacific in 1944-45) or even the merchant marine necessary to support such an effort.

The British "invitation" to base the US Pacific Fleet in Singapore was ridiculous; given the realities of the war in 1941, neither country had the merchant shipping to spare to sustain such a deployment.

The US had written off the Western Pacific colonies in 1922-23, and for good reason - once Japan industrialized, and had the ability to sustain its own forces from domestic sources, Japan held all the cards in the Western Pacific - as was demonstrated quite clearly in 1904-05 and 1914-18.

Pretending otherwise was just that.

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

Post by OpanaPointer » 02 Feb 2022 14:01

Who was pretending what, please.

Rainbow 5 would be relevant? http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/misc/rainbow5.html

Edited to add: http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/pt_14/x15-049.html (ABC-1 Talks.)
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Re: Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by rcocean » 02 Feb 2022 17:46

Cavite could have been brought up to "Snuff" if it had made sense to do so. However, given that the Fleet couldn't be guarded against suprise attack at Pearl harbor, putting them at Cavite would made them an even easier target.

Further, to provide them air cover would've meant expanding & the improving the airfields. Making the harbor usable for the Pacific Fleet, would've meant transporting large amounts of Oil to the Philippines and establishing an "Oil Farm" and establishing PH type repair facilities.

Given that FDR had "Written off" the Philippines prior to July 1941, this never would've been done. In the fall of 1940, Admiral Richardson had already pointed out the Fleet was a "Sitting Duck" at Pearl Harbor and basing it at PH created problems in Fleet training and personnel morale. FDR fired him for sayng it.

Putting the fleet in Cavite would've been impossible.

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

Post by OpanaPointer » 02 Feb 2022 17:50

Richardson never claimed the fleet was in jeopardy there. At least not while Congressional Investigations were going on. Under oath he said that his only complaint was about logistics and recreation. AFTER he was no longer under oath he told a different story. On The Treadmill to Pearl Harbor is an entertaining read, but it should shelved in the fiction area.
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Re: Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 02 Feb 2022 19:08

My grandmother grew up across Bacoor Bay from Cavite Naval Base - until recently you could see it from the family home. Her grandfather worked there, btw, first for the Spanish then for the Americans. Her grandmother lost an arm to a stray American bomb meant for IJN-occupied Cavite.

I've taken little boats around the area and am fairly certain it's not of sufficient depth to accommodate deep draft warships - fine for submarines and light vessels though. In the surrounding waters there are many bamboo-pole improvised fishing platforms that, given their poor construction, do not reflect deepwater engineering technology.

Subic and Mariveles Bays are the more feasible candidates for basing large naval units.
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Re: Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by OpanaPointer » 02 Feb 2022 19:14

Lots of good info. This is why I point to this forum so much.
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Re: Cavite superior to Pearl, or could be built up to snuff?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 03 Feb 2022 02:31

OpanaPointer wrote:
02 Feb 2022 14:01
Who was pretending what, please.

Rainbow 5 would be relevant? http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/misc/rainbow5.html

Edited to add: http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pha/pt_14/x15-049.html (ABC-1 Talks.)
Pretending that once Japan had industrialized and could deploy and sustain expeditionary forces of significance in the Western Pacific, their decision to open hostilities could be prevented by a sufficient American investment in peacetime to hold Guam and the Philippines in the event of war. Everybody from Teddy to Franklin understood that, and it was US doctrine from 1922-23 onwards...
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 03 Feb 2022 02:42, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by daveshoup2MD » 03 Feb 2022 02:35

rcocean wrote:
02 Feb 2022 17:46
Cavite could have been brought up to "Snuff" if it had made sense to do so. However, given that the Fleet couldn't be guarded against suprise attack at Pearl harbor, putting them at Cavite would made them an even easier target.

Further, to provide them air cover would've meant expanding & the improving the airfields. Making the harbor usable for the Pacific Fleet, would've meant transporting large amounts of Oil to the Philippines and establishing an "Oil Farm" and establishing PH type repair facilities.

Given that FDR had "Written off" the Philippines prior to July 1941, this never would've been done. In the fall of 1940, Admiral Richardson had already pointed out the Fleet was a "Sitting Duck" at Pearl Harbor and basing it at PH created problems in Fleet training and personnel morale. FDR fired him for sayng it.

Putting the fleet in Cavite would've been impossible.
Every U.S. president going back to Warren Harding had written off the PI, and arguably going back to Teddy Roosevelt. Once Japan had industrialized, the Japanese held the cards in the Western Pacific in any realistic correlation of forces.

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

Post by daveshoup2MD » 03 Feb 2022 02:41

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
02 Feb 2022 19:08
My grandmother grew up across Bacoor Bay from Cavite Naval Base - until recently you could see it from the family home. Her grandfather worked there, btw, first for the Spanish then for the Americans. Her grandmother lost an arm to a stray American bomb meant for IJN-occupied Cavite.

I've taken little boats around the area and am fairly certain it's not of sufficient depth to accommodate deep draft warships - fine for submarines and light vessels though. In the surrounding waters there are many bamboo-pole improvised fishing platforms that, given their poor construction, do not reflect deepwater engineering technology.

Subic and Mariveles Bays are the more feasible candidates for basing large naval units.
Very insightful.

In fact, Subic WAS the chosen location for the USN's main base in the PI - until the Filipinos made one of the more questionable strategic decisions imaginable for a poor country in the Western Pacific, even after the Cold War.

https://www.nytimes.com/1991/12/28/worl ... c-bay.html

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