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THE Pacific Ocean is 68,634,000 square miles of blue, dun and yellow water; of wastes where almost no life exists; of islands where life, riche s, poverty are all super abundant.
Biggest of oceans, it is big enough to swallow all the land in the world and still have room to spare. Its distances dwarf any that even big-minded Yankees are used to thinking1 about: New York is 3132 miles from San Francisco; Manila is 6238 miles from San Francisco, 9393 miles west of Panama. Pacific distances are important to the U.S. navy. A naval officer who knows them and their meaning better than the lines in his palm is Admiral James Otto Richardson. As a young midshipman, Texas born 'Joe' Richardson got his naval baptism charting the waters around the Philippines; not the least of the qualities which speeded his rise to high command was his thorough knowledge of Pacific oceanography and topo graphy. At 61, homely, unofficious, friendly Joe -Richardson is Com mander-in-Chief, U.S. fleet — and, by navy verdict, the best Cincus since showy, well-loved Rear Admiral Joseph Mason Reeves (1934-36). RECENTLY, Admiral Rich ardson was somewhere in the Pacific with the fleet. Just where, was a navy secret. Also a secret was the number
and nature of the ships he had with him. He probably had: 12 battle ships (including his flagship Pennsylvania) — a main battle line which has no match in the world for gunpower; 13 light cruisers, 12 heavy cruisers, about 70 destroyers, 25 submarines, four aircraft-carriers, and a highly
efficient air force to screen and precede the dreadnoughts. Wherever Joe Richardson was, he was sure to be smoking his pipe, playing penny-a-point crib bage. And it was a safe bet that he was manoeuvring his formid able armada at some place nearer his base at Pearl Harbour than to the South China sea, where Japan was up to no good. FROM 'Uncle Joe' down to the rawest rating, the men and officers of the U.S. fleet swear they could lick Japan's navy. In full dress sea fight they ought to. But in the quiet watches, the bravest must remember Alfred Thayer Mahan's dictum: that a navy is composed of men, ships and bases. (Admiral Mahan, the high priest of modern navies, died before air power began to con fuse sea power). What the U.S. navy lacks in the Western Pacific, Japan has: a sufficient line of bases. And the key to the bases is distance. Mightily fortified Pearl Har bour in Hawaii is the only U.S. base west of San Diego (Califor nia) where the main fleet could be sheltered, fuelled, repaired in war time. The waters where the U.S. would have to fight an offensive war in the Pacific are Japan's waters — 4500 to 6000 perilous miles beyond Pearl Harbour. That is too far for the main fleet to go, fight, return; its prac
ticable battle racL. i (with due allowance for cruising and com bat manoeuvres), is 2500 to 2700 miles from its base. SUCH is the elemental, geographic rule which U.S. navy minds have to ponder. They know what the rule of Pacific distance means for them. They cannot count on the kind of war for which their fleet is designed: one in which the tre mendous line of battleships has a fair chance to meet and crush the enemy. Another kind of war would be more likely. Cruisers, aircraft, submarines would use the main fleet as a floating base, raid Japan's trade and naval lines. That would be a long, negative and costly war, would require a stupendous naval effort. If it chose, the U.S.A. could certainly make the effort, in the end would probably win, HP HE political strategy of JL the U.S.A. has not been, however, to beat Japan at sea. It has been to keep the fleet in position so that Japan could not risk overseas adventure. Withdraw the fleet to tlie At
lantic and the U.S.A. may soon begin tosee the conquests that its fleet has hitherto forestalled without fighting. Already the costs of that with drawal have been counted. The U.S.A. with its half-based fleet in the Pacific might have to pay the costs anyhow Japan well knows that with the U.S. fleet in the Atlantic, the U.S. would have to pay off: (1) It will not be possible to defend the Philippines. Japan wants Indo-China and the Dutch East Indies first, can afford to wait until the Philippines become independent in 1946. (2) In China, before Japan moved in, the U.S.A. had a £50, 000,000 investment, an annual trade worth about as much. This is already lost in fact and the rest of it would doubtless soon go. (3) From British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies the U.S.A. gets 85.9 per cent, of its crude rubber (plus 4.5 per cent, from French Indo-China), 78.4 per cent of its tin. The U.S.A. must have rubber and tin, has no where else to go for the amount it needs, has failed to lay in stocks. If Japan takes the Indies the supply might still be open to the U.S.A. on Japan's terms. Basis for this hope is: (a) Japan's desperate need of foreign exchange, which has always come largely from trade with the U.S.A.; (b) Japan's mortal fear of war with the U.S.A. — which the U.S.A. might have to fight, willy-nilly, if its rubber-and-tin lifeline were actually cut. No body would dislike that war more than the Japanese officers under Vice- Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto; they have a great liking and re spect for the U.S. Navy. (4) Australia might well fall within the Japanese sweep. An nual profit to the U.S.A. from trade with Australia: £9,000,000. (5) Best U.S. customer in the Pacific, only one worth fighting for in a trade war, is Japan. In three years (1937-38-39) , the U.S.A sold Japan £153,907,000 worth of goods, bought £98,443, 000 worth from Japan. However, this lop-sided trade is not nor mal; of what the U.S.A. sold to Japan, more than half was war material (oil, scrap iron, other metals) for Japan's war on China. (Continued on Page 7)
The United States has been Japan's greatest source of war materials for the war on China. But this week the New York Times said, uneasily: 'It is plainly to the advan tage of Americans to keep Japan tied down in China instead of freeing x her to strike against our own in terests in the Pacific, or at the interests of the British.'
Giving you U.S. Pacific strategy at a glance, it may be useful in future.