NAVY DEPARTMENT OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS WASHINGTON MEMORANDUM TO THE PRESIDENT Subject: Inspection trip to the Canal Zone, Galapagos, and Cocos, March 6-28, 1942. Enclosure: (A) Track Chart of Air Patrols. (B) Diagram. (C) Photos. 1. In accordance with orders, I have visited the following:- Balboa, C.Z. -- Headquarters of Caribbean Defense Command, and of Fifteenth Naval District. Coco Solo, C.Z. -- Naval Air Station, Submarine Base. Galapagos -- Army and Navy Advance Air Bases. Salinas, Ecuador --- Army and Navy Advance Air Bases. Cocos Island-- Future Base for Motor Torpedo Boats. Gulf of Fonseca -- Navy Sea-plane Base. Guatemala City -- Army Advance Air Base. All travel was by air. At every place visited I conferred with the senior officers present and in addition I sought facts and opinions from all reliable sources. I submit herewith briefly my conclusions:-
SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONSParamount Duty The most important present task of the Army and Navy in the Canal Zone is to defeat any attempted bombing attack on the Panama Canal. Such an attack from the Pacific side most probably would come from enemy carriers, launching their planes during bright moonlight and at a distance up to possibly 700 miles from the Canal. Dangers from submarine raids are secondary.
Paramount Duty (continued) To insure the defeat of such a bombing attack, the enemy carriers must be discovered during daylight of the day preceding the attempted assault. This means, roughly, in the area between the 800 mile and the ll00 mile circles. See diagram. The patrolling of this vast expanse of ocean can only be done effectively by long range planes. Consequently the maintenance of this patrol on the Panama Sea Frontier is the most vital part of the war effort of the Army and Navy forces in the Canal Zone. Army. -- Under the aggressive leadership of Lieutenant General F. M. Andrews, USA, Commanding General, Caribbean Defense Command, the Army is doing a fine job. The personnel from top to bottom is grimly earnest and alive to the realities of the war situation and the importance of the tasks assigned to them. Navy. -- The Navy's war efforts, in some respects, have been sluggish because of lack of virile leadership. Lack of effective cooperation with the Army was evident. Rear Admiral F. H. Sadler, USN, Commandant, Fifteenth Naval District, has been ordered relieved of his command. His successor, Rear Admiral Clifford Van Hook, USN, is an able, younger officer who has proven his ability to cooperate with the Army. Aviation. -- The organization of Naval aviation activities in the Fifteenth Naval District is neither logical nor workable. Recommendations made by me to the present Commandant were summarily rejected by Admiral Sadler on the grounds - among others - that to accept them would aid the Army in its alleged plot to gain and retain control of Naval aviation. Admiral Van Hook will correct this situation immediately upon taking command. It is a pleasure to report that the high efficiency and splendid cooperation of Patrol Wing Three and its dynamic commander, Commander Arthur Gavin, USN, were highly praised by Generals Andrews, Johnson and Lyons.
Aviation (continued) The Army Air Force also is on its toes. However, its tremendous expansion has necessarily diluted the skilled personnel to a greater extent than is yet the case in Naval aviation, and, in consequence, the Army is experiencing more difficulties in maintenance and upkeep. ADVANCE AIR BASES. Cocos. -- Except for being sighted twice daily by patrol planes, no surveillance over, or use of Cocos was in effect when I arrived. As of today, a striking force of four submarines is basing for patrol intervals of two weeks on Cocos. Also, 8 tuna boats are now stationed on a North-South line just west of Cocos to serve as aircraft warning posts. About July 1st a squadron of motor torpedo boats with a tender will be stationed at Cocos. By July 1st the Army expects to have in operation a long range Radar installation on Cocos, and this will carry with it a radio set and personnel so that there will then be a small shore-based force on the Island. Navy aviators were unanimous in their opinions that seaplanes could not be based at Cocos except at irregular intervals. From my personal experience I concur in this opinion. Galapagos. -- By May 1st the Army will have a fully fortified and equipped Advance Air Base on Seymour Island with approximately 1500 troops, one squadron of "Flying Fortresses" and one squadron of pursuit planes. Small dispersion air fields on other islands are under consider- ation by the Army. The Navy bungled its job in setting up a Seaplane Base on North Seymour Island. However, I persuaded the Commandant to discard his original plan and to take steps to get the Navy base properly and promptly implemented. By July 1st there will be facilities to support the operations of two squadrons of PBY's at the Navy base. A converted destroyer now serves as tender. The Navy also plans to install a fuel oil depot, probably on Charles Island, so that cruisers, and destroyers on convoy or patrol duty can top-off their fuel tanks without returning to Balboa.
Galapagos (continued) Two long range Radar installations will be made on other islands in the Galapagos. It is planned to base one squadron of motor torpedo boats with tender in the Galapagos by May 1st. In view of the air patrols now in effect which cover parts of the Archipelago every day, the further air patrols to be inaugurated upon the completion of the Air Bases on Seymour Island, the basing in the Galapagos in the near future of a squadron of 12 motor torpedo boats, and the installing of two Radar stations (with radio), there appears to be no urgent need of lookout posts on shore or the employment of fishing craft to supplement the present surveillance. Salinas, Ecuador. -- The Army is building an Advance Air Base to support two squadrons of "Flying Fortresses" and two pursuit squadrons. The work is well advanced: there are nearly 1000 troops there now, 6 inch guns are mounted; there is a Radar installation, and 8 heavy bombers and 8 pursuit ships are operating regularly from this Base. The Navy's Seaplane Base will not be completed until June at which time two squadrons of PBY's can be handled. In the meantime, a converted destroyer serves as a seaplane tender at Salinas. Gulf of Fonseca -- The Navy has established a small Seaplane Base here that can serve as an over-right refueling stop. Further development must be done to make this a secondary operating base for either seaplanes or motor torpedo boats. Guatemala City. -- The Army is enlarging the airport there, and is now operating 12 heavy bombardment type planes and 8 observation and pursuit planes from this field, An emergency landing field for the Army's use is being built at San Jose on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. AIR PATROL OPERATIONS -- At present the air patrol in the Panama Sea Frontier, Pacific Sector, is being carried on by 24 Navy PBY's and 20 Army B-17's and LB-30s.
AIR PATROL OPERATIONS (Continued) 8 Navy planes and 7 Army planes are on patrol every day as shown on attached track chart. The Army states that not less than 70 planes of the B-17 or PBY types are needed to maintain an effective patrol. During the next 6 months the Army is scheduled to receive at Panama an additional 29 such planes and the Navy 12. The Army hopes to have additional heavy bombers to use as a striking force and for training purposes. The Navy is seeking large landplanes to use in lieu of flying boats. There is no doubt of the superiority of the B-17 type over the PBY type and it would seem logical to provide the Naval aviators with some landplanes so that the best planes could be utilized by the men best trained to operate over the ocean. MOTOR TORPEDO BOATS -- There is one squadron of motor torpedo boats now based in the Perlas Islands. When this squadron's tender, the USS NIAGARA, arrives this month the squadron will be moved out to the Galapagos. Additional squadrons with tenders are expected during the next few months and will be stationed at Cocos, Salinas, and the Gulf of Fonseca. These squadrons will constitute a powerfully effective and speedy striking force on the Panama Sea Frontier for use particularly against enemy carriers at night. Respectfully
Paul F. Foster, Commander, U.S.N.R.
AIRPLANE COMMANDER'S REPORTUnit________________ Date________________ 1. Indicate on map on reverse side point and time of take off and landing, track of airplane to include latitude, longitude, and time of all turning points, hourly positions, positions of air and surface craft sighted, bad weather areas, and mean altitude of each leg of track. 2. Were messages sent or received? __________ Attach copies of all messages. 3. In event of combat action, submit detailed report to include injuries and damage received and inflicted on enemy, ammunition expended, performance, characteristics and tactics of enemy. See Form F, Field Manual 1-40. NARRATIVE ACCOUNTS WILL BE MADE HEREON OF THE FOLLOWING: 4. Observations enroute description, position, and time of all surface and air craft seen. 5. General weather conditions. Show bad weather areas and resultant change of course on map. 6. Difficulties experienced. 7. Remarks. Use additional sheets if necessary. Signed__________________________________ Airplane Commander
Reconnaissance and Patrol Missions