The United States Navy is the naval arm of the United States military, created in 1794.
Several ships in Pearl Harbor were trapped when the harbor mouth was blocked by sunken ships that had attempted to sortie. Thus, while the ships of the Pacific Fleet remained intact, they were powerless to contest the Japanese naval forces in Hawaiian waters. Functionally, the majority of the US Pacific Fleet was destroyed on 7 December. During the invasion some of the remaining functioning ships in Pearl Harbor provided fire support for the United States Army and Marines fighting on Oahu. In addition, during the final part of the Oahu campaign, sailors fought as infantrymen, suffering heavy casualties due to their lack of training in ground combat. Courage and tenacity was no match for the battle-hardened Imperial Japanese Army, as shown during the fighting for Pearl City.
As for the valuable fleet carriers of the Pacific Fleet, the USS Enterprise and several of her escorts were sunk by the Japanese on December 7. Their planes attacked the enemy valiantly, but their efforts were in vain. US aircraft and fighter tactics were inferior to those of the Japanese. In addition, the USS Lexington was sunk in a different action in Hawaiian waters. The loss of two of the three carriers in the Pacific was a stunning blow to US morale.
In early 1942, the USS Saratoga was the only carrier remaining in the Pacific Fleet. To make up for this, the USS Hornet and the USS Yorktown, along with their escorts and a large portion of the US Atlantic Fleet were transferred to the Pacific Fleet. During the attempted US invasion of Oahu in 1942, both the Saratoga and the Yorktown were sunk and the Hornet was heavily damaged and had to limp back to the American mainland. Losses among their escorts ranged from moderate to heavy. In addition, nearly all of the pilots assigned to the three carriers were lost. The battle was a stunning defeat for the US Navy.
With only one fleet carrier remaining in the Pacific Fleet, and that one carrier being heavily damaged, US hopes for the liberation of Hawaii were dashed. However, 1943 would be a year of hope for the US Navy. The first of the Essex class carriers were finally coming off of the lines and into the fleet. Along with the USS Essex and the USS Bunker Hill, there were two other Essex class carriers that were commissioned in 1943. In addition, the Independence class light carrier began to join the fleet as well. While smaller and able to carry less aircraft than a fleet carrier, the light carriers nonetheless were able to pack a punch. And, last but not least, escort carriers were added to the US Navy's arsenal. Slow, converted merchantmen they may have been built on. But, they still were able to carry thirty-some aircraft into battle.
In addition to the carriers being built, the fleet was joined by fast battleships, cruisers both heavy and light, and swarms of destroyers. Sheer numerical superiority was the order of the day. It was hoped that outnumbering the enemy two or three to one would be enough to secure victory.
This theory was proven during the successful US Invasion of Hawaii in 1943. Seven carriers made up the core of the task force, four Essex class CVs, and three Independence class CVLs. In addition, there were a number of escort carriers, as well. Escorts for this task force included battleships, cruisers, and destroyers, their numbers in the dozens. The Japanese task force defending Hawaii was no match for the new Pacific Fleet, being grossly outnumbered. Their airmen fought boldly, damaging a fleet carrier and sinking a light carrier, but they were slaughtered like lambs by vengeful US fighters. The ships that survived the ferocious US air strike fled Hawaiian waters completely, giving the US near total control of Hawaiian waters.
After the liberation of Hawaii, the Pacific Fleet prepared to move westwards. Their next objective was the liberation of Midway Island.
Carriers in the Pacific Fleet in 1943 include the repaired USS Hornet, USS Wasp, USS Ranger, USS Essex, USS Bunker Hill, and at least two more Essex class fleet carriers. In addition, there were several Independence class light carriers. Along with the fast carriers, there were escort carriers built on transport ship hulls.
There were a number of battleships in the Pacific Fleet, of the North Carolina and South Dakota classes. These fast, modern battleships were relegated to support duties, however. The days of battle lines were long dead by 1943. A battleship in the Second World War was primarily used for shore bombardment and antiaircraft support.
Most of the US Atlantic Fleet was redeployed to the Pacific to make up for the losses suffered by the Pacific Fleet.
Aircraft of the US Navy included the F6F Hellcat, F4F Wildcat, SBD Dauntless, and the TBF Avenger. The TBD Devastator was retired after the first invasion of Oahu due to it's poor handling and slow speed. While the Hellcat became the primary fighter aircraft of the fleet, the Wildcat continued to be flown off of escort carriers.
The US Navy was caught off guard when the US found itself at war in late 1941, early 1942, as they were dealt savage blows by both the Japanese and the Germans. After executing Admiral Kimmel for incompetence, the US Navy under Admirals Halsey and Nimitz struck back, defeating the Japanese and allowing the US to invade Japan.
Many news papers across the country were boggled by the sheer incompetence of the US Navy following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Reporting on one disaster after another, many reporters also questioned the competency of the Roosevelt administration’s Naval policy after an embarrassing story leaked about faulty torpedo's. The Navy's inability to deal with the U-Boat problem plaguing the East Coast didn't help the situation ether.
Despite their only victory at the Battle of the Coral Sea, many news papers chose to focus on the high losses the US Navy suffered, refusing to believe that reporting on Navy operations was responsible for their losses and claimed the Navy was just covering it's tail.
After the disaster at Midway, the Pacific Fleet's last remaining carrier's were sunk, forcing the Navy onto the defensive, and sealing the fate of the Roosevelt administration.
During the War of Secession, the United States Navy, despite its decayed condition, had blockaded the Confederate States coast while controlling interior rivers, but had done so only because the Confederate Navy was in even worse shape.
After the twin defeats in 1862 and in 1882 (the Second Mexican War), the U.S. Navy was reformed into a modern force along the lines of the British navy, and then, following the German-American alliance and Kaiser Wilhelm II's build-up of the High Seas Fleet, was made to follow bilateral naval operations in the North Atlantic. Under the aegis of President Alfred Thayer Mahan, two fleets were built: the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.
It was thanks to the modern Navy and to Mahan's reforms that the United States was able to successfully defend both its coasts in the two Great Wars and project U.S. power onto enemy soil.
During the Second Great War, the U.S. Navy suffered a number of initial setbacks in both oceans, but ultimately drove Japanese forces back into their territory in the Pacific and won a major victory over the British Royal Navy in the Atlantic, which it followed up by retaking Bermuda (which it had lost to the British in 1941) and smuggling weapons to resistance movement fighters in Ireland.
Notable Battles Edit
- The Battle of Hampton Roads -- March 1862
- The Battle of Pearl Harbor -- August 1914
- The Battle of the Three Navies -- June 1916
- The Battle of Midway -- 1941-1943
- The Battle of the North Atlantic -- 1943
Throughout the Second American Revolution, the United States Navy had grown in size and power. When war broke out between England and the US, the US Navy was all but annihilated and the US merchant fleet was reduced to desperate straits. This allowed the Royal Navy to blockade the eastern coast of the US more tightly than the US had blockaded the Confederacy.
The US Navy had been a major power in both the Pacific and the Atlantic when World War II began in late summer of 1938. Although not involved, the US Navy did ship supplies to the Allies until the Big Switch in 1940. In the Pacific, their main concern was the Japanese, as the Navy had two squadrons, the Pacific Fleet, and the Asiatic Squadron.
When war broke out in January of 1941, the Asiatic Squadron found it's self out gunned and fled south to the Dutch East Indies. The Pacific Squadron had better luck when it prevented the Japanese from completely destroying Pearl Harbor, though it lost a carrier, a battleship and a heavy cruiser in the ensuing melee.
The Asiatic Squadron regrouped in the East Indies and joined forced with the British and the Dutch for the Battle of the Java Sea, which ended in failure. After which, the surviving ships returned to Hawaii where Admiral Kimmle launched a massive fleet to take back Wake Island. Although the fleet succeeded in taking back the island, the IJN struck back, sinking all the fleets carriers and killing Admiral Kimmel in the progress. After returning to Hawaii, the US Pacific Fleet then transferred ships from the Atlantic to the Pacific as a stop gap measure.