Today in AFJ History

December 7, 2013  

1941: The day before Pearl Harbor

Calm before the storm: This detail from Army and Navy Journal's front page of Dec. 6, 1941, shows U.S. Navy leaders in the Pacific, including Adm. Husband Kimmel, who would be blamed for the Japanese attack and removed from command 10 days later.

From the archive: December 6, 1941

Editor’s note: The day before Japanese warplanes surprised U.S. defenders at Pearl Harbor, the Army and Navy Journal published its last pre-war issue. Looking back, one is struck by the general tenor of the paper, full of news and notes about military preparations — very little “At Dawn We Slept” feeling.


A bright spot in the nation’s defense program is the record on the construction of fighting ships for the Navy. Consistently it has been ahead of schedule. That this is so is a tribute to the nation as a whole, for every state in the union contributes in some measure to the fabrication of the ships of war – the minds, the farms, and the factory send their products to the shipyard, while the laborer, skilled and unskilled, the professional man, and the executive put forth their combined efforts that the nation might be strong at sea. During the month of November, 1941, the Navy laid keels and launched new ships at the rate of better than one a day — keels were laid for 52 vessels, 33 were launched and five new ships are flying the Navy’s commission pennant. That represents one month in a vast program, for the Navy has placed orders for 5,334 vessels costing approximately 7 1/2 billion dollars in addition to the billion spent for expanding shipbuilding facilities. Already built are 343 combatant vessels of 1,372,375 tons. Building, or in the process of conversion, Are 344 additional combatant vessels aggregating the stupendous total of 2,108,608 tons, or an average of well over 6,000 tons per vessel. In addition to these combatant vessels the Navy has in being, or under construction or conversion, 1,191 additional vessels as auxiliaries, mine craft, patr vessels, or net and boom craft.