"TO DENY WAKE TO THE ENEMY"
The U.S. Navy's command structure in 1941 resembled a shifting pyramid of overlapping jurisdictions. Consider the case of Rear Adm. Claude C. Bloch, commandant of the Fourteenth Naval District, who wore several different hats at the same time. As COM 14, Bloch functioned as both the commandant of the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard and commander of the local base defense forces (Task Force 4). In addition to governing the Navy's busiest and most important stronghold, Bloch's lines of authority stretched westward for two thousand mides to Hawaii's line of outpost islands--Palmyra, Johnston, Midway, and Wake. The admiral oversaw the construction of the naval air stations at those distant sites. Once the bases became operable, Bloch would be responsible for manning, equipping, and supplying them at levels sufficient to service units of the U.S. Fleet. Finally, Bloch held the post of commander of the Hawaiian Naval Coastal Frontier, which gave him control over "the local defense forces for outlying islands." The senior officer present on each island acted in Bloch's name, and, in the event of war, that officer had orders to "coordinate local sea, air and land defense."1
Bloch responded to the growing Japanese menace on 4 April 1941, drafting an operation plan "to protect outlying island bases and safeguard the installations thereon." The admiral required the "Naval Local Defense Force" on each atoll to execute the following instructions: