494 Mr R. G. Casey, Minister to the United States, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister, and to Sir Frederick Stewart, Minister for External Affairs

Cablegram 421 WASHINGTON, 8 June 1941, 11.08 p.m.

MOST SECRET FOR PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

Admiral Kimmel, Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Fleet and Captain MacMorrow, Staff Officer U.S. Pacific Fleet, called on me to-day.

After little circumlocution Kimmel began to talk freely. Please do not quote the following as being his views under any circumstances. As you know three U.S. battleships with attendant other vessels have left Hawaii for Atlantic. He believes that if any more U.S. battleships are taken out of the Pacific it will invite Japanese naval aggression. In his view it would be useless to send a British naval force of less than 6 battleships with attendant Ancillary vessels to Singapore.

He believes the Japanese navy to be a respectable, if not probably a formidable, fighting force. He tends quite definitely to respect Japanese navy rather than the reverse.

He is not convinced that the Japanese will undertake southward aggression against Netherlands East Indies or other territory. He says that he has no fixed view as to what they will do, but he believes it possible that they may decide that their best interests will be served by a naval policy of raiding our commerce in S.W. Pacific and Indian Ocean. He seems to base this policy on the reasoning that if we lose the war they will be able at little or no cost to themselves to pick what territory they want and conversely that if we win the war we would probably be able to concentrate naval and other forces sufficient to throw them out of any territory in Netherlands East Indies and elsewhere, that they may have occupied during the war.

He is not dogmatic about the above but he thinks it should be taken into account as a possibility more than it has been up to the present.

He thinks that the most immediate deterrent to the Japanese rests in the 17 U.S.A. submarines and aircraft in the Philippines, with the U.S.A. Pacific Fleet at Hawaii in the background.

He feels that he will not be able to be of much assistance to Australia and New Zealand in S.W. Pacific west 180 degrees because of his [scarcity of] [1] cruisers and he believes security of S.W.

Pacific is a cruiser task.

He has little or no knowledge of what the Japanese have been doing in Marshall and Caroline Islands other than that at least 30 Japanese merchant vessels have been plying between those islands and Japanese mainland at least for some months.

Liaison with Australia. He wants naval officer constantly on hand with him who will be able to answer all reasonably factual questions as they arise about Australian waters and facilities. In my view he has in mind officer not necessarily above the rank of Lieut.-Commander and not necessarily a trained staff officer. He agrees in fact with views stated in my telegram 419. [2]

CASEY

1 Inserted from the Washington copy on file AA: A3300, 97.

2 Dispatched 7 June. On file AA: A816, 37/301/88.

[AA: A981, PACIFIC 8,i]