The Unauthorized History of the Pacific War

Station Hypo, with special guest Director of Naval History & Heritage Command Sam Cox

Episode Summary

Retired Rear Admiral Sam Cox, Director Naval History and Heritage Command, joins Seth Paridon and Captain Bill Toti for a discussion of code-breaking at Station Hypo, to include Hypo's brilliant leader, Commander Joe Rochefort.

Episode Notes

If Seth and I were to define the two main thrusts of our podcast “The Unauthorized History of the Pacific War,” it would be (1) to correct some of the mythology that has emerged over decades, and (2) to see what lessons might be gleaned that could be important were war to break out in the Pacific again.

In my view, our subject for today falls into the second category, because it’s about the impact of strategic alignment and chains of command on operational success.

Station Hypo was one of three main stations the Navy used to listen to and break Japanese naval codes.  Hypo was the phonetic word for the letter “H,” which stood for Hawaii since Station Hypo was the code breaking office located in the basement of the Hawaii Naval District commander’s building in Pearl Harbor.  As an aside, I visited those rooms when I was commodore in Pearl, and they were being used to store furniture for the Pearl Harbor shipyard headquarters building, but we will leave that for another potential future discussion on what’s happened to all these historic sites over the decades.

But germane to this conversation, in the early months of the war the Naval District Hawaii commander reported, not to Admiral Nimitz, but to Admiral King directly.  That would be corrected in the coming months, but since Station Hypo supported combat operations in the Pacific, Admiral Nimitz certainly thought of it as one of his assets, while Admiral King’s staff in Washington saw it as solely and completely theirs, to include Station Hypo’s brilliant leader, Commander Joe Rochefort.

This led to a chain of command problem that would ultimately lead to Rochefort’s dismissal as head of Station Hypo, even after his incredible success leading to our victory at Midway.

To help us unpack all of this, to include how Station Hypo fed both King’s and Nimitz’s strategic picture, we are proud to host the chief historian of the Navy and Director of Naval History and Heritage Command, retired Rear Admiral Sam Cox.

Admiral Cox, welcome.


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