Tactically, the attack was a success. Complete surprise had been achieved and eight battleships, one cruiser, and three destroyers and many other vessels had been damaged or sunk. But lingering questions in the Japanese Naval command and in the minds of historians have led to a reexamination of the success of the attack. Fuchida, the flight leader, argued for another attack to strike the oil storage facility, which would have crippled Hawaii as a forward base for the US Navy. Nagumo, fearing discovery and attack on the First Air Fleet, took his carriers away at top speed. The top targets, the American aircraft carriers, were not in port. Failure to destroy these assets would come to haunt the First Air Fleet in a short six months’ time off Midway.
Nagumo had achieved every other objective, and it seemed that nothing could stop the Japanese anywhere. It was believed that the midget submarines had been a great success, and they were hailed as heroes who gave their lives. The airmen were upset that honors were given to the submariners and not their dead comrades, but what would have made them even more upset is that not one midget sub even fired a torpedo. All five were sunk, except for one that beached. One crewman killed himself and the other was Japanese POW no. #1.
On December 31, 1941, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz took command at Pearl Harbor. To everyone’s surprise, he did not fire Kimmel’s staff. The situation was grim for his command, and he privately told his wife that he expected to be fired soon. Without the battleships needed to fight the traditional doctrine of a mainforce engagement, Nimitz built new task forces around his three carriers. Nimitz and his staff were creating new combat doctrine on the spot. The battleship would never again be the primary weapon of the Navy.