On this date, Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo’s First Air Fleet is steaming southeast, some 800 nautical miles north of Oahu. The armada encounters a Norwegian freighter, and to keep the lid on their operation, sailors board the vessel and destroy its radio. Japanese submarines now surround Hawaii as Rear Adm. John A. Newton’s Task Force 12 departs Pearl Harbor for Midway, with USS Lexington ferrying SB2U-3 Vindicators from Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 231 (VMSB-231) to Midway Island.
Having delivered the Marine fighter aircraft to Wake the day before and due to return to Hawaii on 6 December, USS Enterprise runs into bad weather, causing a delay.
The aircraft carriers deployed warplanes in response to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Harold R. Stark’s 27 November “war warning,” which stated “This dispatch is to be considered a war warning. Negotiations with Japan looking toward stabilization of conditions in the Pacific have ceased and an aggressive move by Japan is expected within the next few days. The number and equipment of Japanese troops and the organization of naval task forces indicates an amphibious expedition against either the Philippines, Thai or Kra Peninsula or possibly Borneo. Execute an appropriate defensive deployment preparatory to carrying out the tasks assigned in WPL 46 [Navy Basic War Plan-Rainbow 5]. Inform district and Army authorities.”