PACIFIC, COMMAND OF THE. The development of the strategic situation in the Pacific ocean, as it now exists, may be said to have begun in 1894 when a victorious Japan eliminated the Chinese navy as a serious factor in the balance of sea-power. Three European sovereignties then proceeded to establish bases in the Far East, Russia at Port Arthur, Germany at Tsingtao, the naval fortress of Kiaochow on Shantung, and Great Britain at Weihaiwei. During this period, the most serious rivalry lay be tween Russia and Japan, each intent upon the control of Korea, and in 1904-05 the issue was resolved by a war in which Japan eliminated the Russian navy in the Far East as completely as the Chinese navy had been eliminated ten years before. Japan was left in undisputed mastery of Asiatic waters from Kamchatka in the north to the Philippine archipelago in the south.
In 1902 Great Britain concluded an alliance with Japan and so safeguarded her interests in the Far East. The British force on the China station was reduced, therefore, to a mere cruiser squad ron. While Germany continued to fortify Tsingtao as a refuge for her small Asiatic fleet, it was clear that her forces, whether on land or sea, did not materially affect Japan's supremacy in armaments. At Manila in the Philippines the United States kept a few secondary ships of war, but took no steps to develop the naval resources of this fine harbour. Guam, an American island of the Marianas group, lying 1,5oo m. to the east of the Philip pines, ranked only as a fuel station, though its position invested it with unique strategic value.
This situation continued, substantially unchanged, from the year 1905 when the Treaty of Portsmouth was signed between Russia and Japan, and the outbreak of the World War in 1914. The Far Eastern seas, which had long been the arena of con flicting claims to supremacy, had now passed definitely and, as it seemed, permanently, under the control of a single Power. Sub sequent events have tended to consolidate the strategic predomi nance of the Japanese empire. The conquest of Tsingtao early in the World War eliminated the only German stronghold in the Pacific. Domestic convulsions in Russia, by apparently reducing
the naval forces of that State to impotence, have rendered still more remote the prospect of Vladivostok again becoming the headquarters of a formidable fleet.
In order to understand the new position, it is necessary to appreciate what the naval strategist means by "radius of fleet action." Modern fighting ships have a narrow radius of action, dimensioned by their relatively meagre fuel capacity. In time of war individual cruisers may roam the sea for weeks, even for months, at a stretch, replenishing their bunkers as opportunity offers. This, however, is not possible for an organised fleet, at tended by the smaller craft which are essential as watch-dogs to the heavy ships. From experience gained in the World War it is estimated that a battle-fleet with its proper complement of ancil lary units can remain at sea under war conditions not longer than four days. To be within reach of attack the objective must not be farther away than two days' travel at ordinary speed. To all intents, a battle-fleet within the war zone is restricted to a cruise of 96 hours.
These essential facts demonstrate the intimate relation between strategy and geography. In the vast expanse of the Pacific ocean, every problem of naval strategy involves the question of base facilities, and the broad consideration to be faced is that in con sequence of recent international negotiations, the number of po tential naval bases in the Pacific has been substantially increased, with the result that squadrons, if not whole fleets, may henceforth be able to operate in waters which formerly lay beyond their reach. It is true that a great many of these islands are mere atolls, affording little or no shelter for large vessels, and lacking even the most rudimentary naval resources. An important part was played in the South Atlantic operations of the British fleet during the World War by the remote coaling base at Abrolhos Rocks, off the Brazil coast.