In 1939 Hart was appointed Commander of the US Asiatic Fleet which was stationed off the Philippines and consisted of two cruisers and a few destroyers, submarines and motor torpedo boats. At the time of the invasion of the Philippines by the Japanese, Hart’s relations with General MACARTHUR, the Commander of Land Forces in the Philippines, were very strained. Hart’s naval forces could do little to protect the Philippines and were withdrawn. Hart was appointed Naval Commander of ABDA (Australian— British—Dutch—American Command) in January 1942 but he only held the post for a month. He directed a couple of actions off the Dutch East Indies but retired from service shortly before the Battle of Java Sea. Hart returned to Washington but was soon recalled from retirement because of his experience to serve on the Naval Board, which he did until the end of the war.