SPANISH–AMERICAN WAR MEXICAN REVOLUTION
* Battle of Veracruz
WORLD WAR I
WORLD WAR II
OTHER WORK Naval Historical Foundation , President
ERNEST JOSEPH KING (23 November 1878 – 25 June 1956) was Commander
* 1 Early life
* 2 Surface ships
* 3 Submarines
* 4 Aviation
World War II
* 7 Analysis
* 7.1 Response to Operation Drumbeat * 7.2 Other decisions
* 8 Personal life * 9 Dates of rank
* 10 Awards and decorations
* 10.1 Foreign awards
* 11 Namesakes * 12 References * 13 Bibliography * 14 External links
King was born in
While still at the Academy, he served on the cruiser USS San
Francisco during the
King returned to shore duty at
Annapolis in 1912. He received his
first command, the destroyer USS Terry in 1914, participating in the
World War I
After the war, King, now a captain , became head of the Naval Postgraduate School . Along with Captains Dudley Wright Knox and William S. Pye , King prepared a report on naval training that recommended changes to naval training and career paths. Most of the report's recommendations were accepted and became policy.
World War I
King attended a short training course at the Naval
In 1926, Rear Admiral William A. Moffett , Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer), asked King if he would consider a transfer to naval aviation . King accepted the offer and took command of the aircraft tender USS Wright with additional duties as senior aide on the staff of Commander, Air Squadrons, Atlantic Fleet.
That year, the
King commanded Wright until 1929, except for a brief interlude
overseeing the salvage of USS S-4 . He then became Assistant Chief of
Bureau of Aeronautics under Moffett. The two fell out over certain
elements of Bureau policy, and he was replaced by Commander John Henry
Towers and transferred to command of
Naval Station Norfolk
On 20 June 1930, King became captain of the carrier USS Lexington
—then one of the largest aircraft carriers in the world—which he
commanded for the next two years. During his tenure aboard the
Lexington, Captain King was the commanding officer of notable science
Robert A. Heinlein
In 1932, King attended the Naval War College . In a war college thesis entitled "The Influence of National Policy on Strategy", King expounded on the theory that America's weakness was Representative democracy :
Historically ... it is traditional and habitual for us to be inadequately prepared. This is the combined result of a number factors, the character of which is only indicated: democracy, which tends to make everyone believe that he knows it all; the preponderance (inherent in democracy) of people whose real interest is in their own welfare as individuals; the glorification of our own victories in war and the corresponding ignorance of our defeats (and disgraces) and of their basic causes; the inability of the average individual (the man in the street) to understand the cause and effect not only in foreign but domestic affairs, as well as his lack of interest in such matters. Added to these elements is the manner in which our representative (republican) form of government has developed as to put a premium on mediocrity and to emphasise the defects of the electorate already mentioned.
Following the death of Admiral Moffet in the crash of the airship USS Akron on 4 April 1933, King became Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, and was promoted to rear admiral on 26 April 1933. As bureau chief, King worked closely with the chief of the Bureau of Navigation , Rear Admiral William D. Leahy , to increase the number of naval aviators.
At the conclusion of his term as bureau chief in 1936, King became
Commander, Aircraft, Base Force, at
Naval Air Station North Island ,
California. He was promoted to Vice Admiral on 29 January 1938 on
becoming Commander, Aircraft, Battle Force – at the time one of only
three vice admiral billets in the US Navy. Among his accomplishments
was to corroborate Admiral
Harry E. Yarnell 's 1932 war game findings
in 1938 by staging his own successful simulated naval air raid on
King hoped to be appointed as either CNO or Commander in Chief,
WORLD WAR II
King's career was resurrected by his friend, Admiral Harold "Betty"
Chief of Naval Operations
Historian Michael Gannon blamed King for the heavy American losses during the Second Happy Time . Others however blamed the belated institution of a convoy system, partly due to a severe shortage of suitable escort vessels, without which convoys were seen as more vulnerable than lone ships.
On 17 December 1944, King was promoted to the newly created rank of fleet admiral . He left active duty on 15 December 1945 but was recalled as an advisor to the Secretary of the Navy in 1950.
RETIREMENT AND DEATH
After retiring, King lived in
King was highly intelligent and extremely capable, but controversial.
Some consider him to have been one of the greatest admirals of the
20th century; others, however, point out that he never commanded
ships or fleets at sea in war time, and that his
Anglophobia led him
to make decisions which cost many Allied lives. Others see as
indicative of strong leadership his willingness and ability to counter
both British and U.S. Army influence on American World War II
strategy, and praise his sometimes outspoken recognition of the
strategic importance of the
…perhaps the most disliked Allied leader of World War II. Only British Field Marshal Montgomery may have had more enemies... King also loved parties and often drank to excess. Apparently, he reserved his charm for the wives of fellow naval officers. On the job, he "seemed always to be angry or annoyed."
There was a tongue-in-cheek remark about King, made by one of his
daughters, repeated by Naval personnel at the time, that "he is the
most even-tempered person in the
It is commonly reported when King was called to be COMINCH, he
remarked, "When they get in trouble they send for the
sons-of-bitches." However, when he was later asked if he had said
this, King replied he had not, but would have if he had thought of it.
On the other hand, King's view of press relations for the US Navy in
World War II
RESPONSE TO OPERATION DRUMBEAT
At the start of US involvement in World War II, blackouts on the U.S.
eastern seaboard were not in effect, and commercial ships traveling
the coastal waterways were not travelling under convoy . King's
critics attribute the delay in implementing these measures to his
Anglophobia, as the convoys and seaboard blackouts were British
proposals, and King was supposedly loath to have his much-beloved U.S.
Navy adopt any ideas from the
Instead of convoys, King had the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard
perform regular anti-submarine patrols, but these patrols followed a
It was not until May 1942 that King marshalled resources—small cutters and private vessels that he had previously scorned—to establish a day-and-night interlocking convoy system running from Newport, Rhode Island , to Key West, Florida .
By August 1942, the submarine threat to shipping in U.S. coastal waters had been contained. The U-boats' "second happy time" ended, with the loss of seven U-boats and a dramatic reduction in shipping losses. The same effect occurred when convoys were extended to the Caribbean . Despite the ultimate defeat of the U-boat, some of King's initial decisions in this theatre could be viewed as flawed.
In King's defense, noted naval historian Professor Robert W. Love has stated that:
Operation Drumbeat (or Paukenschlag) off the Atlantic Coast in early 1942 succeeded largely because the U.S. Navy was already committed to other tasks: transatlantic escort-of-convoy operations, defending troop transports, and maintaining powerful, forward-deployed Atlantic Fleet striking forces to prevent a breakout of heavy German surface forces. Navy leaders, especially Admiral King, were unwilling to risk troop shipping to provide escorts for coastal merchant shipping. Unscheduled, emergency deployments of Army units also created disruptions to navy plans, as did other occasional unexpected tasks. Contrary to the traditional historiography, neither Admiral King's unproven yet widely alleged Anglophobia, an equally undocumented navy reluctance to accept British advice, nor a preference for another strategy caused the delay in the inauguration of coastal escort-of-convoy operations. The delay was due to a shortage of escorts, and that resulted from understandably conflicting priorities, a state of affairs that dictated all Allied strategy until 1944.
CONTEXT FOR THE US NAVY\'S AND ADMIRAL KING\'S RESPONSE TO OPERATION DRUMBEAT
AUTHORITY: Admiral King assumed the appointment as COMINCH, US Fleet
on December 20, 1941 from Admiral Kimmel. While the command provided
operational control of the three US Navy Fleets and coastal vessels,
Admiral Stark was the
Chief of Naval Operations
AVAILABILITY of VESSELS (based on a variety of sources ]): An analysis of the disposition of US Naval vessels in December, 1941 highlights a total of about 300 “patrol capable vessels” (DD, PG, PC, Coast Guard Cutters, PY and PYc types) including those in overhauls, major repairs and fitting-out. The inventory includes 171 destroyers of which over 40% were WWI era types, about 52 “Patrol Types” (PG, PY, PYc) including Spanish American War trophies and a collection of about 76 Coast Guard Cutters (not including the 10 of the 21 larger 250+’ cutters given to the British).
The US Atlantic Fleet contained 100% of the newer Sims, Benson and
Gleaves destroyer classes. Of the 91 destroyers deployed in US
Atlantic Fleet (leaving only 66 in the US Pacific and 13 in the US
Asiatic Fleets), 52 US Atlantic Fleet destroyers were deployed either
If one looks at the building programs for FY39 and FY40, the US Navy had 194 destroyers (some ordered in June and July 1940), 140 Patrol Craft (PC's 173', 165', 110'), 78 Sub Chasers (SC’s) and 129 YMS’s (which could be utilized for anti-sub role if necessary). ] Of the Destroyers laid down in 1940-1 that were not commissioned on December 7, twenty-eight were commissioned between January and June of 1942 with 16 assigned to the US Atlantic Fleet or the European Theater of Operations (ETO) and 12 assigned to the US Pacific Fleet (and of the 12, 1/3 conducted anti-submarine/convoy duty in the Atlantic/Caribbean prior to reporting to the Pacific Fleet) and, of the remaining fifty-two of the classes of 1940-1, 35 were commissioned and assigned to the US Atlantic Fleet and/or the ETO.
As for coastal class escorts, the US Navy commissioned 126 vessels in the period January to June 1942 with 83 being assigned to the US Atlantic Fleet. The bulk of the vessels were of the new 173’ PC and 110’ SC (some 110' PC reassigned as SC types) classes. During the same period, the Coast Guard commissioned 11 vessels with 10 being assigned to the Greenland/Newfoundland Patrols. For the period July–December 1943, the Navy commissioned an additional 52 Patrol Craft and, while the data on the 110’ SC’s is a little lacking, the pattern seems to remain with the bulk of the vessels being assigned to the US Atlantic Fleet while the US Coast Guard commissioned 21 vessels with 19 going to the Greenland/Newfoundland Patrols. In addition, a number of other vessels types were being launched configured for escorts like the seven Cactus Class Lighthouse Tenders in 1942 (as well as the follow-on Cactus and Mesquite Classes); the Admirable class minesweepers; and the YMS class minesweepers. The US Coast Guard drafted almost every vessel type including sea going tugs, weather ships, icebreakers, and converted freighters into the Greenland Patrol.
Prior and during WWII, the US Navy instituted the procurement and modification of civilian/commercial vessels as it has in times of conflict since the Revolution. The effort began in earnest with the efforts to enforce the Neutrality Patrols and continued past December 1941. In fact of the “Patrol” types available prior to December 1941, the majority of them were acquired, converted craft (PG, PY, PYc). The Navy extended the acquisitions especially of fishing vessels to fill mine-sweeping and harbor patrol duties (AM, AMc types). The US Coast Guard (under the command of the US Navy) continued to acquire commercial and fishing vessel types as Patrol Cutters (WPG, WYP, WYPc, WAK) into early stages of the war with 95% being utilized to the east coast but the majority assigned to the Greenland Patrol.
As to Escort Carriers, two “Escort Carriers” (AVG/CVE Types) following the general design of the USS Long Island (acquired March 1941) were built prior to December 1941 with one being siphoned-off by the UK. During the first half of 1942, four CVE’s were commissioned with two going to the UK with the other two being assigned to the US Navy with one each to the Pacific and Atlantic. In the last half of 1942, fifteen CVE’s were commissioned with six going to the UK, and all but one of the US Navy units initially assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. The US manned CVE’s carried a more robust air wing the previous UK-built/manned vessels and, obviously, the UK units were not assigned to the daunting tasks facing the US Navy.
AVAILABILITY of Naval Patrol Aircraft (based on a variety of sources
]): As to Naval aviation, a review of the “Dictionary American Naval
Aviation Squadrons” and the declassified “Location of U.S. Naval
Aircraft” show on February 2, 1942 the US Navy had 102 “primary”
patrol aircraft (PBY-5, PV-1, PB4Y-1 (B-24), and PBM-3) deployed in
nine squadrons in the US Atlantic Fleet (Gulf, Caribbean and the
Atlantic) including about 33% of the squadrons deployed to
Newfoundland or Iceland (and net of VP-72 and VP-71). The Navy had 110
aircraft (post the losses to the Japanese and with the US Asiatic
Fleet and with the inclusion of the two transferred squadrons from the
Atlantic) in fourteen squadrons in the greater Pacific. Of course, one
can point to the transfer after
By June 25, 1942, the US Navy had 168 “primary” patrol aircraft in the “Battle for the Atlantic” zones in 15 squadrons while 176 aircraft (including the remainder of the US Asiatic Squadrons) in the greater Pacific. The US Navy assigned 148 in-shore patrol aircraft in the Atlantic Fleet while 86 were assigned in the Greater Pacific. By December 8, 1942, the US Navy increased the “primary” patrol aircraft to 174 in the Atlantic with a net of 164 in the Pacific (net of headquarters and training commands and squadrons being trained). Actually, the US Atlantic Fleet training commands which conducted anti-submarine and convoy escort missions had more aircraft than the Pacific units.
INTER-SERVICE CHALLENGES: As put forward in the Army Antisubmarine Command History, there were “conflicts” between the Navy and the Army addressing defense from seaborne treats along the coasts. Under the Joint Action of the Army and Navy (FTP-155, 1935), the Navy had responsibility for seaborne coastal patrols and there was no debate over the Navy operating seaplanes and carrier-class aircraft. General Arnold was opposed to the Navy operating land-based bombers and to Admiral King’s request of 200 B-24’s and 400 B-25’s for long range patrol. On the Army Air Forces side, little was done to provide the necessary air assets when the US Navy requested the US Army Air Force (AAF) assign I Bomber Command to support the Atlantic Fleet. The Command was thrown into the gap stripped of most of its long-range aircraft. If fact by January 1943, the two AAF commands tasked to support the US Navy’s effort could put together only 139 operational aircraft (given strains of the build-up in the ETO). ]
STAFFING: The US Navy had about 160,000 personnel in 1940 building to 640,570 plus 56,716 USCG in 1942 to over 3.3 million by the end of the war. Thus in 1941 into early 1942, the meager availability of trained officers and NCOs had to be metered out to crews for new capital ships, supply operations, medical operations, repair and maintenance operations, air wings, etc. Patrol craft and Destroyers assignments were some of the most challenging non-flight assignments given the reliance on junior officers. ]
BLACK-OUTS/DIM-OUTS: There is some support for Admiral King’s reliance on FDR to order blackouts/dim-outs along the coasts. The order could have very quickly come from FDR (as an Executive Order); FDR could have expedited a request Congress to enact emergency legislation; or quickly contacted the Governors of the relevant states to address the situation.
THREATS IN THE PACIFIC: In the first six months to a year of 1942,
the Japanese could have utilized their 65 ] (63 ocean-going
submarines) submarines to conduct anti-shipping campaign either to
cut-off Hawaii or Australia/New Zealand (remember, Japanese subs were
There is no statistical evidence Admiral King stripped the Atlantic
Fleet to fill the gaps in the Pacific nor is the evidence the US Navy
had neglected the preparation for anti-submarine warfare or ignored
the learning from WWI, the Neutrality Patrols or the early Battle of
the Atlantic. The attack on
A lesser leader could have pointed to the intense commitment to the
Atlantic convoys system to the UK and Russia; augment the British Home
Fleet; and/or support
Other decisions widely regarded as questionable were his resistance
to the employment of long-range
It should be noted, however, employment of long-range maritime patrol
aircraft in the Atlantic was complicated by inter-service squabbling
over command and control (the aircraft belonged to the Army; the
mission was the Navy's;
Secretary of War
The employment of British and Empire forces in the Pacific was a political matter. The measure was forced on Churchill by the British Chiefs of Staff, not only to re-establish British presence in the region, but to mitigate any impression in the U.S. that the British were doing nothing to help defeat Japan. King was adamant that naval operations against Japan remain 100% American, and angrily resisted the idea of a British naval presence in the Pacific at the Quadrant Conference in late 1944, citing (among other things) the difficulty of supplying additional naval forces in the theatre (for much the same reason, Hap Arnold resisted the offer of RAF units in the Pacific). In addition, King (along with Marshall) had continually resisted operations that would assist the British agenda in reclaiming or maintaining any part of her pre-war colonial holdings in the Pacific or the Eastern Mediterranean . Roosevelt, however, overruled him and, despite King's reservations, the British Pacific Fleet accounted itself well against Japan in the last months of the war.
...tough as nails and carried himself as stiffly as a poker. He was blunt and stand-offish, almost to the point of rudeness. At the start, he was intolerant and suspicious of all things British, especially the Royal Navy; but he was almost equally intolerant and suspicious of the American Army. War against Japan was the problem to which he had devoted the study of a lifetime, and he resented the idea of American resources being used for any other purpose than to destroy the Japanese. He mistrusted Churchill's powers of advocacy, and was apprehensive that he would wheedle President Roosevelt into neglecting the war in the Pacific.
Contrary to British opinion, King was a strong believer in the
Germany first strategy. However, his natural aggression did not permit
him to leave resources idle in the Atlantic that could be utilized in
the Pacific, especially when "it was doubtful when — if ever — the
British would consent to a cross-Channel operation". King once
complained that the Pacific deserved 30% of Allied resources but was
getting only 15%. When, at the Casablanca Conference, he was accused
by Field-Marshal Sir Alan Brooke of favoring the Pacific war, the
argument became heated. The combative
Following Japan's defeat at the
Battle of Midway
In spite of (or perhaps partly because of) the fact the two men did
not get along, the combined influence of King and
Another controversy involving King was his role in the court-martial of Captain Charles B. McVay III .
While at the Naval Academy, King met Martha Rankin ("Mattie")
DATES OF RANK
ENSIGN LIEUTENANT (JUNIOR GRADE) LIEUTENANT LIEUTENANT COMMANDER COMMANDER CAPTAIN
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6
7 JUNE 1903 NEVER HELD 7 JUNE 1906 1 JULY 1913 1 JULY 1917 21 SEPTEMBER 1918
REAR ADMIRAL (LOWER HALF) REAR ADMIRAL VICE ADMIRAL ADMIRAL FLEET ADMIRAL
O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10 O-11
NEVER HELD 26 APRIL 1933 29 JANUARY 1938 1 FEBRUARY 1941 17 DECEMBER 1944
King never held the rank of lieutenant (junior grade) although, for administrative reasons, his service record annotates his promotion to both lieutenant (junior grade) and lieutenant on the same day. All DOR referenced from Buell's "Master of Sea Power", pp. xii–xv.
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
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Naval Aviator Wings
Navy Cross Navy Distinguished Service Medal with two stars
King was also the recipient of several foreign awards and decorations (shown in order of acceptance and if more than one award for a country, placed in order of precedence):
Grand Cross of the National Order of the Légion d\'honneur (France ) 1945
Croix de guerre (
Commander of the Order of Vasco Nunez de Balboa (
Officer of the
Order of the Crown of Italy
Knight of the Grand Cross of the Military Order of Italy 1948
Order of Merit, Grande Official (
Estrella Abdon Calderon (
Order of the Sacred Tripod (China ) 1945
Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown (1948)
Croix de Guerre (
Knight Grand Cross with Swords of the Order of Orange-Nassau
Grave of Admiral King
The guided missile destroyer USS King was named in his honor. A major
high school in his hometown of
* ^ U.S. officers holding five-star rank never retire; they draw
full active duty pay for life.Spencer C. Tucker (2011). The
Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military
History. ABC-CLIO. pp. 1685. ISBN 978-1-85109-961-0 .
* ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, p. 3.
* ^ Morison, The Battle of the Atlantic, p. 51.
* ^ Buell, Master of Sea Power, 1980, pp. 10–12, 15–41.
* ^ Martin Folly, Historical Dictionary of US Diplomacy
* ^ Gannon, Operation Drumbeat, p. 168.
* ^ "Full Text Citations For Award of The Navy Cross to Members of
the US Navy World War I".
* ^ Young, Frank Pierce. "
* Borneman, Walter R. (2012). The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy
and King – The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea
(Hardback)format= requires url= (help ). New York: Little, Brown and
Company. ISBN 978-0-316-09784-0 .
* Buell, Thomas B. (1995). Master of Sea Power: A Biography of Fleet
Admiral Ernest J. King.
Naval Institute Press . ISBN
* Gannon, Michael (1991). Operation Drumbeat. New York: Harper
Collins . ISBN 0-06-092088-2 .
* Jordan, Jonathan W. (2015), American Warlords: How Roosevelt's
High Command Led America to Victory in
World War II
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* "Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King". Naval Historical