Monday, December 15, 2014

70 Years of Fleet Admirals

"This Day in History"

December 14, 1944

The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. The mission of the Navy is to patrol the world’s oceans and protect the United States and her citizens from any dangers. Internally, to maintain control and organization, the Navy sets a chain of command in order to establish a line of authority and responsibility.  The Navy also has an extensive set of rates and ranks associated with each sailor to determine their status in the chain of command, as well as their pay grade. Rates are associated with enlisted sailors. These rates start at E-1 and go up to E-9. Ranks, however, are only reserved for Navy Officers. The highest Navy rank is the four-star Admiral.
Fleet Admiral collar device, shoulder board, and sleeve stripe.
However, during times of war, Congress can approve the rank of a five-star Fleet Admiral. Equivalent to the General of the Army or the General of the Air Force, the Fleet Admiral in the Navy is the highest rank attainable in the service – though it is only awarded during times of war. This rank was established by an Act of Congress during World War II, on December 14, 1944. Under this act, four officers were authorized the temporary rank of Fleet Admiral: William D. Leahy, William F. Halsey, Jr., Ernest J. King,  and Chester W. Nimitz.

Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, USN, 1945.
Photograph courtesy of the National Archives.
Ernest King served on submarines from 1923-1925, but never received his Submarine Warfare insignia. He is credited with creating the first design of the insignia worn today by qualified submariners, called “dolphins”.
Official photograph of the United States Navy.
Chester Nimitz was the leading authority on submarines. He was a major contributor in overseeing the conversion of gasoline to diesel in submarines propulsion and assisted with the approval in building the first nuclear-powered submarine. Nimitz was the last surviving officer who served as a Fleet Admiral.
Today, the legacy of the United States Navy and their accomplishments during World War II is memorialized at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum and USS Razorback. As one of the most complete submarines built during World War II, Razorback is a welcomed addition to the museum. Stop by the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum for a tour of the submarine, and learn more about her service during World War II and after.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd
Editor: Allison Hiblong