General Board of the United States Navy

The General Board of the United States Navy was an advisory body of the United States Navy, somewhat akin to a naval general staff and somewhat not. The General Board was established by general order 544, issued on March 13, 1900 by John Davis Long. The order was officially recognized by Congress in 1916.[1] The General Board was disbanded in 1951.

USNavyGeneralBoard1947
The General Board of the U.S. Navy in November, 1947. From left to right: Colonel Randolph M. Pate; Admiral Walter F. Boone; Admiral Charles H. McMorris; Admiral John H. Towers; Rear Admiral Charles B. Momsen; Captain Leon J. Huffman; Commander J.M Lee; Captain Arleigh A. Burke

Origins

"The war with Spain had underlined the need for adequate staff work and the success of the War Board had pointed the way for the future. Among the most persistent advocates of a general staff for the Navy was Captain Henry C. Taylor. He had first laid plans for such a staff before Roosevelt in May 1897; now in 1900 he brought the idea once more to the attention of Secretary Long. Long, however, was reluctant to risk a fight with his entrenched bureau chiefs, hesitant about allowing the professional officers wide powers outside civilian control, and rightly dubious whether Congress could be brought to approve the scheme. Consequently he compromised, and in March 1900 created a Board, known as the General Board, which possessed no executive functions, but was to serve as a purely advisory council which was constitutionally confined to considering such problems of strategy as the Secretary of the Navy might refer to it."[2]

Purpose and composition

The General Board was composed of senior admirals, most near the end of their careers, who could be relied upon to "deliberate selflessly and objectively on matters ranging from strategy to ship characteristics".[3] "These senior officers, some in the twilight of their careers, without line responsibilities, and others members on an ex officio basis, not only brought considerable expertise to bear, they also had the time to devote to problem solving without the press of day-to-day decision making."[4]

"The board had two categories of members – the full time executive committee and ex officio members, senior officers holding specifics posts, who attended monthly board meetings. ... the ex officio members of the board included the President of the Naval War College, the director of naval intelligence, and the chief of the Bureau of Navigation. The general board was a watered-down version of the naval general staff proposed by a line officer, Captain Henry C. Taylor, in February 1900."[5]

"Originally consisting of nine officers, the membership of the board was changed frequently – in 1902 to 10; in 1904 to 14; in 1905 to seven; and in 1909 back to nine."[6]

The board was headed by a chairman (also known as its president). George Dewey chaired the board from its inception until 1917, although a stroke in 1914 limited his abilities in the last three years of his tenure.

"The role that the General Board of the Navy played was the critical organizational dynamic in linking the treaty system and innovation in the fleet. Particularly astonishing, given the hierarchical nature of the U.S. Navy, was the General Board's tolerant and consensus-driven process which led to an environment highly favorable to creativity and innovation."[7]

Dissolution

In its beginning years, the General Board of the United States Navy was effectively a naval general staff, but started to lose its influence with the creation of the Chief of Naval Operations.[8] "The creation of the office of Chief of Naval Operations in 1915 reduced some of the importance of the board, but even until the beginning of World War II some of the most senior admirals on the active list and some very experienced retired admirals were assigned to the General Board. ... During the latter years of its life – particularly since [World War II], the establishment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Unification Act – the General Board was put to less and less use." The board was inactivated by order of Chief of Naval Operations Forrest Sherman in April 1951 and abolished the following month.[9]

References

  1. ^ Robert W. Neeser . The Department of the Navy. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Feb., 1917), pp. 59-75
  2. ^ J. A. S. Grenville. Diplomacy and War Plans in the United States, 1890–1917. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fifth Series, Vol. 11, (1961), pp. 1–21. Published by: Royal Historical Society
  3. ^ Richard B. Frank. Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle. 1990, ISBN 0-14-016561-4. p. 4
  4. ^ Donald Chisholm. Waiting for Dead Men's Shoes: Origins and Development of the U.S. Navy's Officer Personnel System, 1793–1941. 2001. p. 784
  5. ^ William M. McBride. Technological Change and the United States Navy, 1865–1945. JHU Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8018-6486-0, ISBN 978-0-8018-6486-5. p. 47
  6. ^ Albert C. Stillson. "Military Policy Without Political Guidance: Theodore Roosevelt's Navy". Military Affairs, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Spring, 1961), pp. 18–31 [19]. Published by the Society for Military History.
  7. ^ John Trost Kuehn. The Influence of Naval Arms Limitation on U.S. Naval Innovation During the Interwar Period 1921–1937. Doctoral Dissertation, Kansas State University, 2007. p. 2
  8. ^ US Military Dictionary: The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military. 2001, 2002, Oxford University Press, Inc.
  9. ^ Hanson W. Baldwin. "General Board is Dead". New York Times, May 5, 1951

Further reading

  • Kuehn, John T. America's First General Staff: A short history of the rise and fall of the General Board of the Navy, 1900–1950 (US Naval Institute Press, 2017), 320 pages
Battle of Manila Bay

The Battle of Manila Bay (Spanish: Batalla de Bahía de Manila), also known as the Battle of Cavite, took place on 1 May 1898, during the Spanish–American War. The American Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey engaged and destroyed the Spanish Pacific Squadron under Contraalmirante (Rear admiral) Patricio Montojo. The battle took place in Manila Bay in the Philippines, and was the first major engagement of the Spanish–American War. The battle was one of the most decisive naval battles in history and marked the end of the Spanish colonial period in Philippine history.

Frigate

A frigate () is a type of warship, having various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.

In the 17th century, a frigate was any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built". These could be warships carrying their principal batteries of carriage-mounted guns on a single deck or on two decks (with further smaller carriage-mounted guns usually carried on the forecastle and quarterdeck of the vessel). The term was generally used for ships too small to stand in the line of battle, although early line-of-battle ships were frequently referred to as frigates when they were built for speed.

In the 18th century, frigates were usually as long as a ship of the line and were square-rigged on all three masts (full-rigged), but were faster and with lighter armament, used for patrolling and escort. In the definition adopted by the British Admiralty, they were rated ships of at least 28 guns, carrying their principal armaments upon a single continuous deck – the upper deck – while ships of the line possessed two or more continuous decks bearing batteries of guns.

In the late 19th century (beginning about 1858 with the construction of prototypes by the British and French navies), the armoured frigate was a type of ironclad warship that for a time was the most powerful type of vessel afloat. The term "frigate" was used because such ships still mounted their principal armaments on a single continuous upper deck.

In modern navies, frigates are used to protect other warships and merchant-marine ships, especially as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) combatants for amphibious expeditionary forces, underway replenishment groups, and merchant convoys. Ship classes dubbed "frigates" have also more closely resembled corvettes, destroyers, cruisers and even battleships. Some European navies such as the French, German or Spanish ones use the term "frigate" for both their destroyers and frigates. The rank "frigate captain" derives from the name of this type of ship.

George Dewey

George Dewey (December 26, 1837 – January 16, 1917) was Admiral of the Navy, the only person in United States history to have attained the rank. He is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War.

Born in Montpelier, Vermont, Dewey entered the United States Naval Academy in 1854. He graduated from the academy in 1858 and was assigned as the executive lieutenant of the USS Mississippi at the beginning of the Civil War. He participated in the capture of New Orleans and the Siege of Port Hudson, helping the Union take control of the Mississippi River. By the end of the war, Dewey reached the rank of lieutenant commander.

After the Civil War, Dewey undertook a variety of assignments, serving on multiple ships and as an instructor at the Naval Academy. He also served on the United States Lighthouse Board and the Board of Inspection and Survey. He was promoted to Commodore in 1896 and assigned to the Asiatic Squadron the following year. After that appointment, he began preparations for a potential war with Spain, which broke out in April 1898. Immediately after the beginning of the war, Dewey led an attack on Manila Bay, sinking the entire Spanish Pacific fleet while suffering only minor casualties. After the battle, his fleet assisted in the capture of Manila. Dewey's victory at Manila Bay was widely lauded in the United States, and he was promoted to Admiral of the Navy in 1903.

Dewey explored a run for the 1900 Democratic presidential nomination, but he withdrew from the race and endorsed President William McKinley. He served on the General Board of the United States Navy, an important policy-making body, from 1900 until his death in 1917.

Great White Fleet

The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the powerful United States Navy battle fleet that completed a journey around the globe from 16 December 1907, to 22 February 1909, by order of United States President Theodore Roosevelt. Its mission was to make friendly courtesy visits to numerous countries, while displaying new U.S. naval power to the world.

It consisted of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, along with various escorts. Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American military power and blue-water navy capability. Hoping to enforce treaties and protect overseas holdings, the United States Congress appropriated funds to build American naval power. Beginning in the 1880s with just 90 small ships, over one-third of them wooden and therefore obsolete, the navy quickly grew to include new modern steel fighting vessels. The hulls of these ships were painted a stark white, giving the armada the nickname "Great White Fleet".

Independence-class aircraft carrier

The Independence-class aircraft carriers were a class of light carriers built for the United States Navy that served during World War II.

John Hubbard (admiral)

Rear Admiral John Hubbard (19 May 1849 – 30 May 1932) was an officer in the United States Navy. He fought in the Spanish–American War, played a prominent role in the independence of Panama from Colombia in 1903, and served as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet.

John M. Carmody

John Michael Carmody (1881 – November 11, 1963) was an American administrator, noted as editor of Factory and Industrial Management, and as administrator of the Rural Electrification Administration and the Federal Works Agency in the 1930s.

Mark Lambert Bristol

Mark Lambert Bristol (April 17, 1868 – May 13, 1939) was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy.

North Carolina-class battleship

The North Carolina class was a class of two fast battleships, North Carolina and Washington, built for the United States Navy in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The navy was originally uncertain whether the ships should be fast enough to counter the Japanese Kongō class, which was believed by the United States to be capable of 26 kn (48 km/h; 30 mph), or should sacrifice speed for additional firepower and armor. The Second London Naval Treaty's requirement that all capital ships have a standard displacement of under 35,000 LT (35,600 t) prevented the desired objectives from being fully realized within its limits, and the navy considered over fifty designs before one was chosen.

Towards the end of this lengthy design period the General Board of the United States Navy declared its preference for a battleship with a speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph), faster than any in US service or under construction, with a main battery of nine 14-inch (356 mm)/50 caliber Mark B guns. The board believed that such ships could fulfill a multitude of roles, as they would have enough protection to be put into a battle line while also having enough speed to escort aircraft carriers or engage in commerce raiding. However, the acting Secretary of the Navy authorized a modified version of a different design, which in its original form had been rejected by the General Board. This called for a 27-knot (50 km/h; 31 mph) ship with twelve 14-inch guns in quadruple turrets and protection against guns of the same caliber. In a major departure from traditional American design practices, this design accepted lower speed and protection in exchange for maximum firepower. After construction had begun, the United States became concerned over Japan's refusal to commit to the caliber limit of the Second London Naval Treaty, so they invoked the "escalator clause" of that pact and increased the class' main armament to nine 16-inch (406 mm)/45 Mark 6 caliber guns from the original twelve 14-inch guns.

Both North Carolina and Washington saw extensive service during the Second World War in a variety of roles, primarily in the Pacific theater where they escorted fast carrier task forces and conducted shore bombardments. North Carolina shot down between seven and fourteen Japanese aircraft in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, and later sustained a torpedo hit from a Japanese submarine. During the naval battle of Guadalcanal, which was a chaotic night engagement, Washington's radar-directed main batteries fatally damaged the Japanese battleship Kirishima causing it to sink the next day. In February 1944, Washington crushed its bow in a collision with battleship Indiana. Following repairs, Washington rejoined her sister for the Battle of the Philippine Sea. After the end of the war, both ships took part in Operation Magic Carpet, the withdrawal of American military personnel from overseas deployments. The vessels were laid up in the reserve fleet until the early 1960s, when North Carolina was sold to her home state as a museum ship, and Washington was broken up for scrap.

O'Brien-class destroyer

The O'Brien class of destroyers was a class of six ships designed by and built for the United States Navy shortly before the United States entered World War I. The O'Brien class was the third of five classes of destroyers that were known as the "thousand tonners", because they were the first U.S. destroyers over 1,000 long tons (1,016 t) displacement.

The design of what became the O'Brien class was the result of discussions between the General Board of the United States Navy and the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Ordnance. What resulted was a design that was an incremental development of the Aylwin class, which itself was similar to the first of the thousand tonners, the Cassin class (which displaced about a third more than the preceding Paulding class). The key difference in the O'Brien class was the increase in torpedo size, going up to 21 inches (533 mm) from the preceding classes' 18-inch (457 mm) torpedoes.

The ships had a median displacement of 1,050 long tons (1,070 t), were just over 305 feet (93 m) in length, and had a beam of about 31 feet (9.4 m). All of the ships had two direct-drive steam turbines and a combination of other engines for cruising at speeds less than 15 knots (28 km/h). All of the ships were designed for a maximum speed of 29 knots (54 km/h). As built, they were armed with four 4-inch (102 mm) guns and had four twin 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes with a load of eight torpedoes, but all were later equipped with depth charges. The ships were built by four private American shipyards—Bath Iron Works, Fore River Shipbuilding Company, New York Shipbuilding Corporation, and William Cramp & Sons—and were laid down between September and November 1913; launched between April 1914 and February 1915; and commissioned into the U.S. Navy between June 1914 and August 1915.

All six ships operated in the Atlantic or Caribbean until the U.S. entrance into World War I in April 1917, when all six were sent overseas to Queenstown, Ireland, for convoy escort duties. Several of the ships rescued passengers and crew from ships sunk by U-boats, and several had encounters with U-boats themselves; Nicholson helped sink U-58 in November 1917, the first U-boat sunk by the U.S. Navy. All six members of the class had returned to the United States in January 1919 and were decommissioned by June 1922. In 1924, two of the six—Ericsson and McDougal—were commissioned into the United States Coast Guard to help enforce Prohibition as a part of the "Rum Patrol". They were returned to U.S. Navy custody in 1932 and 1933, respectively. All six ships had been sold for scrapping by June 1936.

President of the Naval War College

The President of the Naval War College is a flag officer in the United States Navy. The President's House in Newport, Rhode Island is his official residence.

The office of the president was created along with the Naval War College as a whole by U.S. Navy General Order 325, signed by United States Secretary of the Navy William E. Chandler on 6 October 1884. The order stipulated that a commissioned officer of the Navy no lower in grade than commander be in charge of the college and that that officer's title be "president." It also directed that the president be presiding officer of a board consisting of the president and all of the college's faculty and responsible for determining the professional course of study for students at the college.General Order 325 identified the college's first president as Commodore Stephen B. Luce, who took office on the day Chandler signed the order. No commander ever has served as president, and the last captain to serve as president left the position in 1913, after which all presidents have been flag officers. Since 1948, all presidents of the Naval War College have been vice admirals or rear admirals.While college activities were suspended during the Spanish–American War, the presidency was vacant. When activities were again suspended during World War I, and during periods since World War I between the departure of an outgoing president and the arrival of a successor, acting presidents have administered the college until a new president reported for duty.The college counts individuals who serve more than once as president as a separate president for each tour for purposes of chronological numbering of the presidents. Acting presidents are not counted.The presidency of the Naval War College is one of only four positions in the United States Navy which has an official portrait associated with it, the others being the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. The Naval War College Museum holds in its collection the official portraits of all but ten of the presidents, including all presidents since 1939.

Raymond P. Rodgers

Rear Admiral Raymond Perry Rodgers (December 20, 1849 – December 28, 1925) was an officer in the United States Navy. He served as the second head of the Office of Naval Intelligence and as the 12th President of the Naval War College and fought in the Spanish–American War.

Rodgers' father was Rear Admiral Christopher Raymond Perry Rodgers (1819–1892), and he was the brother of Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rodgers (1858–1931). He was also the grandnephew to two renowned U.S. Navy commodores, Matthew C. Perry (1794–1858) and Oliver Hazard Perry (1785–1819).

Robert Alfred Theobald

Robert Alfred Theobald (25 January 1884 – 13 May 1957), nicknamed "Fuzzy", was a United States Navy officer who served in World War I and World War II, and achieved the rank of rear admiral. In retirement, he was the author of the 1954 book The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor: The Washington Background of the Pearl Harbor Attack.

SC-1-class submarine chaser

The SC-1 class was a large class of submarine chasers built during World War I for the United States Navy. They were ordered in very large numbers in order to combat attacks by German U-boats, with 442 boats built from 1917 to 1919.

Spencer S. Wood

Rear Admiral Spencer Shepard Wood (7 August 1861 – 30 July 1940) was a United States Navy officer. His career included service in the Spanish–American War and World War I, command of battleships and cruisers, and duty as an aide to a number of senior naval leaders.

Tucker-class destroyer

The Tucker class of destroyers was a ship class of six ships designed by and built for the United States Navy shortly before the United States entered World War I. The Tucker class was the fourth of five classes of destroyers that were known as the "thousand tonners", because they were the first U.S. destroyers over 1,000 long tons (1,016 t) displacement.

The design of what became the Tucker class was the result of compromises between the General Board of the United States Navy and the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Construction and Repair. The General Board, tasked with creating an integrated battle fleet, wanted a larger ship that could serve in a scouting role and proposed a ship larger than the unique British destroyer HMS Swift of 1907, and more than twice the displacement of any previous U.S. destroyer. Input from Construction and Repair resulted in a design that was an incremental development of the O'Brien class, which itself was similar to the first of the thousand tonners, the Cassin class (which displaced about a third more than the preceding Paulding class).

The ships were built by four private American shipyards—Bath Iron Works, Fore River Shipbuilding Company, New York Shipbuilding Corporation, and William Cramp & Sons—and were laid down between February and November 1914; launched between April and July 1915; and commissioned into the U.S. Navy between July 1915 and May 1916. The ships had a median displacement of 1,060 long tons (1,080 t), were just over 315 feet (96 m) in length, and had a beam of about 30 feet (9.1 m). Most of the ships had two direct-drive steam turbines and a single geared cruising turbine; Wadsworth was equipped with two geared steam turbines only and, as the first U.S. destroyer so equipped, greatly influenced later U.S. Navy destroyer designs. All of the ships were designed for a maximum speed of 29.5 knots (54.6 km/h) and a range of 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 km) at more economical speeds. As built, they were armed with four 4-inch (10 cm) guns and had four twin 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes with a load of eight torpedoes, but all were later equipped with depth charges.

All six ships operated in the Atlantic or Caribbean until the U.S. entrance into World War I in April 1917, when all six were sent overseas to Queenstown, Ireland, for convoy escort duties. Several of the ships rescued passengers and crew from ships sunk by U-boats, and several had encounters with U-boats themselves; Jacob Jones was torpedoed and sunk by U-58 in December 1917. All five surviving members of the class had returned to the United States by early 1919 and been decommissioned by June 1922. Between 1924 and 1926, four of the five (all but Wadsworth) were commissioned into the United States Coast Guard to help enforce Prohibition as a part of the "Rum Patrol". They were returned to U.S. Navy custody between 1934 and 1936, and had all been sold for scrapping by 1936.

USS Conyngham (DD-58)

USS Conyngham (Destroyer No. 58/DD-58) was a Tucker-class destroyer built for the United States Navy prior to the American entry into World War I. The ship was the first U.S. Navy vessel named for Gustavus Conyngham.

Conyngham was laid down by the William Cramp & Sons of Philadelphia, in July 1914 and launched in July of the following year. The ship was a little more than 315 feet (96 m) in length, just over 30 feet (9.1 m) abeam, and had a standard displacement of 1,090 long tons (1,110 t). She was armed with four 4-inch (10 cm) guns and had eight 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes. Conyngham was powered by a pair of steam turbines that propelled her at up to 29.5 knots (54.6 km/h).

After her January 1916 commissioning, Conyngham sailed in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Conyngham was part of the first U.S. destroyer squadron sent overseas. Patrolling the Irish Sea out of Queenstown, Ireland, Conyngham made several rescues of passengers and crew from ships sunk by U-boats. Conyngham's commander was commended for actions related to what was thought at the time to be a "probable" kill of a German submarine.

Upon returning to the United State in December 1918, Conyngham underwent repairs at the Boston Navy Yard. She remained there in reduced commission through 1921, with only brief episodes of activity. After returning to active service for about a year, she was decommissioned in June 1922. In June 1924, Conyngham was transferred to the United States Coast Guard to help enforce Prohibition as a part of the "Rum Patrol". She operated under the name USCGC Conyngham (CG-2) until 1933, when she was returned to the Navy. Later that year, the ship was renamed DD-58 to free the name Conyngham for another destroyer. She was sold for scrap in August 1934.

William John Maxwell

William John Maxwell was a United States Navy officer who served as the 18th Naval Governor of Guam. He entered the United States Naval Academy in 1874, but was not commissioned as an ensign until 1883. He served aboard many ships before becoming one of the inaugural members of the General Board of the United States Navy. Afterward, he commanded both USS Mississippi and USS Florida.

After becoming governor in 1914, Maxwell instituted a number of reforms, including establishing the Bank of Guam and the Guam Insular Patrol Force. He also reorganized the tax system and stressed the building and improvement of new roads. His plans to give Guamanians United States citizenship was rejected by then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Guam became the center an international relations incident when the German SMS Cormoran made port there asking for coal at a time when the United States remained neutral in World War I. Maxwell refused to break neutrality by providing fuel and supplies, forcing the ship to stay in port for the next two years. Maxwell attracted controversy during his term, particularly when he approved the first execution on the island since the US takeover. Eventually, a lower-ranking officer, William P. Cronan, placed Maxwell on the sick list, despite his protest, and removed him from power, taking the office himself. The Navy launched an inquiry into the appropriateness and motives of the dismissal, but nonetheless, Maxwell, declared perfectly healthy by mainland doctors, was reassigned to the Naval War College.

William Ledyard Rodgers

William Ledyard Rodgers (February 4, 1860 – May 7, 1944) was a vice admiral of the United States Navy. His career included service in the Spanish–American War and World War I, and a tour as President of the Naval War College. Rodgers was also a noted historian on military and naval topics, particularly relating to ancient naval warfare.

He was the third generation in a well-known family of able naval officers. He was the son of Rear Admiral John Rodgers (1812–1882), who fought in the Second Seminole War (1839–1842) and the American Civil War (1861–1865), and the grandson of Commodore John Rodgers (1772–1838), who fought in the War of 1812 (1812–1814). Rodgers's own son, John Rodgers, born in 1881, also served as a U.S. Navy officer and was an early aviator, reaching the rank of commander before dying in a plane crash in 1926.

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