History of United States Naval Operations in World War II

The History of United States Naval Operations in World War II is a 15-volume account of the United States Navy in World War II, written by Samuel Eliot Morison and published by Little, Brown and Company between 1947 and 1962.

History of United States Naval Operations in World War II
History of United States Naval Operations in World War II Vol 1
Original cover of the first book in the series, The Battle of the Atlantic

AuthorSamuel Eliot Morison
CountryUnited States
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
Media typePrint


Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Morison, already convinced of the value of personal involvement as a result of sailing experience while writing his biography of Christopher Columbus, wrote to President Roosevelt suggesting the preparation of an official history of the Navy in the war, and volunteering for the task. Both President Roosevelt and the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox agreed, and in May 1942 Morison was commissioned as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Naval Reserve, and assigned a staff of assistants, with permission to go anywhere and to see all official records. Morison's reputation as a knowledgeable sailor (based on his analysis in the biography of Christopher Columbus) preceded him, and he was welcomed on a number of ships, eleven of them in all by the end of the war.[1]

The result was a normal historical work, not a prescribed official history. Limitations of the History of U.S. Naval Operations are mostly due to its shortened period of publication. Some material, especially related to codebreaking, was still classified, and later in-depth research into particular occurrences in the war did clarify points that had been passed over rather lightly. Some rewriting was incorporated in the later printings of this series. This History of U.S. Naval Operations also intentionally avoided a certain amount of analysis, for instance deferring to other works for the causes of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor. The intended audience for the work, to quote from the preface, was "the general reader rather than the professional sailor."


The volumes:

  1. The Battle of the Atlantic, September 1939 – May 1943
  2. Operations in North African Waters, October 1942 – June 1943
  3. The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931 – April 1942
  4. Coral Sea, Midway, and Submarine Actions, May 1942 – August 1942
  5. The Struggle for Guadalcanal, August 1942 – February 1943
  6. Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, July 22, 1942 – May 1, 1944
  7. Aleutians, Gilberts, and Marshalls, June 1942 – April 1944
  8. New Guinea and the Marianas, March 1944 – August 1944
  9. Sicily – Salerno – Anzio, January 1943 – June 1944
  10. The Atlantic Battle Won, May 1943 – May 1945
  11. The Invasion of France and Germany, 1944–1945
  12. Leyte, June 1944 – January 1945
  13. The Liberation of the Philippines: Luzon, Mindanao, the Visayas, 1944–1945
  14. Victory in the Pacific, 1945
  15. Supplement and General Index

An abridgement of the fifteen-volume work entitled The Two-Ocean War; A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War was written by Morison and published in 1963.[2]


This History of U.S. Naval Operations also played an indirect role in the history of television. One of Morison's research assistants in the project, Henry Salomon, knew NBC's Robert Sarnoff and, in 1949, first proposed an ambitious documentary TV series on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps warfare in World War II. In 1951 the National Broadcasting Company hired Salomon to produce what would become the 1952-53 TV series, Victory at Sea. The success of this TV series played a major role in establishing the historic documentary--using combat footage--as a viable television genre.


  1. ^ "Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, US Naval Reserve". Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved December 28, 2014.
  2. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Two-Ocean War; A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War. Boston: Little, Brown, 1963.
Frank J. Lowry

Vice Admiral Frank Jacob Lowry (15 February 1888 – 26 March 1955) was an officer in the United States Navy who served in World War I and World War II. A 1911 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he served on submarines during World War I. During World War II, he commanded the cruiser USS Minneapolis at the Battle of the Coral Sea, for which he was awarded the Navy Cross, and the Battle of Midway. He commanded the VIII Amphibious Force in the landings at Anzio and Southern France. He retired from the Navy in March 1950, and received a tombstone promotion to vice admiral due to his combat decorations.

G7es torpedo

The G7es (T5) "Zaunkönig" ("wren") was a passive acoustic torpedo employed by German U-boats during World War II. It was called the GNAT (German Navy Acoustic Torpedo) by the British.

Japanese destroyer Akebono (1930)

Akebono (曙, "Daybreak") was the eighteenth of twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyers, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War.

Japanese destroyer Hatsuyuki (1928)

Hatsuyuki (初雪, "First Snow") was the third of twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War.

Jinichi Kusaka

Jinichi Kusaka (草鹿 任一, Kusaka Jin'ichi, 7 December 1888 – 24 August 1972), was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Fellow Admiral Ryūnosuke Kusaka was his cousin.

Kula Gulf

Kula Gulf is a waterway in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. It lies between the islands of Kolombangara to the west, Arundel Island (Kohinggo) to the southwest, and New Georgia to the south and east. To the north, it opens into New Georgia Sound ("the Slot"). To the southwest, it connects via Blackett Strait to Vella Gulf and the Solomon Sea.

During the Solomon Islands campaign in World War II, two minor naval battles between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy were fought here in July, 1943. The first was the Battle of Kula Gulf fought on the night of 5–6 July 1943. In that engagement, the cruiser USS Helena was sunk.

The second battle was the Battle of Kolombangara fought on the night of 12–13 July 1943. In that engagement, the destroyer USS Gwin and the Japanese cruiser Jintsū were sunk.

Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company

Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, was a major shipbuilder for the Great Lakes. It was founded in 1902, and made mainly steel ferries and ore haulers. During World War II, it built submarines, tank landing craft (LCTs), and self-propelled fuel barges called "YOs". Employment peaked during the military years at 7000. The shipyard closed in 1968, when Manitowoc Company bought Bay Shipbuilding Company and moved their shipbuilding operation to Sturgeon Bay.

Mineichi Koga

Mineichi Koga (古賀 峯一, Koga Mineichi, 25 September 1885 – 31 March 1944) was a Japanese Marshal Admiral and commander-in-chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy's Combined Fleet.

Oropesa (minesweeping)

An Oropesa is a streamlined towed body used in the process of minesweeping. The role of the Oropesa is to keep the towed sweep at a determined depth and position from the sweeping ship. Oropesa are standard devices used on Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships.The device derives its name from the ship on which it was developed, HMS Oropesa, a British trawler.

Samuel Eliot Morison

Samuel Eliot Morison (July 9, 1887 – May 15, 1976) was an American historian noted for his works of maritime history and American history that were both authoritative and popular. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1912, and taught history at the university for 40 years. He won Pulitzer Prizes for Admiral of the Ocean Sea (1942), a biography of Christopher Columbus, and John Paul Jones: A Sailor's Biography (1959). In 1942, he was commissioned to write a history of United States naval operations in World War II, which was published in 15 volumes between 1947 and 1962. Morison wrote the popular Oxford History of the American People (1965), and co-authored the classic textbook The Growth of the American Republic (1930) with Henry Steele Commager.

Over the course of his career, Morison received eleven honorary doctoral degrees, and garnered numerous literary prizes, military honors, and national awards from both foreign countries and the United States, including two Pulitzer Prizes, two Bancroft Prizes, the Balzan Prize, the Legion of Merit, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Shigeyoshi Miwa

Shigeyoshi Miwa (三輪 茂義, Miwa Shigeyoshi, May 15, 1892 – February 27, 1959), was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. He commanded the Japanese submarine forces during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Susumu Kimura

Susumu Kimura (木村 進, Kimura Susumu, June 1, 1891 – March 16, 1980), was an admiral in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. He commanded Destroyer Squadron 10 which participated in several important naval battles at the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal Campaign, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Task Force 11

Task Force 11 (TF 11 or alternately Commander Task Force 11, CTF 11) is a designation that has been used by the United States armed forces for two separate units.

Task Force 16

Task Force 16 (TF16) was one of the most storied task forces in the United States Navy, a major participant in a number of the most important battles of the Pacific War.

It was formed in mid-February 1942 around Enterprise (CV-6), with Vice Admiral William F. Halsey in command of the force, and supported by cruisers Salt Lake City (CA-25) and Northampton (CA-26), along with a half-dozen destroyers.

The task force's first mission was to shell Wake Island and Marcus Island, then, joined by Hornet (CV-8) and the rest of Task Force 18 (TF18), in April the force conducted the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. In May Halsey was ordered to join Task Force 17 (TF17) in the Coral Sea, but the Battle of the Coral Sea was over before TF 16 could join in.

Halsey was then hospitalized with a skin disease, so Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance took over TF 16 and along with TF 17, led it to victory in the Battle of Midway.

In August, the task force supported the landings on Guadalcanal, then fought in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, followed by the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands in October, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November, and covered the retreat of TF 18 after the Battle of Rennell Island.

In March 1943, TG 16.6 fought the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, then bombarded Attu in April, and the whole force supported the recapture of the Aleutians in the Battle of Attu.

In 1944 and 1945, the task force was a refueling unit consisting of destroyer escorts and oilers.

Task Force 17

Task Force 17 (TF17) was an aircraft carrier task force of the United States Navy during the Pacific Campaign of World War II. TF17 participated in several major carrier battles in the first year of the war.

TF17 was initially centered around USS Yorktown. With Yorktown, TF17 engaged Imperial Japanese Navy forces in actions at the Marshalls-Gilberts raids, Invasion of Lae-Salamaua, Battle of the Coral Sea, and the Battle of Midway. Yorktown was sunk at Midway.

Reformed around USS Hornet and commanded by RADM George Murray, TF17 supported Allied forces during the Guadalcanal Campaign. At the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Hornet was sunk. After the battle the task force ceased to exist, the remaining ships (the cruiser and destroyer escorts) were then dispersed to other duties.

The Two-Ocean War

The Two Ocean War by U.S. naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison, is a short version of his multi-volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. This one-volume book is quite similar to the longer version.

Published 1963 by Little, Brown and Company, Library of Congress Catalog 63-8307 (first ed.).

Thomas C. Kinkaid

Thomas Cassin Kinkaid (3 April 1888 – 17 November 1972) served as an admiral in the United States Navy during World War II. He built a reputation as a "fighting admiral" in the aircraft carrier battles of 1942 and commanded the Allied forces in the Aleutian Islands Campaign. He was Commander Allied Naval Forces and the Seventh Fleet under General of the Army Douglas MacArthur in the Southwest Pacific Area, where he conducted numerous amphibious operations, and commanded an Allied fleet during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, largest naval battle of World War II and the last naval battle between battleships in history.

Born into a naval family, Kinkaid was ranked in the lower half of his class on his graduation from the United States Naval Academy in June 1908. His early commissioned service was spent aboard battleships. In 1913, he began instruction in ordnance engineering and served in that field for many years. He saw action during the 1916 United States occupation of the Dominican Republic. During World War I, he was attached to the Royal Navy before serving as Gunnery Officer aboard the battleship USS Arizona. After the war, he was Assistant Chief of Staff to the Commander U.S. Naval Detachment in Turkey. Kinkaid received his first command, the destroyer USS Isherwood, in 1924. He was executive officer of the battleship USS Colorado when the 1933 Long Beach earthquake struck, and participated in relief efforts. He received his second command in 1937, the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis.

From 1938 to 1941, Kinkaid was a naval attaché in Italy and Yugoslavia. In the months prior to U.S. entry into World War II, he commanded a destroyer squadron. Promoted to rear admiral in 1941, he assumed command of a U.S. Pacific Fleet cruiser division. His cruisers defended the aircraft carrier USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea and USS Hornet during the Battle of Midway. After that battle, he took command of Task Force 16, a task force built around the carrier USS Enterprise, which he led during the long and difficult Solomon Islands campaign, participating in the Battles of the Eastern Solomons and the Santa Cruz Islands. Kinkaid was placed in charge of the North Pacific Force in January 1943 and commanded the operations that regained control of the Aleutian Islands. He was promoted to vice admiral in June 1943.

In November 1943, Kinkaid became Commander Allied Naval Forces South West Pacific Area, and Commander of the Seventh Fleet, directing U.S. and Royal Australian Navy forces supporting the New Guinea campaign. During the Battle of the Surigao Strait, he commanded the Allied ships in the last naval battle between battleships in history. Following the demise of Japanese naval power in the region, the Allied navies supported the campaigns in the Philippines and Borneo. Kinkaid was promoted to admiral on 3 April 1945. After the Pacific War ended in August 1945, the Seventh Fleet assisted in operations on the Korean and China coasts. Admiral Kinkaid was Commander Eastern Sea Frontier and the Sixteenth Fleet from 1946 until his retirement in May 1950. He was a member of the National Security Training Commission for much of the rest of the decade. He also served with the American Battle Monuments Commission for 15 years.

Tokyo Express

The Tokyo Express was the name given by Allied forces to the use of Imperial Japanese Navy ships at night to deliver personnel, supplies, and equipment to Japanese forces operating in and around New Guinea and the Solomon Islands during the Pacific campaign of World War II. The operation involved loading personnel or supplies aboard fast warships (mainly destroyers), later submarines, and using the warships' speed to deliver the personnel or supplies to the desired location and return to the originating base all within one night so Allied aircraft could not intercept them by day.

Vella Lavella

Vella Lavella is an island in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. It lies to the west of New Georgia, but is considered one of the New Georgia Group. To its west are the Treasury Islands.

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