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Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King

U.S. Navy

(23 November 1878 – 25 June 1956)

9th Chief of Naval Operations

(26 March 1942 – 15 December 1945)

Fleet Admiral King led the Navy to victory over the Axis navies in World War II. The strong-willed leader oversaw the enormous expansion of the U.S. fleet and its successful employment against America’s enemies in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mediterranean.

Born in Lorain, Ohio, Ernest J. King graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1901. In World War I, he was an assistant to the chief of staff of Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet. After the war, he gained experience in submarine operations. Shifting to naval aviation, he eventually rose to Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics. In 1941, as Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, King directed undeclared warfare against German U-boats that preyed on American shipping. When the United States entered World War II, he was appointed Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. Three months later, President Roosevelt named King Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations. He served in both positions for the remainder of the war. Congress promoted him to Fleet Admiral in December 1944. King was a strong advocate for the U.S. Navy in his dealings with the other U.S. armed forces and with America’s allies. King was instrumental in building a powerful battle fleet that defeated the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific and helped destroy the German U-boat menace in the Atlantic. USS King (DLG-10, later DDG-41) was commissioned in his honor.

Source: Biography compiled by the staff of the Naval Historical Center.

11 August 2008