Nevett Broke Atkins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 28, 1914, son of Captain L.M. Atkins, USN (Deceased) and Mrs. (Charlotte Murray Stelle) Atkins. He attended various public schools, Chestnut Hill (Pennsylvania) Academy, and Severn School, Severna Park, Maryland, prior to entering the U.S. Naval Academy as a Midshipman at large on June 11, 1931. While there he participated in athletics (water polo “N” and crew), and was active in the Naval Academy Young Men’s Christian Association. Graduated and commissioned Ensign on June 6, 1936, he subsequently advanced in rank, attaining that of Captain, to date from July 1, 1954.
Upon graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1935 he was assigned to the USS New Mexico, in which he served until September 1939 as a junior officer in Gunnery (AA), and from June 1938 as Air Defense Officer. During that period he qualified in deck, gunnery, communications and engineering. Attended AA and Broadside Gunnery Schools, and spent two months (TAD) on the USS Vega during the summer of 1938. He served in the newly commissioned USS Morris operated in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In October 1941 he was transferred to the USS Ellyson (DD-454), operating in the Atlantic, and was serving as her Gunnery Officer at the outbreak of World War II in December 1941. He continued duty in that capacity until July 1942, with additional duty as Acting Communication Officer, from January 1942.
In July 1942 he returned to Annapolis for the course Fleet in Sub-Surface Ordnance at the Naval Postgraduate School, and was graduated in June 1944. He then reported to the Staff of Commander Service Squadron 6, and during the period ending in July 1945 also served on the Staff of Commander Mine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. There he was officer in Charge, Mine Modification Unit, Mine Assembly Base and Mine Explosive Investigation Unit No. 4; and additionally served as Fleet Mine Readiness Officer and Head of the Technical and Operations Readiness Section for Mines and Mine Countermeasures and as Chief Staff Officer of the Administrative Command, Commander Mine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
“For meritorious service as Readiness and Training Officer on the Staff of Commander Minecraft, U.S. Pacific Fleet, during operations against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific War Area, from October 1944 to July 1945….” He was award the Bronze Star Medal. The Citation states that he “aided in the solution of the many problems attendant upon the preparation of mine craft vessels for combat operations… and effectively coordinated the various problems in connection with aircraft mining in the Pacific… (contributing) materially to the successful performance of mine craft in their operations against the enemy.
In July 1945 he assumed command of the USS Thomas E. Fraser (DM 24), with additional duty as Public Information Officer for Mine Force Pacific (Forward Area). Under his command that destroyer participated in support operations at Okinawa and in the post-war mine clearance of Japanese and China Sea water. He received a Letter of Commendation with Ribbon and Combat “V,” from the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, which follows in part:
“For meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services as Commanding Officer of the USS Thomas E. Fraser during mine sweeping operations in China and Japanese waters from 26 July to 2 September 1945. Demonstrating outstanding ability and initiative, he directed the vessel skillfully and efficiently and provided excellent navigational information for the minesweepers, thereby contributing materially to the successful completion of important minesweeping operations….”
Detached from command of the Thomas E. Fraser in July 1946, he became Operations Officer on the staff of Commanding Mine Force, Atlantic, and collaterally served as Mining and Intelligence Officer until February 1948. Ordered to the Navy Department, Washington, D.C., he was assigned to the Mines, Mining and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Section, Mine Warfare Branch, of the Undersea Warfare Division. He completed that tour of duty in November 1951, after which he commanded Min Squadron Four for fifteen months.
Duty as Operational Readiness and Training Officer on the Staff of Commander in Chief, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean preceded instruction, from August 1955 until June 1956, at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. From July 1956 to November 1958 he was on duty at the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department as Director of Underwater Weapons Systems, Research and Development Division.
On November 14, 1958, he relieved Captain G.H. Miller, USN, as Commanding Officer of the USS Elokomin (AO-55), a unit of Service Squadron Two. After of year he became Commander Destroyer Squadron Two, and on December 19, 1960, was ordered to duty as the Bureau of Naval Weapons Fleet Readiness Representation, Naval Air Station, Norfolk Virginia. Under orders of September 11, 1962, he now served in the Bureau of Naval Weapons Executive Director for Research, Development Test and Evaluation.
In addition to the Bronze Star Medal and the Commendation Ribbon with Combat “V,” Captain Atkins has the American Defense Service Medal with bronze “A”; the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three engagement stars: the American Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; Navy Occupation Service Medal; Asia Clasp; and the National Defense Service Medal.