Skip to main content

The Navy Department Library

Related Content

Adapted from "Rear Admiral Charles Kniese Bergin, United States Navy, Deceased" [biography, dated 7 December 1964] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library.

Adapted from "Rear Admiral Charles Kniese Bergin, United States Navy, Deceased"
[biography, dated 7 December 1964] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library.
  • Ordnance and Weapons
Document Type
  • Biography
Wars & Conflicts
  • Korean Conflict 1950-1954
  • World War II 1939-1945
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials
  • NHHC-Library

Charles Kniese Bergin

25 January 1904-6 December 1964

Photo of Rear Admiral Charles K. Bergin copied from page 239 of the 1923 edition of the U.S. Naval Academy yearbook 'Lucky Bag'.

PDF Version [1.5MB]

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Charles Kniese Bergin attended the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and Johns Hopkins University, prior to entering the Naval Academy in 1923. Following graduation in 1927, he had seven years’ duty afloat in the battleship Maryland, the destroyers Gilmer and Blakely and in the destroyer tender Dobbin. In 1937 he completed a course in ordnance engineering at the Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Maryland and subsequently served as Gunnery and Executive Officer of USS Ralph Talbot and later as Assistant Operations and Gunnery Officer on the Staff of Commander Destroyers, US Pacific Fleet.

At the outbreak of World War II, he was engaged in research, development and service test of ordnance as Experimental Officer at the Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren, Virginia. Ordered to duty afloat in 1944, he commanded USS Monssen, participating in operations at Saipan, Marcus Island, Palau Island, and the Leyte landings. He was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism during the Battle of Surigao Straits, October 24-25, 1944. Continuing service in the Pacific, he commanded Destroyer Division ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-TWO, a radar picket group off Okinawa, until after the cessation of hostilities. Later in 1945 he became Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations on the Staff of Commander FIFTH Amphibious Force, with duty in connection with the occupation of Japan.

Between 1946 and 1949 he was Project Coordinator on the Staff of Commander Operational Development Force and, as such, directed all departments in conducting evaluation of new technical developments and new concepts of tactics. He was Program Director for Gun Systems in the Planning Division, Bureau of Ordnance until 1951, during which time he completed a course in advanced management at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

Following instruction at the National War College, Washington, DC, he assumed command in 1952, of USS Des Moines, which operated as flagship of Commander SIXTH (Mediterranean) Fleet during NATO exercises “MAINBRACE” and “LONGSTEP.” He was Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance for Research from the summer of 1953 until December 1955, after which he served as Commander Destroyer Flotilla THREE and Commander Destroyer Flotilla ONE. He was Director, Near East, South Asia and Africa Region, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs), Washington, DC, from December 1956 until April 1959, when he assumed command of Mine Force, Pacific Fleet.

In August 1960 he became Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force, and in August 1963 reported as Superintendent of the US Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He was serving in that assignment at the time of his death, December 6, 1964, at the US Army Hospital, Fort Ord, California.

7 December 1964

Rear Admiral Charles K. Bergin

United States Navy, Deceased

Place and Date or Birth: Baltimore, Maryland, January 25, 1904

Parents: Denis Lee and Katherine Kniese Bergin

Wife’s Name and Date of Marriage: Katherine Philbrick, daughter of Captain Manning H. Philbrick, USN, Ret. and Mrs. Philbrick, married on October 21, 1936

Children: Mrs. Cecelia J. Robbins, Katherine D. Bergin and Patricia R. Bergin

Official Home Address (at time of death): Rye Center, Rye, New Hampshire

Education: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Naval Academy; Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Md.; Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration; National War College, Washington, DC.


Ensign, June 2, 1927

Lieutenant (jg), June 2, 1930

Lieutenant, June 30, 1936

Lieutenant Commander, November 1, 1941

Commander, September 10, 1942

Captain, March 20, 1945

Rear Admiral, July 1, 1955

Medals and Decorations:

Navy Cross

Bronze Star Medal, Combat “V”

Letter of Commendation (Ribbon and Combat “V”)

American Defense Service Medal with star

American Campaign Medal

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with six stars

World War II Victory Medal

Navy Occupation Service Medal, Europe and Asia Clasps

National Defense Service Medal

Philippine Liberation Ribbon with two stars


Navy Cross: “For extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of the USS Monssen in action against major units of the enemy Japanese Fleet during the Battle of Surigao Strait, Philippine Islands, October 24 to 25, 1944. When United States destroyer units deployed in a flanking maneuver as tactically disposed PT boats opened fire on a formidable column of Japanese battleships, cruisers and destroyers advancing under cover of darkness towards our waiting force, (he) placed the Monssen in an advantageous striking position within close range of the enemy force. Although silhouetted by the illuminating glare of star shells, and under hostile fire, he launched his torpedoes with precise timing in the second coordinated attack thereby rendering the enemy vulnerable to the smashing blows of our heavy naval units. Subsequently retiring without damage from the furious engagement which resulted in the sinking of two Japanese battleships and three destroyers before effective return fire could be brought to bear upon our Task Force, Bergin, by his forceful leadership, professional ability and determination in the face of tremendous odds, contributed materially to the decisive defeat of the enemy force…”

Bronze Star Medal: “For meritorious achievement as Commander of Destroyer Division ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-TWO, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Western Pacific War Area from March 14 to April 30, 1945. Skillfully directing his division during numerous combat operations against the enemy (he) contributed materially to the destruction of eight enemy planes…”

Letter of Commendation: “For distinguishing himself by meritorious achievement in connection with operations against the enemy on March 18-19, 1945, while serving as a Commander of a Destroyer Division in the Western Pacific. While three ships of his command were acting as part of a screen for a Carrier Task Group, the formation was under heavy enemy air attack for nearly thirty-six hours. During this period, a total of ten planes were shot down by ships of the Task Group…”

Chronological Transcript of Service:

Jul 1927-May 1930                                         USS Maryland                                       
May 1930-Oct 1930 USS Gilmer
Oct 1930-May 1931 Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla. (instruction)
May 1931-May 1933 USS Blakeley
May 1933-May 1934 USS Dobbin
May 1934-May 1937 Postgraduate School, Annapolis, Md. (student)
May 1937-Jun 1939 USS Ralph Talbot
Jun 1939-Jan 1940 USS Detroit
Jan 1940-Jun 1941 Staff, Commander Destroyers, Battle Force
Jun 1941-May 1944 Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren, Va. (Assistant
  Experimental Officer)
May 1944-Dec 1944 USS Monsen (Commanding Officer)
Dec 1944-Jun 1945 Commander Destroyer Division 122
Jun 1945-Oct 1945 Staff, Commander FIFTH Amphibious Force
Oct 1945-Jan 1949 Staff, Commander Operational Development Force,
  U.S. Fleet
Jan 1949-Aug 1949 Bureau of Ordance, Navy Dept., Wash., D.c.
Aug 1949-Aug 1951 Bu0rd (Director of Gun System Programs)
Aug 1951-Jun 1952 National War College, Wash., D.C. (instruction)
Jul 1952-Jul 1953 USS Des Moines (CO)
Jul 1953-Dec 1955 Bu0rd (Assistant Chief of Bureau for Research)
Dec 1955-Oct 1956 Destroyer Flotilla THREE (Commander)
Dec 1956-Apr 1959 Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense (Inter-
  national Security Affairs), Wash., D.C.
Apr 1959- Commander Mine Force, Pacific Fleet
Aug 1960- Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force
Aug 1963 Superintendent, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School,
  Monterey, California
6 Dec 1964 Died at U.S. Army Hospital, Fort Ord, California



Published: Wed Apr 01 09:06:42 EDT 2020