Frank Hodges Clark was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 18, 1871, son of Frank H. and Mary F. (Philbrick) Clark. He attended public schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and was appointed to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from Rhode Island in 1889. Graduating with the Class of 1893, he served two years at sea as a Naval Cadet, then required by law, and was commissioned Ensign on July 1, 1895. He advanced to the rank of Captain on July 1918, having served in that rank (temporary) from August 31, 1917. He was appointed Rear Admiral on February 10, 1927, and held the rank of Vice Admiral while serving as Commander Scouting Force, from June 24, 1932, until June 1933. He was transferred to the Retired List of the US Navy on January 1, 1936.
During his service at sea as a Naval Cadet, he was assigned to USS Columbia and was on board USS Cushing, to which he had been transferred in May 1897, when commissioned Ensign in July of that year. He was then ordered to USS DuPont, and in that vessel, a unit of Commodore Schley’s Flying Squadron, he participated in the Battle of Santiago, Cuba, July 2, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. In November 1898 he was transferred to USS Lancaster, and in July of the next year he reported to the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, for instruction in torpedoes.
From September 1899 to May 1903 he had successive service on board USS Scorpion, in charge of the Engineering Department of USS Machias, and on board USS Illinois after her commissioning, September 16, 1901. On June 15, 1903, he reported for instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, and when detached in October 1903, he joined USS Alabama. On November 21, 1906 he became Assistant to the Inspector of Ordnance, Hartford (Connecticut) District. On September 1, 1907 he assumed duty as Navigator on board USS Tennessee. While still on board that battleship, he became Aide on the Staff of the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, (Tennessee, flagship); and still later served as Fleet Engineer, Pacific Fleet (Tennessee and California, flagship).
In May 1910 he reported for duty as Inspection Officer, Navy Yard, New York, and in September 1911 he became Assistant to the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, Washington, DC. Detached from the latter assignment in April 1914, he reported the next month to USS Utah, in which he served as Executive Officer for a year. On June 9, 1915 he assumed command of USS Baltimore, a unit of Mining and Mine Sweeping Division, Atlantic Fleet, and after a year in that command was assigned additional duty as Senior Aide to Commander, Mine Force, Atlantic Fleet.
A tour of duty in the Navy Department, Washington, DC, (1916-1918), included World War I service in the Bureau of Ordnance and as a member of a Board to consider the selection for location of a Government Armor Plant. He was transferred to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations on March 1, 1918, and served with the Joint Army and Navy Board on Division of Aeronautics Cognizance. On May 28, that year, he assumed command of USS Vermont, engaged in training crews for ships to be commissioned. In the rank of Captain at that time, he was awarded the Navy Cross “For exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility as Commanding Officer of the USS Vermont.”
In July 1919 he was detached from the Vermont for duty as Chief of Staff to Commander Battleship Squadron One, Pacific Fleet, and in June 1920 he was transferred to like duty with Commander Battleship Squadron 4 (and Division 8), Pacific Fleet, on board USS New York, flagship. In November 1920 he was detached to report to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, for a year’s instruction, and upon completion of the course he returned to the Navy Department for a year’s instruction, and upon completion of the course he returned to the Navy Department for a second tour of duty ending May 9, 1923, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
He commanded USS Maryland from May 1923 until June 1925, then reported for an assignment in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy with additional duty as Aide for Navy Yards. On June 9, 1927 he was detached, and later that month became Commander Destroyer Squadron, Scouting Fleet. From July 1929 until June 1930 he commanded Light Cruiser Divisions, Scouting Fleet, with additional duty as Commander of Light Cruiser Division Three, after which for three months he served as a member of the General Board, Navy Department. On October 18, 1930 he became Director of the Division of Fleet Training, Naval Operations, in which capacity he served until June 1932.
He was designated Commander Scouting Force, with the accompanying rank of Vice Admiral in July 21, 1932, and served in that command, USS Augusta, his flagship, until June 1933, when he reverted to his permanent rank of Rear Admiral. He was then named a Member of the General Board, Navy Department, and later became Chairman of the General Board. He served in that capacity until his retirement became effective on January 1, 1936, after forty-six years’ service in the Navy.
In addition to the Navy Cross, Rear Admiral Clark had the Spanish-American Campaign Medal, and the World War I Victory Medal.