King, Ernest, FADM

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Last Rank
Fleet Admiral
Last Primary NEC
132X-Unrestricted Line Officer - Naval Flight Officer
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1942-1945, 132X, CNO - OPNAV
Service Years
1897 - 1945
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by John (JED) Dupee (Harbor Pilot), BMC to remember King, Ernest (COMINCH/9th CNO), FADM.

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Home Town
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Last Address

Date of Passing
Jun 25, 1956
Location of Interment
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Other Comments:
King was intelligent and extremely capable, but controversial. Some consider him to have been one of the greatest admirals of the 20th century[citation needed]; others, however, point out that he never commanded ships or fleets at sea in war time, and that his anglophobia led him to make decisions which cost many Allied lives. He was considered rude and abrasive; as a result, King was loathed by many officers with whom he served.

He was... perhaps the most disliked Allied leader of World War II. Only British Field Marshal Montgomery may have had more enemies... King also loved parties and often drank to excess. Apparently, he reserved his charm for the wives of fellow naval officers. On the job, he "seemed always to be angry or annoyed." (John Ray Skates, The Invasion of Japan, ISBN 0-87249-972-3).

There was a tongue-in-cheek remark carried about by Naval personnel at the time that "Admiral King was the most even-tempered person in the United States Navy: He was angry 100% of the time!"
Roosevelt once described King as "... a man who shaves with a blow torch".

Someone once asked Admiral King if it was he who said, "When they get in trouble they send for the sons of bitches." He replied that he was not -- but that he would have said it if he had thought of it.

King has the reputation of having been an anglophobe. This outlook and his strong preference that the Pacific war should take first priority coloured his decisions at various times. He was the greatest critic of the Allies' "Europe first" strategy and he constantly argued that resources should be diverted to the Pacific War.

At the start of US involvement in World War II, King decided not to request blackouts on the U.S. eastern seaboard and not to convoy ships. Many attribute these decisions to King's anglophobia, as the convoys and seaboard blackouts were British proposals, and he was loath to have his much-beloved U.S Navy adopt any ideas from the Royal Navy. He also refused the loan of British convoy escorts when the USN had only a handful of suitable vessels.

Instead of convoys, King had the U.S Navy and Coast Guard perform regular anti-submarine patrols, but these patrols followed a regular schedule. U-boat commanders learned the schedule, and cooordinated their attacks to these schedules. Leaving the lights on in coastal towns illuminated merchant ships to the U-Boats. As a result, there were disastrous shipping losses - two million tons lost in a few months in early 1942. When convoys were introduced in May 1942 the U-boats' "second happy time" ended, with the loss of seven U-boats and a dramatic reduction in shipping losses. The same effect occurred when convoys were extended to the Caribbean: this proved that King's initial decision in this matter had been flawed.

Other questionable decisions were the refusal to allow long-range Liberators to be allocated to Atlantic patrols (thus allowing the U-boats a safe area in the middle of the Atlantic - the "Atlantic Gap"), the denial of adequate numbers of landing craft to the Allied invasion of Europe and the reluctance to permit the Royal Navy's Pacific Fleet any role in the Pacific. In all of these instances, circumstances forced a re-think or he was over-ruled.

Following Japan's defeat at the Battle of Midway, while the other Joint Chiefs urged that the Allies should fight a holding action to concentrate resources against Germany, King advocated the invasion of Guadalcanal. He won the argument, and the invasion went ahead. It was ultimately successful, and was the first time the Japanese lost ground during the War. For his attention to the Pacific Theatre he is highly regarded by some Australian war historians.[1]

General Hastings Ismay, chief of staff to Winston Churchill, described King as:

"tough as nails and carried himself as stiffly as a poker. He was blunt and stand-offish, almost to the point of rudeness. At the start, he was intolerant and suspicious of all things British, especially the Royal Navy; but he was almost equally intolerant and suspicious of the American Army. War against Japan was the problem to which he had devoted the study of a lifetime, and he resented the idea of American resources being used for any other purpose than to destroy Japanese. He mistrusted Churchill's powers of advocacy, and was apprehensive that he would wheedle President Roosevelt into neglecting the war in the Pacific."
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 Duty Stations
US NavyUS Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)NAVSUBASE New London/GrotonNAS Norfolk
USS Lexington (CV-2)Commander, US Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM)CNO - OPNAV
  1904-1905, USS Cincinnati (CL-6)
  1905-1905, USS Illinois (BB-7)
  1905-1906, USS Alabama (BB-8)
  1906-1909, 132X, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1906-1909, 132X, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1910-1910, USS Minnesota (BB-22)
  1911-1911, USS New Hampshire (BB-25)
  1912-1912, USS Connecticut (BB-18)
  1914-1916, USS Cassin (DD-372)
  1923-1925, NAVSUBASE New London/Groton
  1926-1928, 132X, USS Wright (AZ-1)
  1929-1930, NAS Norfolk
  1930-1932, 132X, USS Lexington (CV-2)
  1941-1941, Commander, US Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM)
  1941-1941, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet (CINCUS)
  1942-1945, 132X, CNO - OPNAV
 Colleges Attended 
United States Naval AcademyNaval War College
  1897-1901, United States Naval Academy1
  1932-1933, Naval War College
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