Charles A. Lockwood

Charles A. Lockwood books and biography


Charles A. Lockwood


Charles A. Lockwood
Place of birth Midland, Virginia
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1912-1947
Rank Vice Admiral
Commands Commander, Submarines, Pacific Fleet
Commander, Submarines, Southwest Pacific Area
Submarine Division 1
USS B-1 (SS-10)
USS Adder (SS-3)
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit
Other work author

Charles Andrews Lockwood (6 May 1890 – 7 June 1967) was an admiral of the United States Navy. He is known in submarine history as the legendary commander of Submarine Force Pacific Fleet during World War II. He devised tactics to make the most effective use of submarines, so the "silent service" played a key role in the Pacific victory.


Early life and career

Lockwood was born in Midland, Virginia, 6 May 1890, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in the class of 1912. Following brief cruises in the battleships USS Mississippi (BB-23) and USS Arkansas (BB-33), and a short tour as instructor in the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, in September 1914 he reported to the tender USS Mohican for indoctrination in submarines.

Submarine commander, World War I and postwar era

By 1 December 1914 he had his first submarine command, A-2, followed by B-1. American entry into World War I found him in command of Submarine Division 1, Asiatic Fleet.

From that time, with the exception of a tour on the Asiatic station where he commanded gunboats Quiros (PG-40) and Elcano (PG-38) on the Yangtze Patrol and the destroyer Smith Thompson (DD-212), practically all his sea service was in and connected with submarines.

In addition to those listed above are added G-1, N-5, UC-97 (ex-German navy), R-25, S-14, and Bonita (SS-165).

World War II service

In June 1939 he became Chief of Staff to Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Fleet, on the cruiser Richmond (CL-9). This important service was interrupted in February 1941 when he was sent to London as naval attaché and principal observer for submarines.

Following promotion to rear admiral in March 1942 he proceeded to West Australia as Commander, Submarines, Southwest Pacific (COMSUBSOWESPAC).

In February 1943, following the death of the COMSUBPAC, Rear Admiral Robert Henry English, in a plane crash in California, Lockwood was transferred to Pearl Harbor to become Commander, Submarines, Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC), in which capacity he served the rest of the war, being promoted to vice admiral in October 1943. Lockwood's strong leadership and devotion to his sailors won him the nickname "Uncle Charlie". Submarine patrols were long voyages and many times the crew finishing up on "iron rations" of poor food as their food supplies ran out, so Lockwood made great strides in providing for rest and recuperation (R & R) for his sailors when they returned to port, such as two week stays at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and crates of ice-cream and leafy vegetables to greet returning submarine crews.

Lockwood oversaw the introduction into the Pacific Fleet of a huge number of newly-constructed fleet submarines from American shipyards, including the one in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and the manning of them with newly-trained officers and men. Older boats, like the S-class, were removed from combat and sent back to the US for training boats and/or for scrapping.

He oversaw the moving forward of the Pacific Fleet submarine bases from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Australia to places like Saipan - where a submarine tender was stationed for a period of time - Guam, the Admiralty Islands, and Subic Bay, the Philippines. This reduced the very long ocean voyages for American submarines, and steadily tightened the noose on Imperial Japanese supply lines, especially in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

He pushed the Navy's Bureau of Ships and Bureau of Ordnance to provide his men with the most effective submarines and torpedoes possible. He oversaw the tests that proved the unreliability of U.S. torpedoes, which at the time were often running too deep or failing to detonate, and prompted the improvements that made them the highly effective weapons they became in 1944 and 1945.

Most importantly, Lockwood cleaned out the "dead wood", replacing unproductive submarine skippers with (often) younger and more aggressive officers. During the early stages of the Pacific War, US skippers were relatively complacent and docile, compared to their German counterparts who understood the "life and death" urgency in the Atlantic. There was plenty of room for error and cautious judgement since the Japanese did not take US submarine threat seriously.

In 1942 and early 1943, US submarines proved little threat to Japanese warships and merchant ships alike. As a result of Lockwood's initiatives, the "silent service" suddenly began racking up many kills, including key enemy warships. Most importantly, US submarines were responsible for severing Japan's shipping routes to their colonies in Southeast Asia, by sinking close to half of their merchant ships. The Imperial Japanese Navy was caught off guard and never recovered.

Lockwood's wartime awards were the Navy Distinguished Service Medal three times, and the Legion of Merit award.

Post-war career and retirement

After the war, Lockwood served as the Inspector General of the Navy until his retirement in June 1947.

In retirement at Los Gatos, California, he wrote and co-authored best-selling books on naval history and submarine operations until his death 7 June 1967. He is buried in a naval cemetery near San Francisco alongside his wife and Admirals Nimitz, Spruance, and Turner, an arrangement made by all of them while living.

The frigate USS Lockwood (FF-1064) was named in his honor.


  • Lockwood, Charles; Hans Christian Adamson (1955). Hellcats of the Sea. New York: Greenberg. OCLC 2364890. 
  • Lockwood, Charles (1967). Down to the Sea in Subs. New York: W.W. Norton. OCLC 1314929. 
  • Blair, Clay (1975). Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan. Philadelphia: Lippincott. ISBN 9780397007530. OCLC 821363. 

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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