Chester W. Nimitz




Pacific Ocean


Maritime Nation To 1950 (1921-1950)








Admiral� He hoped to attend the U.S. Military Academy, but when informed that no appointment would soon be available he entered the Naval Academy instead. He graduated seventh in the class of 1905.

After two years of service in East Asian waters on the battleship Ohio and on various small craft, Nimitz was commissioned an ensign and remained in the Far East until late 1908 when he returned to the United States and began duty in submarines. He became a lieutenant in 1910� During his four years with the Submarine Force, Nimitz gained extensive knowledge of the diesel engines that the navy had recently adopted for surface propulsion for submarines and in 1913 was selected to head a small mission to further study diesel technology in Germany. Nimitz was then ordered to the navy yard in Brooklyn, New York, to supervise the building and installation of large diesels in the new fleet oiler Maumee. He went to sea in theMaumee as executive officer and chief engineer�

Between 1918 and 1922 Nimitz had short tours in the office of the chief of naval operations and as executive officer of the battleship South Carolina. He spent two years at Pearl Harbor where he supervised the construction of the first submarine base there� In 1926 Nimitz reported to the University of California at Berkeley to organize and direct its first Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program�

On 16 December 1941 Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox advised Nimitz that he would become commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet (CinCPac)� Nimitz declined, believing it would be inappropriate to move ahead of some four dozen more senior officers to accept this prized command� However, after Pearl Harbor� he accepted it as his wartime duty� When Nimitz began his tenure as CinCPac on 31 December 1941, his principal assets were three aircraft carriers and the various cruisers and destroyers that had come through the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor unscathed. He also had under his command many submarines, but defective torpedoes would hamper their effectiveness for over a year�

By the last half of 1943, the combined air groups from the new carriers that Nimitz had available numbered some 700 planes, enough to give his forces air superiority in any operation they undertook� Nimitz's air and amphibious forces began a devastating new Central Pacific campaign that seized those Japanese bases that promised to be useful in future American operations�

After the Japanese surrender Nimitz, who had been promoted to the five-star rank of Fleet Admiral in 1944, began a two-year appointment as chief of naval operations (CNO). His term was dominated by four primary concerns: overseeing the demobilization of the wartime navy; assessing the material and personnel needs of the service in the postwar years; assisting Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal in developing an appropriate position for the navy in regard to the unification of the armed services; and formulating a mission for the navy in opposing the Soviet Union, the only great-power adversary the United States might have to face in the foreseeable future. Since the Soviet Union, unlike Japan, was primarily a land power, the navy's role was defined accordingly. Deciding how the navy could best use atomic energy was a closely related matter. Eager to see nuclear power developed for use by submarines, Nimitz also supported the inclusion of atomic weaponry in the navy's arsenal.

Nimitz reached mandatory retirement age in 1947� He died in the naval hospital on Yerba Buena Island, California�

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