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Charles Andrews Lockwood Edit Profile

Military , Vice-admiral

Charles Lockwood was a vice-admiral and flag officer of the United States Navy. He is known in submarine history as the commander of Submarine Force Pacific Fleet during World War II. He devised tactics for the effective use of submarines, making the members and elements of "silent service" key players in the Pacific victory.


Charles Lockwood was born in Midland, Virginia, on May 6, 1890.


He graduated from Lamar High School (Missouri) in 1905, then graduated from the United States Naval Academy in the class of 1912. Following brief cruises aboard the battleships USS Mississippi and Arkansas, 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.


He commanded Subdivision 13 from 1935 to 1937, then had the submarine desk under the CNO and was CofS to Comsubs. In January 1941 he became GHORMLEY’s CofS in London and also was naval attache.

On 26 May 1942 he relieved Captain John Wilkes as Comsubs SW, also taking over from Rear Admiral W.R. Purnell as commander of all Allied naval forces based in West Australia. The new arrival, recently promoted to rear admiral, also headed TF 51, comprising surface units as well as subs in SW Australia. A short, cheerful, energetic officer, "Lockwood was almost overcome by the depression and fatigue he found all through the command". The retreat from Manila had been an exhausting ordeal for inexperienced crews, and torpedo performance had been bad.

Lockwood conducted tests that revealed faulty torpedo design. Instead of commending him for initiative, the Bureau of Ordnance quibbled until CNO Ernest KING intervened to issue orders that eventually straightened out the technical problems. Admiral Arthur S. Carpender took over as commander of TF 51 in early July 1942, freeing Lockwood to concentrate on submarine matters. But Carpender and Lockwood were quickly at odds, the former fussing about what Lockwood considered to be minutiae (ibid., 283). As Lockwood shifted his fleet boats to eastern Australia in response to Japanese pressure in the Solomons and New Guinea he sent patrols into the South China Sea, Philippine waters, and the Flores Sea.

From February 1943 Lockwood directed all submarine operations in the Pacific as Comsubpac, and late that year was promoted to vice admiral. Comsubpac claimed in a final report that his boats in the Pacific had sunk about 4,000 Japanese vessels (some 10 million tons), including a battleship, eight aircraft carriers, and 20 cruisers. US losses were 52 submarines, 375 officers, and 3,131 EM out of about 16,000 who had made war patrols. The casualty rate of almost 22 per cent was the highest for any US military service, but because of official censorship during the war it was a "silent victory."

After the war Vice Adm Lockwood was the Navy’s IG. Detesting being chief of what he called the Gestapo, and frustrated in hopes of creating a post of deputy CNO for submarines, he retired 1 September 1947, declining further promotion and command of a fleet.

He lived in Los Gatos, Calif, took part in civic affairs, hunted, and wrote. Lockwood published two autobiographical works, Sink ’Em All and Down to the Sea in Subs. With Hans C. Adamson he wrote "Hell" at 50 Fathoms. The submariner died 6 June 1967 at Monte Serena, Calif.


Virginia, American, Inter-American and International Bar Associations. State Bar of Michigan. The District of Columbia Bar.

Virginia State Bar. (Vice President and General Counsel).