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William Veazie Pratt Edit Profile

military , admiral

William Veazie Pratt was an admiral in the United States Navy. He served as the President of the Naval War College and as the Chief of Naval Operations.


William V. Pratt was born in Belfast, Maine. He was the son of Nichols Pratt, who served in the Union Navy during the American Civil War with the rank of acting master.


Pratt graduated from the Naval Academy in 1889, and for the next two years saw duty with the White Squadron.


During the Spanish-American War he was assigned to the Philippines to suppress local insurrections; next came service during the so-called Boxer Rebellion. Pratt was instructor at Annapolis in 1895-1897, 1900-1902, 1905-1906, 1906-1908, and at the Naval War College from 1911 to 1913. For the next two years he com¬manded the cruiser Birmingham.

At the outbreak of war on April 6,1917, Pratt was at the Army War College. During the opening month of hostilities, Captain Pratt was assigned to the office of the chief of Naval Operations in Washington, and from August 1917 to the end of the Great War he served as assistant chief of Naval Operations. In this capacity he cooperated cloely with Admiral Sims in London and was responsible for committing the Navy Department on July 6, 1917, to scrap its long-range "symmetrical" or battleship fleet-building program in order to construct 200 destroyers for antisubmarine warfare. Secretary of the Navy Daniels provided Pratt official backing in this endeavor. Although the assistant chief of Naval Operations fully realized that abandoning the capital-ship program "may leave us with our guard down," he nevertheless saw immediate succor in the antisubmarine war as vital "for the future well-being of the Anglo-Saxon race." Sims could hardly have put it better.

In October 1918, Pratt favored moderate naval terms for Germany so that the new state would be "neither autocratic and military nor bolshevik." He accompanied President Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference as naval adviser, but his suggestion in November to create a navy for the proposed League of Nations based on the principle of Anglo- American parity found few backers.

After the war Pratt represented the United States at the Washington Conference on Limitation of Armaments in 1921/1922; in 1926 he returned to the Naval War College as its president and two years later was appointed commander in chief of the battle fleet; in 1929 he received the post of commander in chief of the United States Fleet. Pratt again represented the United States at the London Conference on Limitation of Naval Armaments in 1930, and until his retirement in 1933 was chief of Naval Operations. He died on November 25, 1957, in Chelsea, Massachusetts.


Married Louise Johnson, April.

Nichols Pratt

Abigail Jane (Veazie) Pratt

Louise Johnson