Charles Andrews Lockwood (1890 - 1967)

Commander, Submarine Force, 

U.S. Pacific Fleet

1943 - 1946

Rear Admiral 1942

Vice Admiral 1943


Vice Admiral Charles Andrews Lockwood will forever be known in submarine history as the legendary COMSUBPAC, Commander Submarine Force Pacific Fleet, who led the silent service to victory during World War II in the Pacific. Born in Midland, Virginia, on 6 May 1890, Lockwood graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1912. Following brief cruises in battleships MISSISSIPPI (BB-23) and ARKANSAS (BB-33), and a short tour as instructor in the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, in September 1914, he reported to the tender MOHICAN (SP-117) for indoctrination in submarines. By 1 December of that year he was assigned command of the submarine USS A-2 (SS-3) in 1914 followed by the B-1. 

American entry into World War I found him in command of 1st Submarine Division, 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,  R-25, S-14 and BONITA (SS-165). 

He command the ex-German submarine UC-97 from March 1919 to August 1919, and the submarine USS V-3 (SS-163) from May 1926 to December 1928. The ex UC-97 was used to evaluate the capabilities of German submarine equipment. By 1933 a tour as an instructor in the Department of Seamanship and Navigation at the Naval Academy began his career as an educator.

In June 1939, he became Chief of Staff to Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Fleet, in light cruiser RICHMOND (CL-9). This important service was interrupted in February 1941 when he was sent to London as naval attache and principal observer for submarines. Following promotion to rear admiral in March 1942, he proceeded to west Australia as Commander, Submarines, Southwest Pacific, serving under Douglas MacArthur until February 1943. Following the death of Rear Admiral Thomas England in February 1943, Lockwood shifted his flag to Pearl Harbor, assuming direction Pacific Fleet submarines, serving directly under the Command of Fleet Admiral Nimitz. He was promoted to Vice Admiral in October 1943.

 During his tour, Lockwood improvised tactics to make the most effective use of submarines and pushed the Navy’s Bureaus of Ships and Ordnance to provide his men with the most effective submarines and torpedoes possible. He oversaw the tests that proved early U.S. torpedo unreliability and prompted the improvements that made them the highly effective weapons they became in 1944 and 1945. U.S. submarines sank more than 5.6 million tons of enemy shipping including more than 1,100 merchant ships and 200 warships. U.S. submarine attacks on enemy shipping accounted for more than fifty percent of enemy ships lost during the war.

Of the 16,000 U.S. submariners in the war, 375 officers and 3,131 enlisted men on fifty-two submarines were lost. The U.S. submarine force's wartime success was achieved with the lowest casualty rate of any combatant submarine service on either side. Lockwood's strong leadership and devotion to his troops won him the nickname "Uncle Charlie".

His wartime awards were the Distinguished Service Medal and two gold stars in lieu of second and third awards, and the Legion of Merit. The following is quoted directly from the Navy Office of Information concerning Lockwood's Distinguished Service Medal:

"For exceptionally meritorious service as Commander Submarine Forces, Pacific Fleet, from February 1943 to September 1945. A forceful leader, professionally skilled in the performance of a vital assignment, vice Admiral Lockwood was responsible for the strategic planning and tactical execution of submarine operations which culminated in the sinking by the forces under his command of over one thousand hostile ships, including one battleship, seven aircraft carriers and five cruisers, and in the damaging of more than five hundred additional ships. Rendering distinguished service in support of vital amphibious operations in the forward areas of the Pacific, Vice Admiral Lockwood also contributed to the development and effective employment of new weapons of extreme advantage to the Allied cause."

Gold Star in lieu of Second Distinguished Service Medal: "...as Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, from January to September 1945...(He) readily foresaw the possibilities and advantages of invading and ravaging the Sea of Japan during the closing months of the war and, through his sound judgment and professional skill in laying the groundwork and developing the plans for this extensive operation, was in large measure responsible for the successful penetration of his submarines through the minefields of Tsushima Straits and into Japanese home waters where over 50 ships and many smaller vessels were sunk along the last lifeline to the Asiatic Mainland....he brought his gallant command to the peak of combat efficiency in support of the Allied offensives against Iwo Jima and Okinawa...(and) contributed materially to the success of our sustained drive to force the capitulation of the Japanese Empire....."

On September 1, 1945 (EST), Vice Admiral Lockwood was present with Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, on board the USS MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay for the formal signing of the Japanese surrender. 

Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet (seated, center) poses with some of his officers at the newly established Yokosuka Submarine Base, 2 September 1945, while celebrating Japan's formal surrender earlier that day. (Photograph by Captain Joseph F. Enright, USN(Retired), 1979.U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph).

On December 18, 1945, he was relieved and ordered to duty as Naval Inspector General, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Department, Washington, D. C., assuring that assignment in April 1946. On June 30, 1947, he was relieved of all active duty pending retirement, and was transferred to the Retired List, effective September 1, 1947."

Inscribed on a bronze plaque in front of the historic Battleship USS TEXAS in Houston, Texas, Vice Admiral Lockwood wrote about the fifty-two submarines that are still on patrol:

"I can assure you that they went down fighting and that their brothers who survived them took a Grim Toll of our savage enemy."

As for the men who served under his command Lockwood wrote in his book, SINK 'EM ALL:

"They were no supermen, nor were they endowed with any supernatural qualities of heroism. They were merely top-notch American lads, well trained, well treated, well armed and provided with superb ships. May God grant there will be no World War III; but, if there is, whether it be fought with the weapons we know or with weapons at whose type we can only guess, submarines and submariners will be in the thick of the combat, fighting with skill, determination and matchless daring for all of us and for our United States of America."

In retirement at Los Gatos, Calif., he wrote and co-authored best selling books on naval history and submarine operations until his death 7 June 1967. He is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California, USA and leaves a widow and daughter.

Information and photographs about Charles A. Lockwood has been obtained from the following web sites:-

http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/images/h90000/h90518c.htm

http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/escorts/de1064.txt

http://www.csp.navy.mil/admirals/lockwood.htm

http://www.wardocuments.com/lockwood.html

http://findagrave.com/pictures/2156.html

http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/cno/n87/usw/issue_7/lockwood.htm

http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/cno/n87/history/pioneers4.html