William V. Pratt
|William Veazie Pratt|
Admiral William Pratt, USN, while CNO
February 28, 1869|
|Died||November 25, 1957(aged 88)|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1889 – 1933|
|Commands held||United States Fleet
Chief of Naval Operations
World War I
|Awards||Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Pratt was born in Belfast, Maine. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1889, he served in several cruisers and gunboats, visiting Europe, South America and Asia. During 1895–97, Ensign Pratt had the first of three instructor tours at the Naval Academy. He was assigned to the gunboat Mayflower during the Spanish-American War and to the cruiser Newark afterwards. While in the latter, he returned to Asiatic waters, where he saw action in the Philippine-American War. A second Naval Academy session followed in 1900–1902, after which he served in the North Atlantic Fleet flagship Kearsarge.
Lieutenant Commander Pratt's final Naval Academy tour took place in 1905–1908. He then was Executive Officer of the cruisers Saint Louis and California. Promoted to the rank of Commander in 1910, Pratt was an instructor at the Naval War College in 1911–1913 and spent the next two years in the Atlantic Torpedo Flotilla, much of that as Commanding Officer of its flagship, the scout cruiser Birmingham. Captain Pratt was assigned to the Army in Panama and at the Army War College in 1915–1917. During the First World War he served in Washington, D.C. as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations in 1918.
Pratt was at sea in 1919–1921 as Commanding Officer of the battleship New York and as Commander Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet. Following promotion to Rear Admiral in mid-1921, he was a member of the General Board in Washington, D.C., and served as a technical advisor during the negotiations that led to the Washington Naval Limitations Treaty of February 1922. He commanded a battleship division in 1923–1925 and was President of the court of inquiry that examined the 8 September 1923 Honda Point Disaster. Assignments followed to the General Board and as President of the Naval War College. In 1927, he returned to sea as Commander Battleship Divisions, Battle Fleet. A year later, he became Commander Battle Fleet in the rank of Admiral and in 1929–1930 was Commander in Chief United States Fleet.
Admiral Pratt's work with the U.S. Fleet was interrupted in early 1930 by a trip to England to participate in the London conference that further limited the size of the World's major navies. He became Chief of Naval Operations in September 1930 and spent nearly three years in that post, during a time when Depression-era demands for economy made it very difficult to maintain the Navy's size and readiness. During his tenure, he also helped Coast Guard Commandant Harry G. Hamlet in discouraging President Franklin D. Roosevelt from merging the Navy and Coast Guard.
Retired at the beginning of July 1933, Pratt lived thereafter in Maine and New York City. During the World War II years, he wrote a regular column for a nationally-circulated magazine and spent several months on active Navy Department duty in 1941 studying measures to counter the German submarine threat. Admiral William V. Pratt died in 1957.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the Naval History & Heritage Command document "Admiral William V. Pratt".
Clarence Stewart Williams
|President of the Naval War College
Joel R. P. Pringle
Charles F. Hughes
|United States Chief of Naval Operations
William H. Standley