Ridley McLean

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Ridley McLean
LCDR Ridley McLean c.1912
Born (1872-11-10)10 November 1872
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Died 12 November 1933(1933-11-12) (aged 61)
USS Nevada San Francisco, California
Buried Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Years of service 1894–1933
Rank US Navy O8 insignia.svg Rear Admiral
Commands held


Awards Navy Cross

Rear Admiral Ridley McLean, USN (10 November 1872 – 12 November 1933) was a two-star Admiral in the United States Navy. He was a Naval Academy graduate, the original author of the Navy's Bluejacket's Manual, and Judge Advocate General (JAG). He was a battleship commander in World War I, a pioneer in naval use of shortwave communication, a submarine force and a Battleship division commander.

Early life[edit]

Ridley McLean was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee,[1] to Thornton and Sallie (Ridley) McLean.[2] Thornton, the son of Kentucky Congressman Finis Ewing McLean, was in the banking business in Pulaski. Sallie died on November 22, 1872, just 12 days after giving birth to her only child.[3] Thornton and Ridley soon left for California, lived there for a decade, and returned to Murfreesboro around 1883. Thornton died in 1887, leaving Ridley in the care of his maternal uncle, Army Captain B.L. Ridley, and his wife.

After two years at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Ridley was appointed to the Naval Academy by Congressman James D. Richardson, and commenced on May 20, 1890.

Military career[edit]

Early career[edit]

After graduation from the Naval Academy in 1894, one of McLean's first assignments was to the gunboat USS Marietta during the Reyes Rebellion in Nicaragua in February 1900. Attached to the staff of Rear Admiral Louis Kempff[4] on board the flagship, USS Kentucky, he participated in Boxer Rebellion in 1900 and the Philippine insurrection during 1901-1902.

In 1902 LT McLean wrote The Bluejacket's Manual for the United States Naval Institute, a book intended to provide information useful to new recruits and be a reference for every person in Naval service. In 1903 he contributed a chapter titled "Practical Naval Gunnery" to the Text Book of Ordinance and Gunnery.

In 1904 he was assistant to LCDR William Sims, Inspector of target practice and in 1906 was given orders to report to the USS Virginia. This tour would be cut short upon receipt of new orders to the staff of the Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry.[5] LCDR McLean was on the Admiral's flagship the USS Connecticut on its tour around the world in the Great White Fleet from 1907-1909. Following staff duty LCDR McLean was Atlantic Fleet ordnance officer before assuming duties as the Executive Officer on board the USS Florida.

In 1913 Commander McLean assumed what is normally a Captain billet as Judge Advocate General of the US Navy, a position he held until which entitled him the rank of Captain in title only. In December 1916 he received orders to become Commanding Officer of the USS Columbia through May 1917.

World War I[edit]

When World War I broke out Commander McLean served as Chief of Staff for the Battleship Force 1, Atlantic Fleet under VADM Albert Grant until 1918 at which time he was chosen to become the Commanding Officer of the USS New Hampshire, escorting allied convoys.

Post War[edit]

After a short tour as Commanding officer on the USS New Hampshire, he became the CO of the USS Nebraska September 1918-September 1919.[6] At the same time he was permanently appointed to the rank of Captain and for the next few years McLean was stationed at the Army War College in Washington D.C.[7]

From June 1922 through April 1924 Captain McLean was CO of the USS Arkansas.[8] Assuming the role as Director of Naval Communications in July 1924, CAPT McLean pioneered the use of shortwave radio communications when he authorized the experiment on board the USS Seattle on the 1925 cruise of Australia and New Zealand.

Promoted to Rear Admiral in 1927 and as Commander of Battleforce Submarines using the submarine tender USS Holland as his flagship. Rear Admiral McLean fought for submarine sustainability and flexibility to fight long ways from home and for extended periods.

Personal life[edit]

In November 1916 Commander McLean married Olive Gale Hill and became stepfather to her two children (Olive Beatrice and Gale) from a previous marriage.[9]


On November 12, 1933 at the age of 61, Rear Admiral McLean, Commander of Battleship Division 3 died suddenly from a fatal heart attack aboard his flagship the USS Nevada, while at anchor in San Francisco bay. The following day funeral services were held on board the Nevada while the flagged draped coffin of the Rear Admiral lay on the deck. Crews from all 50 warships in San Francisco were summoned to stand at attention during the service. After the service was complete the Nevada steamed through Golden Gate, passing the USS Pennsylvania as she fired a thirteen gun salute. His body was later interned at Arlington National Cemetery.[10]

Dates of rank[edit]

Ensign Lieutenant Junior Grade Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander Commander Captain
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6
US Navy O1 insignia.svg US Navy O2 insignia.svg US Navy O3 insignia.svg U.S. Navy O-4 insignia.svg US Navy O5 insignia.svg US Navy O6 insignia.svg
1894 abt. 1897 1901[4] abt. 1906 abt. 1913 1919[7]
Rear Admiral (lower half) Rear Admiral (upper half)
O-7 O-8
US Navy O7 insignia.svg US Navy O8 insignia.svg
1927 1932[11]

Decorations and awards[edit]

United States awards[edit]

Navy Cross ribbon.svg Navy Cross Medal
Awarded for actions during the World War I
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain Ridley McLean, United States Navy, for exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility as Commanding Officer, U.S.S. New Hampshire during World War I, and as Chief of Staff of the Commander of Battleship Force 1, Atlantic Fleet.

Action Date: World War I
Service: Navy
Rank: Captain
Company: Commanding Officer
Division: U.S.S. New Hampshire


  1. ^ 1900 US Federal Census. Retrieved on October 20, 2010.
  2. ^ Sorley, Merrow Egerton (1935). Lewis of Warner Hall: the history of a family. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co.
  3. ^ Sallie Ridley McLean Memorial at Find a Grave Retrieved on October 20, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy. United States Bureau of Naval Personnel, United States Navy Dept, United States Bureau of Navigation - 1900
  5. ^ "Finding Men For The Navy" Evening Post, New York, January 26, 1907
  6. ^ BB-14 USS NEBRASKA NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive
  7. ^ a b Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy. United States Bureau of Naval Personnel, United States Navy Dept, United States Bureau of Navigation - 1922
  8. ^ BB-33 USS ARKANSAS NavSource Online: Battleship Photo Archive
  9. ^ Lewis of Warner Hall: the history of a family by Merrow Egerton Sorley
  10. ^ Ridley McLean Arlington National Cemetery
  11. ^ US Government Accountability Office, A-43444, JULY 25, 1932, 12 COMP. GEN. 108

Further reading[edit]

  • McLean, R. The Bluejacket's Manual. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1902.
  • Faram, Mark D. The Bluejacket's Manual Turns 100. All Hands June 2008.

External links[edit]