This World War II Aircraft Carrier Was Nearly Sunk For an Insane Reason

February 26, 2020 Topic: Security Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: NavyMilitaryWarHistoryShipVessel

This World War II Aircraft Carrier Was Nearly Sunk For an Insane Reason

Many individual Franklin mariners—the ship’s chaplain and one of her engineering officers in particular—displayed conspicuous gallantry following the March 19 cataclysm. Indeed, the flattop is the most decorated U.S. Navy warship ever. Yet this was far from the navy’s finest hour.

And how. No bad deed went unrewarded in the case of Leslie Gehres. The navy whitewashed his misdeeds. He was decorated with the Navy Cross, its loftiest award for martial valor, and ultimately promoted to a rear admiral. Here was a navy captain who assumed command of a wounded vessel, shattered its culture, scapegoated his way out of high-seas disaster, and in fact garnered promotions and high honors for his trouble. Many individual Franklin mariners—the ship’s chaplain and one of her engineering officers in particular—displayed conspicuous gallantry following the March 19 cataclysm. Indeed, the flattop is the most decorated U.S. Navy warship ever. Yet this was far from the navy’s finest hour.

This is a story worth telling and retelling. It supplies insight into material matters, along with examples of grit and fortitude. It also supplies a case study in how not to lead. Let’s detoxify the sea service.

James Holmes is J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College and author of “ Visualize Chinese Sea Power ,” in the current issue of the Naval Institute Proceedings. The views voiced here are his alone. (This first appeared several years ago.)

Image: Wikipedia.