On July 7, 1908, Ensign Chester Nimitz ran the destroyer USS Decatur (DD 5) aground in the Philippines. He was court-martialed, found guilty of neglect of duty, and issued a letter of reprimand. It was a different era so he still able to make admiral despite this career setback.
Source: U.S. Naval Institute
7 July 2022 at 15:51
I had heard this story about later-FADM Nimitz in relation to a submarine he commanded as a LT. Did BOTH mishaps occur?
BTW and somewhat-related. Before his passing some years ago, my WWII-vet father told stories about his service in the amphibious forces in the Pacific theater. His tales of mechanical failures due to incompetent maintenance and/or non-availability of spares; of navigational errors (including groundings) due to spotty availability of charts or navigational aids by smaller vessels (e.g. LSM); of accidental discharges of the “big guns” (40MM) during maintenance, in one case resulting in a 40MM hit on the hull of a BB (‘no damage’, not surprisingly); and more of that ilk…NONE of which resulted (if Dad’s memory was to be believed) in anything other than a flashing-light summons (“Commanding Officer report to the Flagship”), leading to a “royal, in-person ass-chewing” by someone who knew the craft of such things (a vanishing art, methinks). At that time, and apparently also earlier, the Navy was able to recognize that the greater good was found in retaining a chastised and “corrected” junior officer, at a time when the Fleet needed every good – or at least trainable – hand they could find.
8 July 2022 at 04:18
Young Ensign Nimitz’s grounding of the destroyer Decatur in the Philippines is reported on, but in no great detail, in E.B. Potter’s NIMITZ, published by the Naval Institute. I have never read nor heard of any other court-martial of Chester William Nimitz.
As for the other claims made by “Anonymous” above. The Navy has long been awash in scuttlebutt and many sailors—some even of flag rank—love telling sea stories.
Nimitz’s rank, by the way as of December 1944, was Fleet Admiral (5-stars). He was one of only four such naval officers to reach that rank. The other three are William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King, and William F. Halsey.
Andy McKane on the road from Ka’anapali, Maui