Admiral Robert Carney, Chief of Naval Operations

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Robert Bostwick Carney

Birthplace: Vallejo, California
Death: Died
Cause of death: heart failure
Place of Burial: Virginia, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Emmett Carney and Bertha Vallier Hartwell
Husband of Grace Carney

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Admiral Robert Carney, Chief of Naval Operations

Robert Bostwick Carney (March 26, 1895 – June 25, 1990) was an admiral in the United States Navy who served as commander-in-chief of the NATO forces in Southern Europe (1951–1953) and then as Chief of Naval Operations (1953–1954) during the Eisenhower administration.

Early years

Born in Vallejo, California, Carney graduated from the Naval Academy in 1916. He served in World War I, seeing combat against German U-boats.

Between wars

Carney served as Flag Secretary to Admiral Louis R. de Steiguer during the mid-1920s during de Steiguer's time in command of various battleship forces. Their relationship was not happy, mainly due to de Steiguer imperious manner described by Carney as "constant pressure, irascibility, criticism, and unpleasantness". Famously, Carney eventually marched into de Steiguer's cabin, snapped, "Admiral, I just want to tell you I think you are a goddamn rotten son of a bitch," and stormed out. After failing to retrieve Carney via Marine orderly, de Steiguer visited Carney's cabin in person, said, "Sonny, you've been working too hard. You and I are going ashore." Carney ultimately concluded that his three years with de Steiguer had been a valuable experience, but not one he would have chosen to repeat.

World War II

In February 1941, then Commander, Carney was recalled from duty in the Pacific to assist in organizing, equipping, and training a special Surface-Air Force, having as its mission the protection of shipping against submarine and air attack. This force became fully involved in convoy escort prior to the involvement of the United States into the war. From September 13, 1941, until April 1942, this force, under command of Vice Admiral Arthur L. Bristol, Jr., escorted over 2,600 ships on the ocean lanes while suffering the loss of only six ships.

From October 15, 1942, until July, 1943 Carney commanded the cruiser USS Denver in the Pacific Theater. He was twice decorated for engagements in the Solomon Islands campaign, earning the Bronze Star with Combat "V" for meritorious service as Commanding Officer of Denver while attached to a task group of Admiral William Halsey's Third Fleet during operations against the enemy Japanese-held Islands of Kolombangara, Shortland. Off Bougainville the night of July 26, 1943 he took advantage of poor weather to lay a large quantity of mines along sea lanes around the island, and then delivered a naval bombardment against the Japanese shore installations.

On July 29, 1943, Carney was appointed Chief of Staff to Admiral Halsey, and was promoted to Rear Admiral. At the time Halsey was Commander, South Pacific Force, a responsibility which included all ground, sea, and air forces in the South Pacific area. Carney later wrote that "Admiral Halsey unfailingly gave credit to his subordinates for successes achieved, and took all blame for failures on his own shoulders."

While in this assignment, Rear Admiral Carney was awarded his second Distinguished Service Medal for contributions which he made in the field of over-all strategy and the organizing of the logistic support of the Allied Forces in the South Pacific, the citation stating, in part:

"Displaying sound judgement and distinctive tactical ability, he conceived and correlated the many offensive operations carried out in the Solomon Islands and Bismarck Archipelago areas. Through his comprehensive knowledge of logistics and his expert planning, he enabled our Forces to exert their greatest strength against the enemy and administer a series of crushing defeats on the Japanese."

When Admiral Halsey assumed command of the Third Fleet in the Central Pacific in June, 1944, Rear Admiral Carney accompanied him as Chief of Staff. He participated in the amphibious invasions of Palau and Lingayen, and the naval Battle of Leyte Gulf. Here he famously confronted the admiral when he was taken in a fit of rage. During Halsey's run to the north in tracking down the Japanese carriers, he received numerous calls from Admiral Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet, whose escort carriers were under attack from a Japanese battlegroup of battleships, cruisers and destroyers. Then, shortly after 10:00 hours, an anxious message was received from Admiral Nimitz: "Where is repeat where is Task Force 34? The world wonders". The tail end of this message, The world wonders, was intended as padding designed to confuse enemy decoders, but was mistakenly left in the message when it was handed to Halsey. The inquiry appeared to be a rebuke. The fiery Halsey threw his hat on the deck of the bridge and began cursing. Finally Carney confronted him, telling Halsey "Stop it! What the hell's the matter with you? Pull yourself together." Halsey regained his composure, and later turned the fleet south to support Seventh Fleet.

Later, Carney continued to assist Halsey as Chief of Staff during his operations in the Okinawa campaign and the carrier air raids against Japanese air fields in Vietnam and Formosa in the South China Sea. In 1945 Third Fleet was striking targets in the Japanese homeland itself, launching attacks on Tokyo, the naval base at Kure and the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō, as well as the bombardments of a number of Japanese coastal cities in preparation for an invasion of Japan, which ultimately never had to be undertaken.

Rear Admiral Carney arranged with Japanese emissaries for the entry of the Third Fleet into Tokyo Bay, accepted the surrender of Yokosuka Naval Base and surrounding area from Vice Admiral Michitaro Totsuka of the Imperial Japanese Navy, and attended the ceremony for the surrender of Japan held on board Admiral Halsey's flagship, the battleship USS Missouri.

Post war

After the war, he was promoted to Vice Admiral in 1946, and until February 1950, served as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations. Next he assumed command of the Second Fleet operating on the East Coast of the United States. On October 2, 1950, he was advanced in rank to Admiral.

From 1951 to 1953, Carney served as commander-in-chief of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Southern Europe, where he was responsible for the fleets of five countries and the armed forces of Italy, Greece and Turkey.

On May 13, 1953, President Eisenhower announced his selection of Admiral Carney as the next Chief of Naval Operations. On completion of his appointment as Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Carney retired from active service.

Over the next several years, Admiral Carney’s various assignments, coupled with his personal interest in industrial participation in the defense effort, resulted in close contact with industry including the position of Chairman of the Board, Bath Iron Works, Corporation.

Awards Received by Admiral Carney


USS Carney (DDG-64) was named in his honor.

Carney Park was named after Admiral Carney

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Admiral Robert Carney, Chief of Naval Operations's Timeline

March 26, 1895
Vallejo, California
June 25, 1990
Age 95
Virginia, USA