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First Name: Bradley

Last Name: Fiske

Birthplace: Lyons, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Allen

Date of Birth: 13 June 1854

Date of Death: 06 April 1942

Rank or Rate: Rear Admiral

Years Served:
Bradley Allen Fiske

•  Spanish-American War (1898)
•  Philippine-American War (1899 - 1902)


Bradley Allen Fiske
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Fiske was born on 13 June 1854 in Lyons, NY. He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy from the State of Ohio in 1870, graduating in 1874 and receiving his commission as an Ensign in July 1875.

His early service years included duty as on board the steam sloops-of-war USS Pensacola and USS Plymouth, both on the Pacific Station, and the paddle steamer USS Powhatan in the Atlantic. He also received instruction in the then-young field of torpedo warfare.

Promoted to Master in 1881 and Lieutenant in 1887, during much of that decade he had training ship duty in USS Saratoga and USS Minnesota, served in the South Atlantic Squadron on the steam sloop USS Brooklyn, and was twice assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance in Washington, DC.

As one of the Navy's most technically astute officers, in 1886-88 he supervised the installation of ordnance on USS Atlanta, one of the first of the Navy's modern steel warships. In 1888-90 he was involved in the trials of the USS Vesuvius, whose large caliber compressed-air guns were then considered a promising experiment, and was in charge of installing electric lighting in the new cruiser USS Philadelphia.

Spanish-American War

During the rest of the 1890s, Lieutenant Fiske was mainly employed at the Bureau of Ordnance and at sea, where he was an officer of the cruiser USS San Francisco, and the gunboats USS Yorktown and USS Petrel. While serving in the latter, he took part in the Battle of Manila Bay on 1 May 1898.

Following the Spanish-American War, Fiske continued his service in Philippine waters on board the monitor USS Monadnock.

Command Assignments

During the years between the Spanish-American War and World War I, Fiske advanced rapidly in rank to Lieutenant Commander in 1899; Commander in 1903; and Captain in 1907. He held many responsible positions on shore and at sea, serving as an Inspector of Ordnance, Executive Officer of USS Yorktown and the battleship USS Massachusetts, Commanding Officer of the monitor USS Arkansas and cruisers USS Minneapolis and USS Tennessee, had recruiting duty, served as Captain of the Yard at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, attended the Naval War College and was a member of the Navy's General Board (1911) and the Army-Navy Joint Board, among other assignments.

Flag Assignments

Bradley Fiske became a Rear Admiral in August 1911, subsequently commanding three different divisions of the Atlantic Fleet as well as serving as the Secretary of the Navy's Aide for Inspections. In February 1913, he was appointed Aide for Operations, a post that later became that of Chief of Naval Operations. As Aide for Operations, Fiske forcefully advocated the creation of a Naval general staff and the elevation of the nation's preparedness for war.

On 9 November 1914, Fiske sent a memorandum to then Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, that the U.S. Navy was not organized for warfare: "If this country avoids war during the next five years it will be accomplished only by a happy combination of high diplomatic skill and rare good fortune," the memo said, stating the Navy was short 19,600 men from its stated table or organization. Though individual ships were well-maintained and controlled, naval administration was lacking.

Fiske resigned as Aide for Operations on 1 April 1915, and was replaced by Admiral William Shepherd Benson as the first Chief of Naval Operations.

The idea of dropping a lightweight torpedo from aircraft was conceived and developed in the early 1910s by Fiske. He worked out the mechanics of carrying and releasing an aerial torpedo from a bomber, and defined tactics that included a night-time approach so that the target ship would be less able to defend itself. Fiske reported in 1915 that, using this method, enemy fleets could be attacked within their own harbors.

Following a year at the Naval War College, Rear Admiral Fiske was retired upon reaching the age of 62 in June 1916.

In Retirement

Fiske's professional activities continued into the mid-1920s with service as President of the U.S. Naval Institute and several sessions of temporary duty with the Navy Department.

In 1924, Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske was quoted in the New York Times stating that "the Japanese and the Americans have taken attitudes that are irreconcilable [regarding the Immigration Act] and such attitudes have usually preceded wars... We are prepared for war if it does come."

Among Fiske's improvements were an improved stadimeter, helm-angle indicator, engine-room telegraphs, speed and direction indicators, a turret range finder, a gun director system, and steering telegraphs.


The U.S. Navy named two warships, Fiske (DE-143), 1943-1944, and Fiske (DD-842), 1945-1980, in his honor.

Death and Burial

Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske died on 6 April 1942 in New York City, at age 87. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 2491   Created by: MHOH




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