USS UTAH BB-31 / AG-16
The Forgotten Ship of Pearl Harbor
Captain William Henry P. Blandy
USNA Grad: 1913
Commanding Officer USS Utah: January 16, 1939 - June 15, 1940
William Henry Purnell Blandy was born on 28 June 1890 in New York City, New York. Appointed from Delaware to the U.S. Naval Academy, he graduated an Ensign in 1913 and reported to USS Florida, serving in the U.S. intervention at Vera Cruz, Mexico, and during World War I. In June 1916, he was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade. After promotion to Lieutenant in June 1919, he attended the Postgraduate School in ordnance engineering at Annapolis, which was followed by additional ordnance training at the Naval Gun Factory, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., and the Naval Proving Ground at Indian Head, Maryland. In October 1921, he received orders to USS New Mexico, later transferring to USS Vega. In November 1922, he became the District Communication Superintendent at Headquarters, Cavite, Philippines. Returning to sea, he served on board USS Pruitt, then transferred to USS Stewart. In June 1923, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and reported a year later for duty at the Bureau of Ordnance in Washington D.C.
In May 1927, Blandy returned to New Mexico as Gunnery Officer, then transferred to USS West Virginia as Aide to Commander, Battleship Divisions, Battle Fleet. Early in September 1930, he began Naval Attache duty at the American Embassy at Rio de Janerio, Brazil, where he was promoted to Commander in August 1933. In late 1934, he assumed command of USS Simpson, then departed to be Commander, Destroyer Division Ten. In June 1936, Blandy was Head of the Gunnery Section, Division of Fleet Training for the Chief of Naval Operations. In January 1939, he assumed command of USS Utah and was promoted to Captain in Summer 1939. In June 1940, he returned to the Bureau of Ordnance. Six months later, he was promoted to Rear Admiral and was serving as Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance upon the United States' entry into World War II.
In early 1944, Blandy was assigned as Commander Group One, Amphibious Force, Pacific Fleet, commanding the the invasion assault forces for campaigns such as the Kwajalein, Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In November 1945, he was promoted to Vice Admiral and became Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Special Weapons. In January 1946, he became the Commander, Joint Army-Navy Task Force One and oversaw Operation Crossroads, which conducted atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. Following these tests, he served as Commander, Eighth Fleet. In February 1947, he was promoted to Admiral and became Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. In February 1950, he retired and was placed on the retired list. William H.P. Blandy died on 12 January 1954 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
USS Blandy (DD-943), 1956-1990, was named in honor of Admiral William H. P. Blandy.