JAMES MORTIMER STEELE
Fourth Captain of the USS Indiana BB-58, 13 January 1944 to 17 March 1944
James Mortimer Steele was born in Denver, Colorado on August 24, 1894 to George P. Steele and
Mary Shiras Jones Steele. He attended Belmont Military School in California and High School in San
Diego, CA before his appointment to the U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD in 1912. He
graduated and was commissioned Ensign in the U. S. Navy on June 2, 1916.
June 1916-12 Feb 1917 Assigned to USS San Diego.
12 Feb 1917 He was aboard the USS Pittsburgh when the United States entered World War I in April 1917. After the war he stayed on her when she served as Flagship for Admiral W. B. Caperton then Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, South American waters.
24 April 1919 Communications Officer on the USS Nevada.
Sept 1919 Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL for instruction.
Feb 1920 Instructor at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL
2 April 1920 Assigned to USS Kansas.
Sept 1920 USS Fulton for instruction at the Submarine Base at New London, CT.
Jan 1921 He qualified in submarines. Reported to the USS R-6.
April 1921 Commander of USS R-6.
Nov 1923 Shore Duty at Navy Yard, Mare Island, CA
5 Oct 1925-22 Dec 1927 Commander of USS S-6.
2 Jan 1928 Executive Officer USS Toucey.
Sept 1928 Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department, Washington, DC.
July 1930-31 May 1933 Engineer Officer of USS Marblehead.
1 June 1933-June 1935 Served at Submarine Base, Coco Solo, Canal Zone.
7 June 1935-7 June 1937 Navigator on the First Line Battleship, USS Nevada.
June 1937-June 1938 Commanded the USS Brazos (an auxiliary oilier).
5 July 1938-May 1939 Student at Naval War College, Newport, RI.
May 1939-1 July 1941 On Staff of Naval War College.
1 July 1941 Ordered to the USS Utah, undergoing conversion as an anti-aircraft training ship and
experimental laboratory. He completed her conversion, manned the ship with highly qualified anti-aircraft personnel, and took her to Pearl Harbor where she worked closely with the Pacific Fleet
carriers (USS Lexington, USS Saratoga and USS Enterprise) as a Pacific Fleet Training School.
Dive bombers from the carriers would make practice runs against the USS Utah and the gunners
learned what it felt like to be under aerial attack. The USS Utah was moored at Pearl Harbor in a
spot usually occupied by aircraft carriers when the Japanese attacked the Fleet on 7 December
1941. Punished unmercifully, the Utah finally turned over and slid into the water.
7 December 1941 Captain Steele was Superintendent of salvage operations after the Japanese
31 Mar 1942 With rank of Captain, he joined the Staff of Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific
13 Jan 1944 Relieved Captain William Morrow Fechteler and became fourth Captain of the
Battleship USS Indiana BB-58
17 Mar 1944 Relieved as Captain of the USS Indiana by Captain Thomas Joseph Keliher
Mar 1944 Captain Steele was detached for duty at Headquarters of the Commander in Chief, U S
Fleet, Washington, DC.
Nov 1946 Captain Steele retired from the US Navy
24 May 1977 Captain James Mortimer Steele died of lung cancer
Last Updated 25 October 1999
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