Secretary of the Navy Thomas Soverign
Thomas Sovereign Gates, Jr. was born in Philadelphia on 10 April 1906
to Thomas Sovereign and Marie Rogers Gates. His father was a lawyer and
investment banker who served as President of the University of
Pennsylvania from 1930 to 1944. His mother died when he was born. After
graduating from Chestnut Hill Academy in 1924, Gates attended the
University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Phi Beta Kappa member of the
Class of 1928. On 29 September 1928, Gates married Millicent Anne
Brengle of Philadelphia. Following graduation, Gates entered his
father's investment banking business, Drexel and Co., and in 1940,
became a partner. During those years he served in the Pennsylvania
National Guard as a private.
A member of the U.S. Naval Reserve since 1935, Gates was called to
World War II active duty in April 1942, and commissioned a Lieutenant.
He graduated from the Quonset Point Air Intelligence School in Rhode
Island and was assigned to the staff of the Commander in Chief,
Atlantic Theater to help organize the Naval Air Intelligence Center
under that Command. During this tour, he participated in the North
African "Casablanca" landings as an observer in the aircraft carrier
In the summer of 1943, Gates joined the new light carrier USS MONTEREY
as Air Combat Intelligence Officer. As part of the Fast Carrier Task
Force, Pacific Fleet, MONTEREY supported amphibious landings at Tarawa
and Kwajalein, and participated in strikes against New Britain, New
Guinea, and the Island of Truk. Gates returned to the United States in
the early summer of 1944 to join the staff of Rear Admiral Calvin T.
Durgin as Flag Lieutenant and Air Intelligence Officer, and
participated in Operation DRAGOON, the planned invasion of Southern
Upon the successful completion of DRAGOON, Durgin's American carriers
redeployed to the Pacific, where on the USS MAKIN ISLAND, Gates
participated in the invasions of Lingayen, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. For
service in these operations, Gates received the Bronze Star Medal.
After three additional months of combat operations in support of the
Okinawa Invasion, Gates completed his service and arrived in San
Francisco on V-J Day, where he reverted to the Naval Reserve with the
rank of Commander.
Gates resumed civil life as a partner in Drexel and Co. in the fall of
1945, and shortly thereafter was elected a director of several
corporations in the Philadelphia area. Continuing in the reserves,
Gates was promoted to Captain and continued to take an interest in
local reserve activities, being a founder of the "Reserve Officers of
Naval Service." In addition to serving as National Vice President and
Director of the Navy League of the United States, he served on the
naval advisory council of the Bureau of Aeronautics, in Washington.
In October of 1953, he accepted an appointment as Under Secretary of
the Navy from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Four years later, on 1
April 1957, Thomas S. Gates, Jr. assumed the Office of Secretary of the
Navy. Admiral Arleigh Burke summed up Gates' time in the Navy
Department when he told him "Your service was in an era marked by the
most rapid technological changes in the history of the Navy." Missiles
were replacing guns, nuclear power for conventional, jets replaced
propellers, supersonic speeds, and even exploration into space, were
part of the changing Navy. During that time, he participated in a re-
organization of the Department, and delineated Navy-Marine Corps
relationship to the satisfaction of both services.
In May of 1959, President Eisenhower asked Gates to become Deputy
Secretary of Defense. He then succeeded Neil McElroy as Secretary of
Defense in December of the same year. During his tenure as Secretary,
Gates accomplished management innovations that facilitated the
Pentagon's transition to modern weapons and tactics, including long-
range ballistic missiles, supersonic jets and tactical atomic bombs.
After 14 months as Secretary, Gates left the Pentagon. He was appointed
President of Morgan Guaranty Trust, and in 1966 became Chairman of the
Board and CEO.
In 1976, Gates was called back to government service when an old
shipmate from the MONTEREY, President Gerald Ford, appointed him as
head of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People's Republic of China. He
relieved Vice President Bush when he took over the post in May 1976.
Mr. Gates retired from public life, at the age of 71, in May of 1977.
Thomas S. Gates' service as Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of
Defense, and the post with the U.S. Liaison Office to the People's
Republic of China are represented by flags.
USS THOMAS S. GATES was scheduled to become, in fall 1998, the first
installation ship in the U.S. Navy's Integrated Ship Controls (ISC)
Program. This upgrade program aimed to install innovative labor and
cost savings initiatives on USS THOMAS S. GATES, USS TICONDEROGA (CG
47), USS VINCENNES (CG 49) and USS VALLEY FORGE (CG 50). Many of the
technologies installed are the result of the initiatives proven
sucessful on YORKTOWN (CG 48). The upgrade program also included
options to install systems on the remaining 22 CG 47 Class AEGIS
During Operations Desert Shield/Storm, USS THOMAS S. GATES conducted
operations in the Maritime Intercept Force, and under the command of
Destroyer Squadron 36, the Red Sea escort cruiser played a decisive
role in maritime interceptions.
USS THOMAS S. GATES deployed in late July 2000 to serve as the flagship
for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Standing Naval Forces
Atlantic (SNFL). The ship hosted an international professional naval
staff made up of officers from Germany, Poland, Spain, Norway, the
Netherlands, Great Britain and Canada. SNFL fills a very important role
in the NATO military command structure. It is a permanently established
multinational force which conducts routine presence and surveillance
missions as well as providing a maritime Immediate Reaction Force. If
needed, SNFL is prepared to deploy to crisis areas in support of NATO
objectives. As STANAVFORLANT, the ship's first exercise was DANEX 2000.
Ship personnel were to also participate in cross-deck opportunities
with the other NATO ships and, as well, have the opportunity to visit
Finland, a non-NATO nation, and Poland. Ports visited during this
deployment were Oslo, Norway; Helsinki, Finland; Copenhagen, Denmark;
Gdynia, Poland; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Leithe, Scotland; Plymouth,
U.K.; Plymouth, U.K.; Brest, France; Santander, Spain.
The crest is built on the government service of the ship's namesake,
the Honorable Thomas S. Gates, Jr. of Philadelphia. The upper section
of the shield represents the World War II service of Thomas S. Gates,
Jr. aboard various aircraft carriers. The deep blue represents the
waters of the Pacific Ocean and the gold symbolizes the U.S. Navy
tradition. The heraldic rayonne division of scarlet and gold,
simulating fire and flames, is symbolic of the severity of the Japanese
Kamikaze attacks concentrated upon U.S. aircraft carriers during the
invasions of Lingayen, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, in which Gates
participated. The anchor and stars, adapted from the flag of the
Secretary of the Navy, refer to his tenure as Under Secretary and
Secretary of that Department. His subsequent terms as Deputy Secretary
and Secretary of Defense are indicated by the three arrows which appear
on the flag of the Secretary of Defense.
On the crest, the eagle, symbolic of power and authority, along with
the ship's wheel, allude to the strong leadership Mr. Gates provided
while leading the Department of Defense during a period that heralded
technological changes from guns to missiles, conventional power to
nuclear, piston to jet aircraft engines, and the beginning of space
exploration. This era of change is recognized by the alternating colors
of the wheel.
Mr. Gates' last public service followed his appointment by President
Ford to head the U.S. Liaison Office to the People's Republic of China.
He stated that his task would be "to work for the normalization of
Chinese-American relations." This concept is indicated by the blue and
red stars above the gold rays. The blue represents the USA; red is for
China; and the gold rays from the President's Seal emphasize the
significance of this appointment, and Mr. Gates' contributions to the
United States in this role.