Skip to main content

James F. McNulty papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSC-067

Scope and Contents

Captain McNulty presented his papers to the Naval War College through the Naval War College Foundation on August 15, 1979. The papers cover the period 1950-1977 and document his career in the Navy. The ten box manuscript collection is divided into five series.

Series I, Correspondence, consists of personal correspondence received or sent by CAPT - McNulty, letters sent by VADM Richard G. Colbert and ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt and official and personal correspondence in a career file which outlines McNulty's career in the Navy.

Series II, Speeches, contains the speeches CAPT McNulty wrote or edited for ADM - Arleigh Burke, VADM Richard G. Colbert, ADM Ralph Cousins, RADM W. Thompson, and ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt, 1969-1974. This is the largest series in the collection and the bulk of it consists of speeches for A~M Zumwalt who was Chief of Naval Operations at the time (1970-1974).

The Navy was going through significant changes during this period: the revamping of an obsolete and shrinking Naval force, the growing global navy of the Soviet Union, the impact of the Nixon Doctrine on foreign and Naval policy, the dissatisfaction of Navy personnel with the service, and a general re-organization of the Naval War College. The speeches give an invaluable contemporary view of these events and of ten outline plans of action which have since taken place. A speech made on March 19, 1971, to the OPNAV Commanders is an overview of what ADM. Zumwalt hoped to accomplish during his term as CNO; it includes a transcript of the question and answer period which followed. A proposed article for Outlook and one written in 1973 or 1974 for the American Ordnance Association magazine specifically address the nature and type of chailges which had been or would be implemented during the 1970s.

The third series contains the writings of CAPT McNulty which include student papers for various degrees and Naval War College courses, manuals, published and unpublished articles, and memos and handouts. A growing concern of the time was the shifting balance of sea power between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Second International Seapower Symposium held in November 1971 at the Naval War College was a focal point for this concern and McNulty's writings frequently center on this subject. Many of them were published in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings and the Naval War College Review. Some of the writings stem from the ongoing changes at the War College.

These include proposals and memos discussing curriculum changes and the objectives and mission of the college. Relating to this is a paper written for the master's degree program at the University of Rhode Island in which McNulty discusses the National Sea-Grant College program and whether it was working as expected.

On a less academic level are the manuals and handouts: "Mooring in One Thousand Fathoms", published in the USNI Proceedings, and the "Ocean Towing Procedures Manual" which was worked on in the early and mid 1960s; and handouts such as the ones warning about what to expect when an inspection was called for your ship and crew. McNulty also worked with RADM. Henry E. Eccles on a compendium and handbook on American sea power for the Navy League in 1970.

The Subject Files make up the fourth series in the collection. These contain the research materials brought together by McNulty as background and reference sources for the various papers and speeches he was writing. The files contain copies of newspaper and magazine articles, symposium transcripts, speeches, papers, and government publications.

The final series, Miscellany, contains three files of notes and notebooks dating from circa 1970-1971, various addresses, some Naval War College material, Naval officer complaints, Vietnam War statistics, writing and publishing regulations and articles, and photographs. These latter are of McNulty's family, events and groups at the Naval War College, and U.S. Naval ships.

The tenth box of papers contains classified speeches and writings. This box is currently unavailable for research.


  • 1950 - 1977


Conditions Governing Access

Access is open to all researchers, unless otherwise specified.


Box 10 of this collection contains classified reports and writings and is unavailable to all researchers until further notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Material in this collection is in the public domain, unless otherwise noted.

Biographical Note

James Francis McNulty was born on September 30, 1929 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. From 1950 to 1953 he attended the Massachusetts Maritime Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine and Electrical Engineering. He then worked as an engineering officer for the Gulf Oil Corporation until he entered active duty with the Navy later in 1953.

McNulty served first as an engineering officer in the USS BOWMAN COUNTY (LST-39l):then in the same capacity in the USS WINDHAM COUNTY (LST-1170) until 1955. March 1, 1955 was the date of his first promotion, to lieutenant j.g. From 1955 to 1957 McNulty continued to be based in Philadelphia. After achieving the rank of lieutenant in 1957, he served in the USS ROOKS (DD-804) based in Newport, Rhode Island. The following year (1958-1959) he served in the USS BENHAM (DD-796) in general operations and ship's navigation. He finished a course in air interception control in 1959 and in July, 1960 McNulty qualified for Command of Destroyers.

He earned a second college degree at Tufts University in 1961. This was a Bachelor of Arts in History and Government.

From New England McNulty went south to Norfolk, Virginia and his first command, USS KIOWA (ATF-72). From 1961 to 1963 he learned a good deal about shiphandling. In 1962 this fleet ocean tug took part in an operation called TOTO II in the Bahamas. This was a project to set· up a permanent deep sea mooring in one thousand fathoms. An article illustrated with photographs and drawings of the successful operation was written by McNulty and appeared in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings in October, 1963.

This kind of work also interested McNulty in ocean towing procedures and in 1962 he worked on a manual on this subject. The manual was a continuing project of interest for the next two years.

As a lieutenant commander, McNulty returned to Newport in the fall of 1963 to teach engineering in the Naval Destroyer School at the Naval War College. Upon the end of this instructorship McNulty, himself, became a student enrolled at the College of Naval Command and Staff from 1965 to 1966. He also earned a Masters degree in International Affairs from George Washington University.

The period from 1967 to 1968 was another term of sea duty, this time aboard the USS ROBISON (DDG-12) in which he served as executive officer. McNulty joined the ROBISON for refresher and type training off the west coast and then the ship was deployed for its fourth WestPac tour of duty. From August 25, 1967 to January 9, 1968 the ROBISON was part of the naval gunfire support and "Sea Dragon" operations in the Tonkin Gulf. Seventy-eight destroyed waterbourne craft were credited to the ship and the ROBISON earned the Meritorious Unit Commendation for combat readiness. McNulty was promoted to the rank of commander during this period.

In September 1968, McNulty received orders to return to the Naval War College as an instructor in the Naval Command Course, specializing in antisubmarine warfare. He became interested in the growing concerns ove r the balance of sea power between the United States and th~ Soviet Union and wrote about the issue in papers, articles, and for such organizations as the Navy League. An interest in the curriculum and mission and objectives changes at the War College under the presidency of VADM Richard G. Colbert is also reflected in the various memos and letters which he wrote during this period.

One project with which McNulty was involved was the design of a hypothetical naval ship named the Free World Frigate. The Naval Command Course published a fairly detailed group research paper under that name early in 1971.

While busy as an instructor and writing papers and articles, McNulty was also working on and writing speeches for VADM Colbert and other high ranking officers. During the latter half of 1970 he began work on a speech prepared by VADM. Colbert to be delivered by ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., Chief of Naval Operations at the SACLANT Flag Officer Symposium in November of that year. In January 1971, McNulty was assigned to the office of the CNO in Washington, D.C. For the next four years he wrote and worked on speeches for ADM Zumwalt.

McNulty was not based in Washington for the duration of this period. From 1972 to 1973 he was commanding officer of the USS FARRUGUT (DLG-6) and then returned again to the Naval War College as a student at the College of Naval Warfare. His paper, "Naval Presence: the Misunderstood Mission", was the Presidential Prize Essay and was published in the Naval War College Review, September-October, 1974 issue. In l974 he was promoted to captain and was awarded the United States Navy Commendation Medal. The following year he earned another Master's degree, this one in Marine Affairs, from the University of Rhode Island.

During the years 1974 to 1977 McNulty continued to teach and work at the Naval War College, first in Naval Operations and then as special assistant to the President and later as chief of staff. In 1977 the opportunity arose to leave the Navy for an academic position and McNulty decided to retire to become Academic Dean at the Maine Maritime Academy in . Castine, Maine. In 1979 he went to the Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston and continues on the faculty there.

Chronology of Naval Service

Born, Lawrence, Massachusetts, September 30.
Graduated from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Buzzards Bay, Mass., B.S. in Marine and Electrical Engineering.
Gulf Oil Corporation, Engineering Officer.
USS BOWMAN COUNTY (LST-391), Engineering Officer.
USS WINDHAM COUNTY (LST-1170), Engineering Officer.
Promoted to Lieutenant J.G.
Philadelphia Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Engineering Assistant.
Promoted to Lieutenant.
USS ROOKS (DD-804), Engineering Officer.
USS BENHAM (DD-796), Operations/Navigation.
Tufts University, B.A. in History and Government.
USS KIOWA (ATF-72), Commanding Officer.
Promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
USN Destroyer School, Newport, R.I., Technical Instructor.
Naval War College, Newport, R.I., Student at College of Naval Command and Staff.
George Washington University, M.S. in International Affairs.
USS ROBISON (DDG-12), Executive Officer; promoted to Commander.
Naval War College, Newport, R.I., Staff, Naval Command Course.
Office of the CNO, Washington, D.C., Special Assistant.
USS FARRAGUT (DLG-6), Commanding Officer.
Naval War College, Newport, R.I., Student at College of Naval Warfare.
Promoted to Captain, received U.S. Navy Commendation Medal.
Naval War College, Newport, R.I., Staff, Naval Tactics.
University of Rhode Island, M.S. in Marine Affairs.
Naval War College, Chief of Staff Special Assistant.
Maine Maritime Academy, Castine, Me., Academic Dean.
Texas Maritime Academy, Galveston, Texas, Faculty.


10 boxes

Language of Materials



Correspondence, 1959–1976; Career file, 1950–1977; Speeches written for VADM Richard G. Colbert, 1969–1972, ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt, 1970–1974,; Writings for degree programs and publication, including topics on U.S. and Soviet Sea Power, U.S. Naval presence, 1971 International Sea Power Symposium, Naval War College missions and objectives, mooring and towing procedures, Sea Grant Colleges, 1962–1975; Subject file consisting of research materials for speeches and writings; Miscellany, including notes, notebooks and photographs of CAPT McNulty and family, Naval War College groups and ships; Classified speeches and writings, 1970–1972.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Naval Historical Collection Repository

US Naval War College
686 Cushing Rd
Newport RI 02841 US