Obama Nominates Nuclear Chief To Head Navy

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program Adm. John Richardson hold a press conference at the Pentagon, on Feb. 4, 2014.

U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Peter D. Lawlor

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Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program Adm. John Richardson hold a press conference at the Pentagon, on Feb. 4, 2014.

Adm. John Richardson, a submariner, would become the first head of the Navy’s nuclear-propulsion shop to rise to chief of naval operations.

U.S. President Barack Obama will nominate Adm. John Richardson, the head of the military’s nuclear-powered ship programs, to lead the Navy at a time when the sea service is struggling to find money to buy new submarines.

If confirmed, Richardson would become the first head of the nuclear Navy to rise to his service’s top uniformed post. He has spent most of his career around submarines and is only two and a half years into his eight-year term as head of Naval Nuclear Propulsion. One of the most powerful jobs in the military, the nuclear chief reports to the Energy and Navy secretaries.

Richardson, a Naval Academy graduate who holds three masters degrees, including one from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, would replace fellow submariner Adm. Jon Greenert.


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As head of Naval Nuclear Propulsion, Richardson has cleaned up a cheating scandal within the ranks of the service’s nuclear-trained sailors and driven down cost estimates for the expensive Ohio-Class submarine replacement. He has also held prestigious high-level Navy positions in Europe.

“He’s a bold thinker, a tremendous leader, and the go-to officer for many of the Navy’s tough issues in recent years, from preparing for the Ohio-class replacement ballistic missile submarine to handling problems of integrity and ethics,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the Pentagon Wednesday.

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