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Adm. Mike Gilday Takes Over as U.S. Navy's Top Officer

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L to R: Secretary Spencer, Adm. Richardson and Adm. Gilday (courtesy USN)

By The Maritime Executive 2019-08-22 17:08:33

On Thursday, Adm. Mike Gilday became the U.S. Navy's most senior officer in a ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard, relieving Adm. John Richardson as chief of naval operations (CNO).

He is now responsible for Navy policy, operations and performance, under the direction of Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he will also advise the White House and the Department of Defense on national security matters. 

Spencer nominated Gilday, a three-star admiral, after Vice CNO Adm. Bill Moran withdrew his name from consideration. Though Moran was widely seen as Richardson's likely successor, revelations of Moran's ongoing ties with a disgraced former aide led him to request to retire. Spencer widened his search for a replacement beyond the ranks of four-star admirals, and he ultimately selected Gilday. It is the first time in five decades that a three-star admiral has been promoted directly to the Navy's top post. 

In a speech at the ceremony, Spencer thanked outgoing CNO Adm. Richardson for his service. “As much as Adm. Richardson has done for our capabilities and processes, he’s done more for our people. Thanks to his efforts, the men and women of the U.S. Navy are safer, better prepared, and better commanded while standing watch around the world," Spencer said. “Adm. Gilday has already played a critical role in restoring our readiness and lethality, and he’s well positioned to help take our integrated naval force into the next decade.”

Adm. Gilday also thanked Adm. Richardson and Mrs. Dana Richardson for their leadership and contributions to the Navy community. “You have given so much – and accomplished so much – all of it quietly and humbly, yet so effectively," he said. "We are modernizing our Navy at a scope and pace not seen in decades. I can say all that, in large part, due to the leadership of our 31st CNO."

In his speech, Richardson also praised Gilday and spoke about some of his accomplishments.

“Admiral Gilday is a true cutting edge warfighter, a surface warrior who, by virtue of his leadership at 10th Fleet, fully appreciates the challenges we face in the cyber warfare arena and the increasing pace of competition in new domains,” he said. “His experience as the director of the Joint Staff will ensure that the Navy continues to look for every opportunity to collaborate with other services, allies, and partners around the world. The Navy will be in good hands with Admiral Gilday at the helm.”