Admiral John Richardson relieved Admiral Jonathan Greenert as the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) in a ceremony on September 18 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Richardson became the 31st CNO, the Navy's most senior officer and, as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a principal advisor to the Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of the Defense and the President.
The Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, spoke to mark the significance of the event.
"We are here today to mark the change of command in one of the most storied, most historic and iconic posts in our military or any military - the Chief of Naval Operations," said Mabus. "This job has been held by Leahy and King and Nimitz and Burke and Zumwalt - the very title implies action."
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, the senior Pentagon official in attendance, presided over the event. Carter spoke of the Navy's many accomplishments during Greenert's tenure.
"With Admiral Greenert standing the watch, America's sailors and marines have been where it matters, when it matters - rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific, where much of America's future will be written; reinforcing our longstanding NATO allies; supporting our forces ashore in the turbulent Middle East; and providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief the world over, in a way that only America can and does do," said Carter.
The new CNO briefly discussed his worldview and the optimism he has for the future.
"I think that deep in our guts we sense a shift in the world, and we sense that once again it will be vitally important to protect our interests on the seas," said Richardson. "As an American and as your CNO, I am very optimistic. Because this is exactly the environment in which Americans thrive, and we will thrive."
In his farewell speech, Greenert, after four years as CNO and 40 years of honorable service as a naval officer, thanked those who served with him during his tenure, his friends, family and the men and women serving in the U.S. Navy.
"People are this country's asymmetric advantage," said Greenert. "We talk a lot about the sailors, but it's also the civilians. It's also the families. It's great American willing to do the job. They are our advantage."
Greenert also praised his successor.
"Challenges remain, but we have the right team," said Greenert. "Admiral Richardson has all that it takes, but he also has what it takes, and that is Dana [his wife], and they are ready to meet those challenges."
Admiral John Richardson graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. He holds master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and National Security Strategy from the National War College.
At sea, Richardson served on USS Parche (SSN 683), USS George C. Marshall (SSBN 654) and USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716). He commanded USS Honolulu (SSN 718) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Richardson also served as commodore of Submarine Development Squadron (DEVRON) 12; commander, Submarine Group 8; commander, Submarine Allied Naval Forces South; deputy commander, U.S. 6th Fleet; chief of staff, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Africa; commander, Naval Submarine Forces, and director of Naval Reactors.
His staff assignments include duty in the attack submarine division on the Chief of Naval Operations staff; naval aide to the President; prospective commanding officer instructor for Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet; assistant deputy director for Regional Operations on the Joint Staff; and director of Strategy and Policy at U.S. Joint Forces Command.
Richardson served on teams that have been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Navy Unit Commendation, and the Navy “E” Ribbon. He was awarded the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for his time in command of USS Honolulu.
Richardson began serving as the 31st Chief of Naval Operations September 18, 2015.