President Donald Trump on Thursday nominated a naval aviator with extensive experience in budgeting and personnel reform to become the next officer to lead the U.S. Navy.
Navy Adm. Bill Moran, who piloted P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft during the Cold War, is currently the Navy's vice chief. If confirmed by the Senate, he would become the 32nd chief of naval operations and take over from Adm. John Richardson, who is retiring.
Trump also nominated Vice Adm. Robert Burke, a submariner with experience on both attack and nuclear-armed vessels, to be the next vice chief of the Navy. He is currently the deputy for personnel and training.
Moran takes over a Navy that is struggling to overcome command, crew and training shortfalls that led to two deadly ship collisions in 2017, killing 17 sailors. A number of officers and sailors were fired, disciplined or faced courts-martial in the wake of the collisions, and the Navy launched a series of reforms to address the problems.
He also will direct the fleet's transition to a global fight against peer competitors, such as Russia and China, including the ongoing development of the new naval Atlantic Command. The command is designed to ensure the security of the sea lanes and lines of communication between Europe and North America as part of an effort to counter Russia's increased military patrols in the Atlantic region.
Moran has risen steadily through the ranks and has a reputation as a strong leader who has held a number of top administrative posts in the Navy.
A 1981 graduate of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., he flew patrol and reconnaissance missions throughout the 1980s and 1990s, serving in Atlantic and Pacific squadrons. He served as head of air warfare, working to modernize Navy aircraft and weapons systems and was chief of naval personnel from 2013 to 2016, and then moved to the vice chief job.
"He has been central to the Navy adopting a fighting stance in this great power competition," Richardson said in a statement. "As I turn over and go ashore, I will rest easy knowing that, pending confirmation, Adm. Moran has the watch."
Moran, who is from New York, issued a statement Thursday saying that he was "honored and deeply humbled by the nomination and look forward to working with Congress during the confirmation process."
Burke, who grew up in Michigan, graduated from Western Michigan University and the University of Central Florida. He served on attack and ballistic missile submarines, was an instructor at the Naval Nuclear Power School, and commanded Submarine Group 8 in Naples, Italy.
He served at deputy commander of the Navy's 6th Fleet in Europe and became chief of naval personnel in 2016.