Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Thursday that the president nominated Rear Adm. Richard Brown, commander of the Navy Personnel Command (NPC), to be appointed vice admiral and assigned as commander of Naval Surface Forces.
If confirmed by the Senate for the new position, Brown would also serve as commander of Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. He has headed NPC since September 2016.
Earlier in his career Brown served as commanding officer of the USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), the USS Gettysburg (CG-64) and later commander of Carrier Strike Group 11 starting in 2015. He has also served as flag secretarty for supreme allied commander Atlantic/commander in chief U.S. Joint Forces Command, strategy and policy brach head for the Officie of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), and commanding officer of the Surface Warfare Officers School Command.
Brown is set to replace Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, who in September requested to retire a few months early. His request came after several high-level Navy officials were fired in the aftermath of several 7th Fleet surface vessel mishaps over the past year.
In August the Defense Department relieved Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin as commander of the 7th Fleet following two deadly Arleigh Burke-class destroyer collisions (Defense Daily, Aug. 23). His successor, Vice Adnm. Phil Sawyer, in September relieved the commanders of Task Force 70 (CTF-70) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON)15 (Defense Daily, Sept. 18). The Navy also relieved the commanding officers of the damaged USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and John S. McCain (DDG-56) and issued upward of 20 reprimands to officers (Defense Daily, Sept. 19).
In October, Rowden ordered Ready For Sea Assessments (RFSAs) for all surface vessels, as one measure to prevent future mishaps. They include two days to evaluate administrative matters and at-sea proficiency and abilities. Rowden issued the RFSA guidance in a Warfighter Serials set of messages that provide guidance on readiness (Defense Daily, Oct. 25).