Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced President Biden made several Navy flag officer nominations on April 14, including the top requirements officer, Navy inspector general and commanders of 3rd Fleet, 5th Fleet, and 7th Fleet.
Current commander of 3rd Fleet Vice Adm. Scott Conn, is nominated to be reappointed as vice admiral and assigned as deputy Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) for warfighting requirements and capabilities, N9 (OPNAV N9).
Conn has served as commander of the 3rd Fleet since September 2019. Previously he served as director of air warfare (N98) on the staff of the Office of the CNO, commanding Carrier Strike Group Four; Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, Carrier Air Wing 11, the FA-18 series Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106; and VFA-136.
Conn is set to succeed current N-9 lead Vice Adm. James Kilby.
Conn is set to be succeeded as commander of 3rd Fleet by Rear Adm. Stephen Koehler, who was nominated to rise to vice admiral. Koehler currently serves as deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet and has been in the role since October 2020. Previously, Koehler served as director for Operations at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, director of Fleet/Joint Training at U.S. Fleet Forces Command as well as commander of USS Bataan (LHD-5), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), and Carrier Strike Group Nine.
Rear Adm. Charles Cooper II was nominated to be reappointed to the same grade and assigned as commander of U.S. 5th Fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, and commander of Combined Maritime Forces based in Manama, Bahrain. He most recently served as commander of Naval Surface Force Atlantic and previously served as chief of legislative affairs, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea, and commander of Expeditionary Strike Group Seven.
Cooper is set to succeed Vice Adm. Samuel Paparo at 5th Fleet, who in March was appointed admiral and assigned to succeed Adm. Jon Aquilino as commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. Aquilino was nominated to lead U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (Defense Daily, March 8).
DoD is appointing Rear Adm. Karl Thomas as vice admiral and assigned as commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan. Thomas is set to succeed Vice Adm. William Merz.
Thomas has been serving as the assistant deputy CNO for Plans and Strategy, N3/N5B in the Office of the CNO since October 2019. Previously, he served as executive assistant to the Director, Air Warfare (N98), as director of the 21st Century Sailor Office (N17), commanded 6th Fleet command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20), commanded the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) for its mid-life refueling complex overhaul, and was commander of Task Force Seven Zero/commander of Carrier Strike Group Five on the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).
DoD appointed Rear Adm. John Fuller as vice admiral and assignment as the next inspector general for the Department of the Navy. Fuller currently serves as deputy director for Force Protection, J-8 on the Joint Staff and leads three force protection divisions. Earlier in his career Fuller commanded Navy Region Hawaii/ Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, Carrier Strike Group 1, the USS Mason (DDG-87), Task Group-Iraqi Maritime, and Destroyer Squadron 22.
Rear Adm. Kelly Aeschbach was nominated for appointment to vice admiral and assignment as commander of Naval Information Forces. She has been serving as director of the National Maritime Intelligence integration Office and commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence since June 2019.
Aeschbach previously served as the director of Intelligence at U.S. Strategic Command and commanding officer for Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic in Norfolk, Va. from 2013 to 2015.
Separately, Rear Adm. (lower half) Robert Clark was nominated to be appointed to rear admiral (upper half). He currently serves as deputy commander of the 7th Fleet. Rear Adm. (lower half) Nancy Lacore was nominated to rear admiral (upper half) and currently serves as chief of staff for U.S. 6th Fleet/Naval Forces Europe/Naval Forces Africa based in Naples, Italy. Rear Adm. (lower half) Eileen Laubacher was nominated to rear admiral (upper half) and currently serves as senior defense office/defense attaché in New Delhi, India. Rear Adm. (lower half) Theodore LeClair was also nominated to rear admiral (upper half) and serves as mobilization assistant to the director for Operations, J3 at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii.