Adm. Bill Moran, who was confirmed and set to be sworn in as the next Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) in August, has abruptly declined the appointment and decided to retire after the Secretary of the Navy questioned his judgment.

Moran said Sunday he was retiring due to an open investigation into years of email exchanges with a retired former staffer “who had while in uniform been investigated and held accountable over allegations of inappropriate behavior,” according to a statement.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) Adm. Bill Moran. Photo: U.S. Navy.

This development was first reported by the Associated Press.

The Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General is conducting an investigation into the matter.

Moran was in the process of transitioning to become CNO after serving as Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) since May 2016

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said the current CNO, Adm. John Richardson, will remain in the position and he will make a recommendation for a new CNO candidate to Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The abrupt retirement does not leave much time for consideration of another nomination before the Senate takes its recess in August.

Moran was nominated to be CNO in April to succeed Richardson. He previously served as Chief of Naval personnel from 2013 to 2016 and Director of Air Warfare on the staff of the CNO (Defense Daily, April 11). He was then confirmed by the Senate in May (Defense Daily, May 24).

Moran was already succeeded as Vice Chief of Naval Operations by Adm. Robert Burke, who previously served as Chief of Naval Personnel. Burke assumed the duties of VCNO on June 10 (Defense Daily, June 14).