The White House announced it is nominating Carlos Del Toro, a former Navy commander and president of a small information technology firm, to be the next Secretary of the Navy.

In the Biden administration’s announcement on June 11 it said Del Toro served in the Navy for 22 years, including as the first commanding officer of the Arleigh Burke

-class destroyer USS Bulkeley, Senior Executive Assistant to the Director for Program Analysis and Evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Special Assistant to the Director and Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

For the last 17 years, Del Toro has been the CEO and president of SBG Technology Solutions, which he founded in 2004.

“As CEO and President of SBG Technology Solutions, Del Toro has supported defense programs across a host of immediate and long-term Navy issue areas, including shipbuilding, AI, cybersecurity, acquisition programs, space systems, health, and training,” the White House said in the announcement.

Del Toro was born in Havana, Cuba and would be the second Hispanic Navy Secretary after Eduardo Hidalgo, who served in the Carter administration.

The White House noted he was the first Hispanic president of the White House Fellows Foundation and Alumni association, serves on the Board of Directors of the Stimson Center, and was recently appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association’s Special Commission on Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion.

If confirmed, Del Toro will relieve Thomas Harker, who has served in an acting role since President Joe Biden took office in January. Harker previously served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Financial Management and Comptroller.

Top Democratic leaders in the congressional armed services committees welcomed the selection and nomination.

“Carlos Del Toro is an excellent selection to be the next Secretary of the Navy.  He has an impressive resume and exemplifies so many of the qualities that make the Navy and our nation great.  Carlos rose through the ranks of the Navy with a distinguished record of service, leadership, and innovation,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

“We must strengthen the readiness and capacity of the Navy and Marine Corps. Carlos Del Toro is uniquely well-qualified to address these challenges and help steer the Navy and Marine Corps in the right direction. I look forward to scheduling his hearing, carefully reviewing his record, and learning more about his priorities for Navy programs and advancing the fleet of manned and unmanned vessels,” Reed added. 

Similarly, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), approved of the choice.

“Mr. Del Toro is a proven leader who is well equipped to lead our Navy. His story is uniquely American, as is his service to our nation, which include multiple deployments during the Cold War and Operation Desert Shield and Storm and culminated in his selection for the rank of Captain and Major Command at Sea,” said in a statement.

“With decades of experience, both in and out of uniform, Del Toro is an excellent pick to lead the Navy and I look forward to working with him once confirmed by the Senate,” Adams continued.

“I welcome President Biden’s nomination of Carlos Del Toro as the next Secretary of the Navy,” HASC subcommittee on seapower and projection forces chairman Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), said in a separate statement.

“As we dig into the Navy’s budget request and consider our options for building the fleet and capabilities we need, it is critical to have a permanent civilian leader to work with Congress. If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with him to ensure that our Navy and Marine Corps has the support, investment, and clear plans needed to meet the challenges ahead of us,” Courtney added.

Del Toro is the last of the three service secretaries the Biden administration announced.

It first tapped former top DoD policy official Christine Wormuth to be Secretary of the Army (Defense Daily April 12), and then selected former top Pentagon acquisition official Frank Kendall to be the Secretary of the Air Force (Defense Daily, April 27).

If confirmed, Del Toro will have to navigate pressures to both expand the Navy, with congressional directive to increase the combat fleet to 355 ships, while also likely facing flat defense budgets. 

Already, the Navy’s fiscal year 2022 budget request plans to divest several capabilities early to save $1.3 billion, including decommissioning two Ticonderoga-class cruisers on top of previous planned cruiser retirements and divesting of littoral combat ships 3, 4, 7 and 9 on top of previous allowances to retire LCS-1 and 2 (Defense Daily, May 28).

The Navy has also received significant pushback on its decision to procure only one Arleigh Burke-class destroyer rather than the originally two planned, thus breaking a multiyear procurement contract. 

When the budget was released, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. John Gumbleton said the destroyer decision was an affordability question while trying to balance the top priority of maintaining full work on the new Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine and prioritizing readiness (Defense Daily, June 2).

The Navy listed the planned second destroyer as its top unfunded priority in an annual list sent to Congress, at a cost of $1.66 billion (Defense Daily, June 2).