United States Secretary of the Navy
The Secretary of the Navy (or SECNAV) is a statutory officer (10 U.S.C. § 5013) and the head (chief executive officer) of the Department of the Navy, a military department (component organization) within the Department of Defense of the United States of America.
|Secretary of the Navy|
Seal of the Department of the Navy
Flag of the Secretary of the Navy
|Department of the Navy|
(formal address in writing)
|Reports to||Secretary of Defense|
Deputy Secretary of Defense
with Senate advice and consent
|Inaugural holder||Benjamin Stoddert|
|Formation||18 June 1798|
|Succession||3rd in SecDef succession|
|Deputy||The Under Secretary|
(Principal Civilian Deputy)
Chief of Naval Operations
(Navy Advisor and Deputy)
(Marine Corps Advisor and Deputy)
|Salary||Executive Schedule, level II|
The Secretary of the Navy must be a civilian by law, at least 5 years removed from active military service. The Secretary is appointed by the President and requires confirmation by a majority vote of the Senate.
The Secretary of the Navy was, from its creation in 1798, a member of the President's Cabinet until 1949, when the Secretary of the Navy (and the Secretaries of the Army and Air Force) was by amendments to the National Security Act of 1947 made subordinate to the Secretary of Defense.
The office has been vacant since November 24, 2019, when Richard V. Spencer was fired. Under Secretary Thomas Modly is serving as acting secretary until a successor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Trump said he would nominate Kenneth Braithwaite to become the next Secretary of the Navy.
The Department of the Navy (DoN) consists of two Uniformed Services: the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps. The Secretary of the Navy is responsible for, and has statutory authority (10 U.S.C. § 5013) to "conduct all the affairs of the Department of the Navy", i.e. as its chief executive officer, subject to the limits of the law, and the directions of the President and the Secretary of Defense. In effect, all authority within the Navy and Marine Corps, unless specifically exempted by law, is derivative of the authority vested in the Secretary of the Navy.
Specifically enumerated responsibilities of the SECNAV in the before-mentioned section are: recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training, mobilizing, and demobilizing. The Secretary also oversees the construction, outfitting, and repair of naval ships, equipment, and facilities. SECNAV is responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies and programs that are consistent with the national security policies and objectives established by the President or the Secretary of Defense.
The Secretary of the Navy is a member of the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB), chaired by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Furthermore, the Secretary has several statutory responsibilities under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) with respect to the administration of the military justice system for the Navy & the Marine Corps, including the authority to convene general courts-martial and to commute sentences.
The principal military advisers to the SECNAV are the two service chiefs of the naval services: for matters regarding the Navy the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), and for matters regarding the Marine Corps the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC). The CNO and the Commandant act as the principal executive agents of the SECNAV within their respective services to implement the orders of the Secretary.
The United States Navy Regulations is the principal regulatory document of the Department of the Navy, and any changes to it can only be approved by the Secretary of the Navy.
U.S. Coast Guard
Whenever the United States Coast Guard operates as a service within the Department of the Navy, the Secretary of the Navy has the same powers and duties with respect to the Coast Guard as the Secretary of Homeland Security when the Coast Guard is not operating as a service in the Department of the Navy.
The Navy Secretariat
The Office of the Secretary of the Navy, also known within DoD as the Navy Secretariat or simply just as the Secretariat in a DoN setting, is the immediate headquarters staff that supports the Secretary in discharging his duties. The principal officials of the Secretariat include the Under Secretary of the Navy (the Secretary's principal civilian deputy), the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy (ASN), the General Counsel of the Department of the Navy, the Judge Advocate General of the Navy (JAG), the Naval Inspector General (NIG), the Chief of Legislative Affairs, and the Chief of Naval Research. The Office of the Secretary of the Navy has sole responsibility within the Department of the Navy for acquisition, auditing, financial and information management, legislative affairs, public affairs, research, and development.
The Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps have their own separate staffs, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (also known by its acronym OPNAV) and Headquarters Marine Corps.
Secretaries of the Navy
|Position||Picture||Name||Term of Office|
|Chairman of the Marine Committee||John Adams||13 October 1775 – 1779|
|Member of the Marine Committee||John Langdon||13 October 1775–?|
|Member of the Marine Committee||Silas Deane||13 October 1775–?|
|Member of the Marine Committee||Joseph Hewes||1775|
|Continental Navy Board
(under Marine Committee)
|6 November 1776 – 28 October 1779|
|Chairman of the Continental Board of Admiralty||Francis Lewis||December 1779 – 1780|
|Secretary of Marine||Alexander McDougall||7 February 1781 – 29 August 1781|
|Agent of Marine
(devolved onto Superintendent of Finance)
|Robert Morris||29 August 1781 – 1784|
(Post of Secretary of Marine created but remained vacant)
Executive Department 1798–1949
|No.||Picture||Name||State||Term of Office||Served under|
|1||Benjamin Stoddert||Maryland||18 June 1798 – 31 March 1801||John Adams/Thomas Jefferson|
|2||Robert Smith||Maryland||27 July 1801 – 4 March 1809||Thomas Jefferson|
|3||Paul Hamilton||South Carolina||15 May 1809 – 31 December 1812||James Madison|
|4||William Jones||Pennsylvania||19 January 1813 – 1 December 1814|
|5||Benjamin W. Crowninshield||Massachusetts||16 January 1815 – 30 September 1818|
|6||Smith Thompson||New York||1 January 1819 – 31 August 1823|
|7||Samuel L. Southard||New Jersey||16 September 1823 – 4 March 1829|
|John Quincy Adams|
|8||John Branch||North Carolina||9 March 1829 – 12 May 1831||Andrew Jackson|
|9||Levi Woodbury||New Hampshire||23 May 1831 – 30 June 1834|
|10||Mahlon Dickerson||New Jersey||1 July 1834 – 30 June 1838|
|Martin Van Buren|
|11||James K. Paulding||New York||1 July 1838 – 4 March 1841|
|12||George E. Badger||North Carolina||6 March 1841 – 11 September 1841||William Henry Harrison|
|13||Abel P. Upshur||Virginia||11 October 1841 – 23 July 1843|
|14||David Henshaw||Massachusetts||24 July 1843 – 18 February 1844|
|15||Thomas W. Gilmer||Virginia||19 February 1844 – 28 February 1844|
|16||John Y. Mason||Virginia||26 March 1844 – 4 March 1845|
|17||George Bancroft||Massachusetts||11 March 1845 – 9 September 1846||James Knox Polk|
|18||John Y. Mason||Virginia||10 September 1846 – 4 March 1849|
|19||William B. Preston||Virginia||8 March 1849 – 22 July 1850||Zachary Taylor|
|20||William A. Graham||North Carolina||2 August 1850 – 25 July 1852||Millard Fillmore|
|21||John P. Kennedy||Maryland||26 July 1852 – 4 March 1853|
|22||James C. Dobbin||North Carolina||8 March 1853 – 4 March 1857||Franklin Pierce|
|23||Isaac Toucey||Connecticut||7 March 1857 – 4 March 1861||James Buchanan|
|24||Gideon Welles||Connecticut||7 March 1861 – 4 March 1869||Abraham Lincoln|
|25||Adolph E. Borie||Pennsylvania||9 March 1869 – 25 June 1869||Ulysses S. Grant|
|26||George M. Robeson||New Jersey||26 June 1869 – 4 March 1877|
|(acting)||William Faxon||4 March 1877 – 13 March 1877||Rutherford B. Hayes|
|27||Richard W. Thompson||Indiana||13 March 1877 – 20 December 1880|
|28||Nathan Goff, Jr.||West Virginia||7 January 1881 – 4 March 1881|
|29||William H. Hunt||Louisiana||7 March 1881 – 16 April 1882||James Garfield|
|Chester A. Arthur|
|30||William E. Chandler||New Hampshire||16 April 1882 – 4 March 1885|
|31||William C. Whitney||New York||7 March 1885 – 4 March 1889||Grover Cleveland|
|32||Benjamin F. Tracy||New York||6 March 1889 – 4 March 1893||Benjamin Harrison|
|33||Hilary A. Herbert||Alabama||7 March 1893 – 4 March 1897||Grover Cleveland|
|34||John D. Long||Massachusetts||6 March 1897 – 30 April 1902||William McKinley|
|35||William H. Moody||Massachusetts||1 May 1902 – 30 June 1904|
|36||Paul Morton||Illinois||1 July 1904 – 30 June 1905|
|37||Charles J. Bonaparte||Maryland||1 July 1905 – 16 December 1906|
|38||Victor H. Metcalf||California||17 December 1906 – 30 November 1908|
|39||Truman H. Newberry||Michigan||1 December 1908 – 4 March 1909|
|40||George von Lengerke Meyer||Massachusetts||6 March 1909 – 4 March 1913||William Howard Taft|
|41||Josephus Daniels||North Carolina||5 March 1913 – 4 March 1921||Woodrow Wilson|
|42||Edwin C. Denby||Michigan||6 March 1921 – 10 March 1924||Warren G. Harding|
|(acting)||Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.||10 March 1924 – 19 March 1924|
|43||Curtis D. Wilbur||California||19 March 1924 – 4 March 1929|
|44||Charles F. Adams III||Massachusetts||5 March 1929 – 4 March 1933||Herbert Hoover|
|45||Claude A. Swanson||Virginia||4 March 1933 – 7 July 1939||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|46||Charles Edison||New Jersey||7 July 1939 – 2 January 1940|
|2 January 1940 – 24 June 1940|
|(acting)||Lewis Compton||24 June 1940 – 11 July 1940|
|47||Frank Knox||Illinois||11 July 1940 – 28 April 1944|
|(acting)||Ralph A. Bard||28 April 1944 – 19 May 1944|
|48||James V. Forrestal||New York||19 May 1944 – 17 September 1947|
|Harry S. Truman|
|49||John L. Sullivan||18 September 1947||24 May 1949|
|50||Francis P. Matthews||25 May 1949||10 August 1949|
Military Department (Department of Defense) 1949–present
|No.||Image||Name||Term of Office||Served under:|
|Began||Ended||Days of Service||Secretary||President|
|50||Francis P. Matthews||10 August 1949||31 July 1951||797||Louis A. Johnson
George C. Marshall
|Harry S. Truman|
|51||Dan A. Kimball||31 July 1951||20 January 1953||539||George C. Marshall|
Robert A. Lovett
|52||Robert B. Anderson||4 February 1953||3 March 1954||392||Charles E. Wilson||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|53||Charles S. Thomas||3 May 1954||1 April 1957||1064|
|54||Thomas S. Gates, Jr.||1 April 1957||8 June 1959||798||Charles E. Wilson|
Neil H. McElroy
|55||William B. Franke||8 June 1959||19 January 1961||591||Neil H. McElroy|
Thomas S. Gates, Jr.
|56||John B. Connally||25 January 1961||20 December 1961||329||Robert S. McNamara||John F. Kennedy|
|57||Fred Korth||4 January 1962||1 November 1963||666|
|(acting)||Paul B. Fay||2 November 1963||28 November 1963||26||John F. Kennedy|
Lyndon B. Johnson
|58||Paul H. Nitze||29 November 1963||30 June 1967||1309||Lyndon B. Johnson|
|(acting)||Charles F. Baird||1 July 1967||31 August 1967||61|
|59||Paul R. Ignatius||1 September 1967||24 January 1969||511||Robert S. McNamara
Melvin R. Laird
|Lyndon B. Johnson|
Richard M. Nixon
|60||John H. Chafee||31 January 1969||4 May 1972||1189||Melvin R. Laird||Richard M. Nixon|
|61||John W. Warner||4 May 1972||8 April 1974||704||Melvin R. Laird|
James R. Schlesinger
|62||J. William Middendorf||8 April 1974||20 January 1977||1018||James R. Schlesinger
Donald H. Rumsfeld
|Richard M. Nixon|
|63||W. Graham Claytor, Jr.||14 February 1977||24 August 1979||921||Harold Brown||Jimmy Carter|
|64||Edward Hidalgo||24 October 1979||20 January 1981||454|
|65||John Lehman||5 February 1981||10 April 1987||2255||Caspar W. Weinberger||Ronald Reagan|
|66||Jim Webb||1 May 1987||23 February 1988||298||Caspar W. Weinberger|
Frank C. Carlucci
|67||William L. Ball||28 March 1988||15 May 1989||413||Frank C. Carlucci
Richard B. Cheney
George H. W. Bush
|68||Henry L. Garrett III||15 May 1989||26 June 1992||1138||Richard B. Cheney||George H. W. Bush|
|(acting)||Daniel Howard||26 June 1992||7 July 1992||11|
|69||Sean O'Keefe||7 July 1992||2 October 1992||87|
|2 October 1992||20 January 1993||110|
|(acting)||Admiral Frank B. Kelso II||20 January 1993||21 July 1993||182||Les Aspin||Bill Clinton|
|70||John H. Dalton||22 July 1993||16 November 1998||1943||Les Aspin|
William J. Perry
William S. Cohen
|71||Richard Danzig||16 November 1998||20 January 2001||796||William S. Cohen|
|(acting)||Robert B. Pirie, Jr.||20 January 2001||24 May 2001||124||Donald H. Rumsfeld||George W. Bush|
|72||Gordon R. England||24 May 2001||30 January 2003||616|
|(acting)||Susan Livingstone||30 January 2003||7 February 2003||8|
|(acting)||Hansford T. Johnson||7 February 2003||30 September 2003||235|
|73||Gordon R. England||1 October 2003||29 December 2005||820|
|(acting)||Dionel M. Aviles||29 December 2005||3 January 2006||5|
|74||Donald C. Winter||3 January 2006||13 March 2009||1165||Donald H. Rumsfeld
Robert M. Gates
|George W. Bush|
|(acting)||B. J. Penn||13 March 2009||19 May 2009||67||Robert M. Gates||Barack Obama|
|75||Ray Mabus||19 May 2009||20 January 2017||2803||Robert M. Gates|
|(acting)||Sean Stackley||20 January 2017||3 August 2017||195||Jim Mattis
Patrick M. Shanahan (Acting)
Mark Esper (Acting)
Richard V. Spencer (Acting)
|76||Richard V. Spencer||3 August 2017||24 November 2019||843|
|(acting)||Thomas Modly||15 July 2019||31 July 2019||16|
|(acting)||Thomas Modly||24 November 2019||Incumbent||23|
- "Guide to Federal Records – General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1798–1947". Retrieved 23 September 2007.
- "The US Navy". Retrieved 23 September 2007.
- "US CODE: Title 10,5013. Secretary of the Navy". Retrieved 23 September 2007.
- "U.S. Navy Biographies – The Honorable Donald C. Winter". Retrieved 23 September 2007.
- "US CODE: Title 10,5013a. Secretary of the Navy: powers with respect to Coast Guard". Retrieved 23 September 2007.
- "US CODE: Title 10,5014. Office of the Secretary of the Navy". Retrieved 23 September 2007.
- "Department of the Navy, Office of the General Counsel (DON-OGC) – OGC History". Archived from the original on 24 July 2007. Retrieved 23 September 2007.
- Cahoon, Ben (2000). "United States Government". World Statesmen. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
- Joseph Hewes. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval Historical and Heritage Command.
- Benson J. Lossing. Household History for All Readers. 1877. Republished in Our Country vol. 2
- Staff reporter (29 December 2005). "Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Relinquishes Top Navy Post". American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
Navy Undersecretary Dionel M. Aviles will serve as acting Navy secretary effective today. Donald Winter, who was confirmed by the Senate last month, will be sworn in as the 74th secretary of the Navy on Jan. 3.
- "Navy Secretary Departs Office" (Press release). United States Department of Defense. 13 March 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
The 74th Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, resigned his office today as planned. Winter had agreed to remain in office until March 13, 2009, to ease the transition of the Department of Defense. [...] BJ Penn will be the acting Secretary of the Navy until the Senate confirms a nominee chosen by President Barack Obama.
- Staff reporter (19 May 2005). "Mabus Sworn in as New Navy Secretary". NNS. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
Ray Mabus, former Mississippi governor and U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was sworn in May 19 as the 75th secretary of the Navy.(Archived by WebCite at WebCite)
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