May 29 (UPI) — Kenneth J. Braithwaite, appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017 as U.S. ambassador to Norway, was sworn in Friday as Secretary of the U.S. Navy.
A retired rear admiral, Braithwaite is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Pennsylvania, the Naval War College and the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. His business career includes positions with Atlantic Richfield and St. Thomas Health System in Nashville.
The Senate confirmed Braithwaite last week after his May 7 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in which he offered a negative assessment of current Navy management.
“It saddens me to say [that] the Department of the Navy is in troubled waters due to many factors, primarily the failings of leadership. Whether ship collisions, judicial missteps or the crisis on USS [Theodore] Roosevelt, they are all indicative of a breakdown in the trust of those leading the service,” Braithwaite said at his confirmation hearing.
“I won’t say it’s broken,” he continued. “I think it’s been tarnished. I think the events over the last several years have helped see that to occur. And if I’m confirmed, I will make sure that I get at that, again, predicated on good order and discipline.”
Braithwaite emerged as a possible choice to replace former Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer, who was ousted in February over Spencer’s handling of the case of war crimes allegedly committed by former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher. Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly then served as acting secretary until he resigned in April following criticism of his removal of Cmdr. Brett Crozier, commanding officer of USS Theodore Roosevelt, as the aircraft carrier dealt with an onboard COVID-19 crisis while deployed.
Braithwaite was sworn in by Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a private ceremony, employing safe distancing protocols, on Friday.
“The object of success for our service is simple: American seapower,” Braithwaite said in part in a message to Navy personnel after his swearing-in ceremony. “America always has been and always will be a maritime nation. America and our principles of freedom rely on seapower delivered by a strong and capable Navy and Marine Corps. Each of you provides that power through your actions each day, actions that demonstrate our resolve to place service above self.”