United States Secretary of the Navy

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Secretary of the Navy
Seal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg
Seal of the Department of the Navy
Flag of the United States Secretary of the Navy.svg
Flag of the Secretary of the Navy
Richard V. Spencer.jpg
Richard V. Spencer

since August 3, 2017
Department of the Navy
StyleMister Secretary
The Honorable
(formal address in writing)
Reports toSecretary of Defense
Deputy Secretary of Defense
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Inaugural holderBenjamin Stoddert
FormationJune 18, 1798
Succession3rd in SecDef succession
DeputyThe Under Secretary
(Principal Civilian Deputy)
Chief of Naval Operations
(Navy Advisor and Deputy)
The Commandant
(Marine Corps Advisor and Deputy)
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level II
WebsiteOfficial Website

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.

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.[1]


The Department of the Navy (DoN) consists of two Uniformed Services: the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps.[2] 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.[3][4]

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.

Navy Regulations[edit]

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[edit]

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 Navy.[5]

The Navy Secretariat[edit]

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.[6]

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[edit]

  Denotes acting Secretaries


Continental Congress[edit]

PositionPictureNameTerm of Office
Chairman of the Marine CommitteeUS Navy 031029-N-6236G-001 A painting of President John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd president of the United States, by Asher B. Durand (1767-1845)-crop.jpgJohn AdamsOctober 13, 1775 – 1779
Member of the Marine CommitteeJohn langdon.jpgJohn LangdonOctober 13, 1775–?
Member of the Marine CommitteeSilas Deane - Du Simitier and B.L. Prevost.jpgSilas DeaneOctober 13, 1775–?
Member of the Marine CommitteeJoseph Hewes.jpgJoseph Hewes1775[9]
Continental Navy Board
(under Marine Committee)
November 6, 1776–28 October 28, 1779
Chairman of the Continental Board of AdmiraltyFrancis Lewis.jpgFrancis LewisDecember 1779 – 1780
Secretary of MarineAlexanderMcdougall.jpgAlexander McDougallFebruary 7, 1781 – August 29, 1781
Agent of Marine
(devolved onto Superintendent of Finance)
Robert Morris.jpgRobert MorrisAugust 29, 1781 – 1784[10]

(Post of Secretary of Marine created but remained vacant)

Executive Department 1798–1947[edit]

No.PictureNameStateTerm of OfficeServed under
1Benjamin Stoddert SecNavy.jpgBenjamin StoddertMarylandJune 18, 1798 – March 31, 1801John Adams
2Robert Smith SecNavy.jpgRobert SmithMarylandJuly 27, 1801 – March 4, 1809Thomas Jefferson
3Paul Hamilton SecNavy.jpegPaul HamiltonSouth CarolinaMay 15, 1809 – December 31, 1812James Madison
4William-Jones.jpgWilliam JonesPennsylvaniaJanuary 19, 1813 – December 1, 1814
5BWCrowninshield.jpgBenjamin W. CrowninshieldMassachusettsJanuary 16, 1815 – September 30, 1818
James Monroe
6SmithThompson.jpgSmith ThompsonNew YorkJanuary 1, 1819 – August 31, 1823
7Samuel L. Southard SecNavy.jpgSamuel L. SouthardNew JerseySeptember 16, 1823 – March 4, 1829
John Quincy Adams
8JohnBranch2.jpgJohn BranchNorth CarolinaMarch 9, 1829 – May 12, 1831Andrew Jackson
9Levi Woodbury.jpgLevi WoodburyNew HampshireMay 23, 1831 – June 30, 1834
10Mahlon Dickerson.jpgMahlon DickersonNew JerseyJuly 1, 1834 – June 30, 1838
Martin Van Buren
11JKPaulding.jpgJames K. PauldingNew YorkJuly 1, 1838 – March 4, 1841
12GEBadger-portrait.jpgGeorge E. BadgerNorth CarolinaMarch 6, 1841 – September 11, 1841William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
13Abel P. Upshur SecNavy.jpgAbel P. UpshurVirginiaOctober 11, 1841 – July 23, 1843
14David Henshaw SecNavy.jpgDavid HenshawMassachusettsJuly 24, 1843 – February 18, 1844
15Thomas Gilmer newer.jpegThomas W. GilmerVirginiaFebruary 19, 1844 – February 28, 1844
16JYMason.jpgJohn Y. MasonVirginiaMarch 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845
17George Bancroft United States Secretary of Navy c. 1860.jpgGeorge BancroftMassachusettsMarch 11, 1845 – September 9, 1846James Knox Polk
18JYMason.jpgJohn Y. MasonVirginiaSeptember 10, 1846 – March 4, 1849
19WmBdPreston.jpgWilliam B. PrestonVirginiaMarch 8, 1849 – July 22, 1850Zachary Taylor
20William Alexander Graham - Brady-Handy.jpgWilliam A. GrahamNorth CarolinaAugust 2, 1850 – July 25, 1852Millard Fillmore
21JohnKennedy.jpgJohn P. KennedyMarylandJuly 26, 1852 – March 4, 1853
22JCDobbin.jpgJames C. DobbinNorth CarolinaMarch 8, 1853 – March 4, 1857Franklin Pierce
23Isaac Toucey - Brady-Handy.jpgIsaac TouceyConnecticutMarch 7, 1857 – March 4, 1861James Buchanan
24Gideon Welles - Ambrotype.jpgGideon WellesConnecticutMarch 7, 1861 – March 4, 1869Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
25Adolph Borie, Brady-Handy bw photo portrait, ca1860-1875.jpgAdolph E. BoriePennsylvaniaMarch 9, 1869 – June 25, 1869Ulysses S. Grant
26George Robeson 1865 1880.jpgGeorge M. RobesonNew JerseyJune 26, 1869 – March 4, 1877
(acting)William Faxon cropped.jpgWilliam FaxonMarch 4, 1877 – March 13, 1877Rutherford B. Hayes
27RWThompson.jpgRichard W. ThompsonIndianaMarch 13, 1877 – December 20, 1880
28Nathan Goff, Jr. - Brady-Handy.jpgNathan Goff, Jr.West VirginiaJanuary 7, 1881 – March 4, 1881
29William-Henry-Hunt.jpgWilliam H. HuntLouisianaMarch 7, 1881 – April 16, 1882James Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
30Wm Eaton Chandler.jpgWilliam E. ChandlerNew HampshireApril 16, 1882 – March 4, 1885
31William Collins Whitney by Charles Milton Bell c1892.jpgWilliam C. WhitneyNew YorkMarch 7, 1885 – March 4, 1889Grover Cleveland
32BFTracy.jpgBenjamin F. TracyNew YorkMarch 6, 1889 – March 4, 1893Benjamin Harrison
33Hilary A. Herbert.jpgHilary A. HerbertAlabamaMarch 7, 1893 – March 4, 1897Grover Cleveland
34JDLong.jpgJohn D. LongMassachusettsMarch 6, 1897 – April 30, 1902William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
35WHMoody.jpgWilliam H. MoodyMassachusettsMay 1, 1902 – June 30, 1904
36Paul Morton.jpgPaul MortonIllinoisJuly 1, 1904 – June 30, 1905
37CJBonaparte.jpgCharles J. BonaparteMarylandJuly 1, 1905 – December 16, 1906
38VHMetcalf.jpegVictor H. MetcalfCaliforniaDecember 17, 1906 – November 30, 1908
39Truman Handy Newberry.jpgTruman H. NewberryMichiganDecember 1, 1908 – March 4, 1909
40GvLMeyer.jpgGeorge von Lengerke MeyerMassachusettsMarch 6, 1909 – March 4, 1913William Howard Taft
41Josephus Daniels 1.jpgJosephus DanielsNorth CarolinaMarch 5, 1913 – March 4, 1921Woodrow Wilson
42ECDenby.jpgEdwin C. DenbyMichiganMarch 6, 1921 – March 10, 1924Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
(acting)Theodore Roosevelt Jr. 1921.jpgTheodore Roosevelt, Jr.March 10, 1924 – March 19, 1924
43Curtis Dwight Wilbur.jpgCurtis D. WilburCaliforniaMarch 19, 1924 – March 4, 1929
44CharlesAdamsIII.jpgCharles F. Adams IIIMassachusettsMarch 5, 1929 – March 4, 1933Herbert Hoover
45Claude Augustus Swanson.jpgClaude A. SwansonVirginiaMarch 4, 1933 – July 7, 1939Franklin D. Roosevelt
46Charles Edison.jpgCharles EdisonNew JerseyJuly 7, 1939 – January 2, 1940
January 2, 1940 – June 24, 1940
(acting)Lewis Compton (Assistant Secretary of the Navy).jpgLewis ComptonJune 24, 1940 – July 11, 1940
47Fknox.jpgFrank KnoxIllinoisJuly 11, 1940 – April 28, 1944
(acting)Ralph Bard 1922.jpgRalph A. BardApril 28, 1944 – May 19, 1944
48James Forrestal - SecOfDef.jpgJames V. ForrestalNew YorkMay 19, 1944 – September 17, 1947
Harry S. Truman

Military Department (Department of Defense) 1947–present[edit]

No.ImageNameTerm of OfficeServed under:
BeganEndedDays of ServiceSecretaryPresident
49John L Sullivan SecofNavy.jpgJohn L. Sullivan18 September 194724 May 1949614James V. Forrestal
Louis A. Johnson
Harry S. Truman
50Francis P. Matthews.jpgFrancis P. Matthews25 May 194931 July 1951797Louis A. Johnson
George C. Marshall
51DanAKimball.jpgDan A. Kimball31 July 195120 January 1953539George C. Marshall
Robert A. Lovett
52Robert B Anderson.jpegRobert B. Anderson4 February 19533 March 1954392Charles E. WilsonDwight D. Eisenhower
53CharlesSThomas.jpgCharles S. Thomas3 May 19541 April 19571064
54Thomas Gates official DoD photo.jpgThomas S. Gates, Jr.1 April 19578 June 1959798Charles E. Wilson
Neil H. McElroy
55WilliamBFranke.jpgWilliam B. Franke8 June 195919 January 1961591Neil H. McElroy
Thomas S. Gates, Jr.
56John Connally.jpgJohn B. Connally25 January 196120 December 1961329Robert S. McNamaraJohn F. Kennedy
57FredKorth.jpgFred Korth4 January 19621 November 1963666
(acting)PaulBFay.jpgPaul B. Fay2 November 196328 November 196326John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
58Paul Nitze.jpegPaul H. Nitze29 November 196330 June 19671309Lyndon B. Johnson
(acting)Charles F. Baird1 July 196731 August 196761
59Ignatius, Paul Robert.jpgPaul R. Ignatius1 September 196724 January 1969511Robert S. McNamara
Clark Clifford
Melvin R. Laird
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard M. Nixon
60John Chafee.jpgJohn H. Chafee31 January 19694 May 19721189Melvin R. LairdRichard M. Nixon
61John W Warner Sec of Navy.jpgJohn W. Warner4 May 19728 April 1974704Melvin R. Laird
Elliot Richardson
James R. Schlesinger
62JohnWilliamMiddendorf.jpgJ. William Middendorf8 April 197420 January 19771018James R. Schlesinger
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Richard M. Nixon
Gerald Ford
63W. Graham Claytor 1984.jpgW. Graham Claytor, Jr.14 February 197724 August 1979921Harold BrownJimmy Carter
64Edward Hidalgo, head and shoulders, facing front.jpgEdward Hidalgo24 October 197920 January 1981454
65John Lehman, official photo as Secretary of the Navy, 1982.JPEGJohn Lehman5 February 198110 April 19872255Caspar W. WeinbergerRonald Reagan
66James Webb, Assistant Secretary of Defense, official photo.JPEGJim Webb1 May 198723 February 1988298Caspar W. Weinberger
Frank C. Carlucci
67William L Ball.jpgWilliam L. Ball28 March 198815 May 1989413Frank C. Carlucci
Richard B. Cheney
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
68Henry Lawrence Garrett III, official Navy photo, 1987.jpgHenry L. Garrett III15 May 198926 June 19921138Richard B. CheneyGeorge H. W. Bush
(acting)Daniel Howard26 June 19927 July 199211
69Sean O'Keefe, official Navy photo, 1992.jpgSean O'Keefe7 July 19922 October 199287
2 October 199220 January 1993110
(acting)Admiral Frank Kelso, official military photo.JPEGAdmiral Frank B. Kelso II20 January 199321 July 1993182Les AspinBill Clinton
70DaltonJohn.jpgJohn H. Dalton22 July 199316 November 19981943Les Aspin
William J. Perry
William S. Cohen
71Richard Danzig, official Navy photo.jpgRichard Danzig16 November 199820 January 2001796William S. Cohen
(acting)Robert Pirie, official photo portrait, circa 2001.jpgRobert B. Pirie, Jr.20 January 200124 May 2001124Donald H. RumsfeldGeorge W. Bush
72Gordon England portrait.jpgGordon R. England24 May 200130 January 2003616
(acting)US Navy 030202-N-0000X-001 Under Secretary of the Navy.jpgSusan Livingstone30 January 20037 February 20038
(acting)US Navy 030402-N-0000X-001 Secretary of the Navy Hansford T. Johnson (Acting).jpgHansford T. Johnson7 February 200330 September 2003235
73Gordon England portrait.jpgGordon R. England1 October 200329 December 2005[11]820
(acting)AvilesDionel.jpgDionel M. Aviles29 December 2005[11]3 January 2006[11]5
74Donald Winter, official photo as Secretary of the Navy, 2006.jpgDonald C. Winter3 January 2006[11]13 March 2009[12]1165Donald H. Rumsfeld
Robert M. Gates
George W. Bush
Barack Obama
(acting)PennBJ.jpgB. J. Penn13 March 2009[12]19 May 2009[13]67Robert M. GatesBarack Obama
75SECNAV-Mabus-OfficialPhoto2-2014.jpgRay Mabus19 May 2009[12]20 January 20172803Robert M. Gates
Leon Panetta
Chuck Hagel
Ash Carter
(acting)Sean J. Stackley.jpgSean Stackley20 January 20173 August 2017195Jim MattisDonald Trump
76Richard V. Spencer.jpgRichard V. Spencer3 August 2017Incumbent287

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Guide to Federal Records – General Records of the Department of the Navy, 1798–1947". Retrieved September 23, 2007. 
  2. ^ "The US Navy". Retrieved September 23, 2007. 
  3. ^ "US CODE: Title 10,5013. Secretary of the Navy". Retrieved September 23, 2007. 
  4. ^ "U.S. Navy Biographies – The Honorable Donald C. Winter". Retrieved September 23, 2007. 
  5. ^ "US CODE: Title 10,5013a. Secretary of the Navy: powers with respect to Coast Guard". Retrieved September 23, 2007. 
  6. ^ "US CODE: Title 10,5014. Office of the Secretary of the Navy". Retrieved September 23, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Department of the Navy, Office of the General Counsel (DON-OGC) – OGC History". Archived from the original on July 24, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2007. 
  8. ^ Cahoon, Ben (2000). "United States Government". World Statesmen. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  9. ^ Joseph Hewes. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval Historical and Heritage Command.
  10. ^ Benson J. Lossing. Household History for All Readers. 1877. Republished in Our Country vol. 2
  11. ^ a b c d Staff reporter (2005-12-29). "Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Relinquishes Top Navy Post". American Forces Press Service. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 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. 
  12. ^ a b c "Navy Secretary Departs Office" (Press release). United States Department of Defense. 2009-03-13. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 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. 
  13. ^ Staff reporter (2005-05-19). "Mabus Sworn in as New Navy Secretary". NNS. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 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)

External links[edit]