US Navy bids farewell to longest serving secretary

SECNAV Ray Mabus speaks with Marines and Sailors during his visit to the USS Makin Island (LHD 8), moored at Changi Naval Base, Singapore, Nov. 22, 2016. Photo: US Navy

The U.S. Navy bid farewell to Ray Mabus, the navy’s longest serving secretary since World War I, in a ceremony in Washington on January 6.

During his eight-year tenure, Mabus led the navy through a period of often controversial changes with social and energy reforms at the forefront.

Seeking to minimize the U.S. Navy’s dependency on fossil fuels, Mabus championed an alternative solution throughout his tenure. In January 2016, the Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group deployed sing alternative fuel sources.

The alternative fuel was made from 10 percent beef tallow provided from farmers in the Midwest and 90 percent marine diesel.

The navy claimed the fuel was cost-competitive, but subsequent reports indicated that was not the case as even a 90:10 ratio, instead of the envisioned 50:50, cost more than regular fuel.

Mabus will also be remembered for his support for women and homosexual persons in service. During his time in office, women got the right to serve in all combat roles while homosexuals were allowed to serve openly.

A not so popular measure during the secretary’s tenure was the reform of sailors ratings. A September 2016 decision which said that sailors would no longer be addressed by their rating but by generic titles was withdrawn by the chief of naval operations John Richardson in December 2016.

Mabus’ navy bio says that during his tenure, the navy went from building fewer than five ships per year to having 86 ships under contract, an average of 14 ships per year.

The navy says that Mabus’ shipbuilding efforts reversed the decline of the navy’s fleet and will increase it to more than 300 ships by the end of the decade despite fiscal constraints.

Before his appointment by President Obama, Mabus held a variety of leadership positions. From 1988 to 1992, Mabus served as Governor of Mississippi, the youngest elected to that office in more than 150 years. Mabus was Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1994-1996 and later was Chairman and CEO of a manufacturing company which he led out of bankruptcy.

As PEOTUS Donald Trump prepares to take office there is still no official nomination for a new navy secretary.

 

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