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Chief of Naval Operations

Chief Naval Operations
Flag of the Chief of Naval Operations
Seal of the Chief of Naval Operations
Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert

since September 23, 2011
Department of the Navy
Member of Joint Chiefs of Staff
Reports to Secretary of Defense
Secretary of the Navy
Appointer The President
Term length 4 years
Constituting instrument 10 U.S.C. § 5033
Formation May 11, 1915
First holder ADM William S. Benson
Deputy Vice Chief of Naval Operations
Website Official Website

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is a statutory office (10 U.S.C. § 5033) held by a four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and is the most senior naval officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. The office is a military adviser and deputy to the Secretary of the Navy. In a separate capacity as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (10 U.S.C. § 151) the CNO is a military adviser to the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, the Secretary of Defense, and the President. The current Chief of Naval Operations is Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert.

The Chief of Naval Operations is an administrative position based in the Pentagon, and while the CNO does not have operational command authority over Naval forces as the title implies (that is nowadays within the purview of the Combatant Commanders who report to the Secretary of Defense), the CNO does exercise supervision of Navy organizations as the designee of the Secretary of the Navy.


  • Responsibilities 1
    • Department of the Navy 1.1
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations 2
  • Appointment 3
  • Official Residence 4
  • List of Chiefs of Naval Operations (1915 – present) 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • External links 8


Department of the Navy

The CNO reports directly to the Secretary of the Navy for the command, utilization of resources, and operating efficiency of the operating forces of the Navy and of the Navy shore activities assigned by the Secretary.[1] Under the authority of the Secretary of the Navy, the CNO also designates naval personnel and naval resources to the commanders of Unified Combatant Commands.[2][3] The CNO also performs all other functions prescribed under 10 U.S.C. § 5033 and those assigned by the secretary[2] or delegates those duties and responsibilities to other officers in his administration. The CNO is typically the highest-ranking officer on active duty in the Navy unless the Chairman and/or the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are naval officers. Like the other joint chiefs, the CNO is an administrative position and has no operational command authority over United States naval forces.[1]

Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

The Chief of Naval Operations presides over the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OpNav),[4] which is one of three headquarters staffs in Department of the Navy (the others being the Office of the Secretary of the Navy and Headquarters Marine Corps.)

Policy documents are issued in the form of OPNAV Instructions.


The Chief of Naval Operations is nominated by the President for appointment and must be confirmed by the Senate.[5] A requirement for being Chief of Naval Operations is having significant experience in joint duty assignments, which includes at least one full tour of duty in a joint duty assignment as a flag officer.[5] However, the president may waive those requirements if he determines that appointing the officer is necessary for the national interest.[5] By statute, the CNO is appointed as a four-star admiral.[5]

Official Residence

Number One Observatory Circle, located on the northeast grounds of the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, was built in 1893 for its superintendent. The Chief of Naval Operations liked the house so much that in 1923 he took over the house as his own official residence. It remained the residence of the CNO until 1974, when Congress authorized its transformation to an official residence for the Vice President.[6] The Chief of Naval Operations currently resides in Quarters A in the Washington Naval Yard.

List of Chiefs of Naval Operations (1915 – present)

The position of CNO replaced the position of Aide for Naval Operations, which was a position established by regulation rather than statutory law.

Mullen (CNO in December 2006) with some of his predecessors: Clark, Watkins, Hayward and Johnson
No. Image Name Tenure
Began Ended Days of Service
1 ADM William S. Benson 11 May 1915 25 September 1919 1598
2 ADM Robert E. Coontz 1 November 1919 21 July 1923 1358
3 ADM Edward W. Eberle 21 July 1923 14 November 1927 1577
4 ADM Charles F. Hughes 14 November 1927 17 September 1930 1099
5 ADM William V. Pratt 17 September 1930 30 June 1933 1017
6 ADM William H. Standley 1 July 1933 1 January 1937 1280
7 FADM William D. Leahy 2 January 1937 1 August 1939 941
8 ADM Harold R. Stark 1 August 1939 2 March 1942 944
9 FADM Ernest J. King 2 March 1942 15 December 1945 1384
10 FADM Chester W. Nimitz 15 December 1945 15 December 1947 730
11 ADM Louis E. Denfeld 15 December 1947 2 November 1949 688
12 ADM Forrest P. Sherman 2 November 1949 22 July 1951 627
13 ADM William M. Fechteler 16 August 1951 17 August 1953 732
14 ADM Robert B. Carney 17 August 1953 17 August 1955 730
15 ADM Arleigh A. Burke 17 August 1955 1 August 1961 2176
16 ADM George W. Anderson Jr. 1 August 1961 1 August 1963
17 ADM David L. McDonald 1 August 1963 1 August 1967 1461
18 ADM Thomas H. Moorer 1 August 1967 1 July 1970 1065
19 ADM Elmo R. Zumwalt 1 July 1970 29 June 1974 1459
20 ADM James L. Holloway III 29 June 1974 1 July 1978 1463
21 ADM Thomas B. Hayward 1 July 1978 30 June 1982 1460
22 ADM James D. Watkins 30 June 1982 30 June 1986 1461
23 ADM Carlisle A.H. Trost 1 July 1986 29 June 1990 1459
24 ADM Frank B. Kelso II 29 June 1990 23 April 1994 1394
25 ADM Jeremy M. Boorda 23 April 1994 16 May 1996 754
26 ADM Jay L. Johnson 16 May 1996 21 July 2000 1527
27 ADM Vern Clark 21 July 2000 22 July 2005 1827
28 ADM Michael Mullen 22 July 2005 29 September 2007 860
29 ADM Gary Roughead 29 September 2007 23 September 2011 1394
30 ADM Jonathan W. Greenert 23 September 2011 Present 1216

See also


  1. ^ a b "The US Navy". Retrieved 24 September 2007. 
  2. ^ a b [1] 10 USC 5013(f). Secretary of the Navy
  3. ^ [2] 10 USC 165. Combatant commands: administration and support
  4. ^ Chief of Naval Operations − Responsibilities. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d "10 USC 5033. Chief of Naval Operations". Retrieved 24 September 2007. 
  6. ^ "The Vice President's Residence". 

External links

  • Chief of Naval Operations page
  • Office of the Chief of Naval Operations organization
  • "Chief of Naval Operations". Lists of Commanding Officers and Senior Officials of the US Navy. Naval Historical Center. Retrieved 6 November 2007. 
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