Vice Adm. Kitchener Takes Command of Naval Surface Forces as Vice Adm. Brown Retires
Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener has taken command of Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet during a small ceremony in San Diego, Calif., the Navy announced on Monday.
Kitchener, formerly the commander of Naval Surface Force Atlantic, relieved Vice Adm. Richard Brown, who is retiring from the service after 35 years.
“I am thankful for Vice Adm. Brown’s leadership the past two and a half years. His focus on good stewardship, professional development and safety were the catalyst for rebuilding a better and smarter force of combat-ready ships and battle minded crews,” Kitchener said in a statement.
While SWO Boss, Brown was responsible for implementing many of the changes in training surface warfare officers that were set in motion after the fatal 2017 collisions in the Western Pacific that killed 17 sailors.
The Navy created the Readiness Reform and Oversight Council, initially led by Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran, to oversee improvements to surface readiness training. It provided service leaders with 111 recommendations, 47 of which were specific to surface warfare and have been implemented, Brown said in January.
“I have been advocating that the RROC remain in place for years to come – it is a focusing and barrier-removal organization second to none,” Brown said during the Surface Navy Association symposium in 2020.
“Where there was a lot of angst about the RROC and providing oversight and they’re going to get into our stuff, the surface community actually embraced it and said, more of it.”
Changes included a retooled surface warfare officer career path that emphasized mariner fundamentals, mandating SWOs record their watches and training in a “Surface Warfare Mariner Skills Logbook,” and the stand-up of two new training centers on each coast. Brown also oversaw the establishment of the San Diego-based Surface Development Squadron (SURFDEVRON) 1 to test new surface warfare concepts and work with unmanned surface vessels as they are integrated into the fleet.
“Today, I can proudly say that we only deploy ships that have the required manning, are fully certified, and materially ready. That isn’t possible without the hard work and dedication of the SURFPAC staff and the great crews of our ships,” Brown said in a statement today.
Kitchener, originally from Connecticut, graduated from Unity College in 1984 and commissioned via Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. He attended the Naval Post Graduate School, where he specialized in Western Hemisphere studies and earned a Master of Arts degree in National Security Affairs.
A career surface warfare officer, he commanded USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), USS Higgins (DDG-76) and USS USS Princeton (CG-59), as well as Expeditionary Strike Group 2 prior to taking command of SURFLANT.