Rear Adm Kearney grew up in Dover, N.J., and enlisted in the Navy in 1978. He was commissioned via the Villanova University Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Additionally, he holds a master’s degree in Political Science (International Relations) from Villanova University and is certified as a Level III Program Manager from the Defense Acquisition University.
Prior to command, his sea tours included assignments as a division officer and Navigation department head aboard USS New York City (SSN 696); engineer officer aboard USS Henry L. Stimsom (SSBN 655 Gold), and executive officer aboard USS Helena (SSN 725), where he conducted deployments and patrols to both the North Atlantic and Western Pacific.
Ashore, he served as an NROTC Instructor at Villanova University; executive officer/engineer officer of the Moored Training Ship (MTS 635); squadron engineer (Submarine Squadron 7); and, as first commanding officer of pre-commissioning unit USS Virginia (SSN 774).
Kearney commanded USS Alexandria (SSN 757) from June 2003 to December 2005. During this period, his ship was awarded the Battle "E" for operational excellence; was runner up for the prestigious Battenberg Cup Award for top ship in the Atlantic Fleet; and received the Navy Unit Commendation for operations conducted during the first around the world deployment via the Arctic conducted by a U.S. submarine.
Following command, Kearney entered the Acquisition Professional Community in 2006 and served as the deputy director of the Navy’s Test and Evaluation Policy Office (OPNAV N912). He then served as the foreign military sales program manager in the Undersea Weapons Program Office (PMS 404), and as deputy program manager in the Submarine Acoustic Systems Program Office (PMS 401).
Kearney served as the program manager for Undersea Weapons and Targets from October 2009 to October 2012. During this period his program was awarded a Secretary of the Navy Excellence in Acquisition Award, and he was the recipient of the 2011 Naval Submarine League’s Vice Admiral J. Guy Reynolds Award for Excellence in Submarine Acquisition. He relieved as vice commander, Naval Sea Systems Command in June 2013.
His awards include the Legion of Merit (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (five awards) and various campaign and unit awards.