WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) said during his assumption ceremony June 18 that his first commitment as secretary will be to service members and families.
"The law requires me to ensure that the Department of the Navy is properly manned, trained and equipped, fully prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century," said SECNAV Raymond Mabus Jr. "I deeply believe that this involves not just what our Sailors and Marines do for us but what we do for them and for their families."
Mabus made the remarks following the administering of the oath of office by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at Admiral Leutze Park on the Washington Navy Yard (WNY). Earlier in the day, Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath at the White House.
Senior government and military leaders and roughly 500 guests attended the ceremony at the WNY. In addition, 27 ambassadors attended the event.
"We face great challenges, and we have great friends and allies," Mabus said. "To representatives of the international community here today, welcome. I look forward to the opportunity to strengthen ties that are already strong, and I know our collaboration will advance the interests of peace and a more just and stable world."
Mabus, the former governor of Mississippi, was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the civilian leader for the U.S. Navy March 27. Following his confirmation by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mabus was sworn in as secretary of the Navy during a private ceremony May 19 so he "could be piped aboard immediately."
As SECNAV, Mabus oversees a budget of $150 billion and almost 900,000 people and performs a range of duties, to include recruiting, equipping and mobilizing to overseeing the construction and repair of equipment, facilities and ships. Mabus will also formulate Navy policy and programs.
During his speech to the assembled guests, Sailors and Marines Mabus spoke of the Navy's "noble and storied legacy," relating episodes in the Navy's history from the capture of the HMS Margaretta in 1775 to the "bravery and skill of the Navy and Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan today."
"There is a long, unbreakable line of heroism that stretches from there, back to the beginning," Mabus said. "The heroes of our country are the heroes of our own families. They come from us; they defend us; wearing the uniform from 1775 until today, they are the shining fabric of America."
Mabus identified shipbuilding, aircraft production and meeting the needs of the Navy and Marines in an age of non-expanding budgets as some of the challenges he faces.
Mabus previously served in the U.S. Navy from 1970-1972 as a surface warfare officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock. Prior to his active-duty service, he had been a member of the Naval ROTC as an undergraduate at the University of Mississippi.
"I am proud of that first tour of duty on a cruiser and proud beyond words to finally come home to the Department of the Navy," Mabus said. "Early on, I saw the sacrifices that our service members make every day to defend and secure our country."
Mabus graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor's in English and earned a master's degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
The secretary served as governor of Mississippi from 1988 to 1992 and as ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for two years during former President Bill Clinton's administration.
"Conscious of this service's long and glorious tradition, with confidence in its men, its women and its mission, I am privileged to assume the office of secretary of the Navy," Mabus said.
For more news from Naval District Washington, visit www.navy.mil/local/ndw/.