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Good morning, everyone! It is an absolute honor to be with you today at the Naval Reactors headquarters here at the Washington Navy Yard.
I feel that today, of all days, it is appropriate for me to begin my remarks with a quote from the father of naval nuclear power, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover:
“When doing a job, any job, one must feel that he owns it, and act as though he will remain in that job forever.”
Ladies and gentlemen, for only the seventh time in our Navy’s history, we are gathered to witness the transfer of command of Naval Reactors and the responsibilities of the Department of Energy’s N-N-S-A Deputy Administrator for Naval Reactors—a billet that requires its incumbent to lead our Naval Nuclear Power Program for eight years without relief.
Secretary Granholm, Administrator Hruby, thank you both for joining us this morning. We greatly value our strong and storied relationship with the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration, and we appreciate your support and commitment to the safe use of nuclear power by our surface and submarine fleets.
Representative Courtney, Admiral Franchetti, Admiral Kilby, distinguished guests, members of the United States Naval Academy’s Great Class of 1981, friends and families of Admiral Caldwell and Admiral Houston—welcome, and thank you for your support of these two dedicated, devoted Naval Officers.
Admiral Caldwell and Admiral Houston are part of a small, storied club of leaders in our Navy, dating back 75 years to the first Director of Naval Reactors, Admiral Rickover, and we are grateful for the presence of Admiral Bowman at today’s ceremony.
But as we know, it takes more than just one person to realize success, in this case with success being defined as “hot rocks making steam,” safely, and efficiently.
Since Commander Wilkinson announced to the world in 1955 that USS Nautilus (SSN-571) was “underway on Nuclear Power,” the team here at Naval Reactors has ensured our nation’s nuclear fleet has remained underway around the globe, both on and under the ocean’s surface.
As we look back over the past eight years, the work of the Naval Reactors team in support of our Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program has been absolutely incredible, especially in engagements with our international partners and allies.
By maintaining their impeccable safety record, our nuclear fleet continues to enjoy access to ports in over 50 countries around the globe, allowing our aircraft carriers and submarines to make port calls and re-supply during deployments.
Their efforts continue to enable a key naval relationship with Japan, allowing us to homeport a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier overseas, which is vital to ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region for ourselves, our partners, and our allies.
Naval Reactors is also supporting our British allies in the design, build, and test of the propulsion plant for their next generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, the Dreadnought-class SSBN, modernizing their undersea nuclear deterrent at the same time as we pursue our own modernization effort with the Columbia-class SSBN.
Along with the United Kingdom, we are now partnering with Australia as part of the AUKUS security agreement—a generational commitment by all three of our nations designed to promote our collective security.
Under AUKUS, we are sharing our nuclear propulsion technology for only the second time in our history and represents the largest international nuclear propulsion technology sharing agreement in 65 years.
Naval Reactors has and will continue to play a pivotal role in developing our Australian allies’ technical capabilities, ensuring they are able to safely and effectively operate their own nuclear-powered submarine fleet.
Each of these efforts are monumental, and the team at Naval Reactors—the engineers, scientists, researchers, technical advisors, and support personnel—are the key to realizing the outcomes we desire.
While the Director of NR is the face of the organization, none of its successes would be possible without the thousands of Americans from all walks of life who dedicate themselves day-in and day-out to the cause of naval nuclear power.
In recognition of your many accomplishments over the last eight years, I am pleased to announce that we will be awarding this extraordinary group of professionals the Navy Unit Commendation.
To the team here at Naval Reactors, thank you. Thank you for everything you do in support of our Sailors, their families, and indeed our nation to ensure our security and prosperity.
Before I turn the podium back over to Admiral Caldwell, I would like to take a few moments to recognize the most important guests with us here this morning—the families of Admiral Caldwell and Admiral Houston.
To the Houston family—Colleen, Lauren, and Emily—allow me to be among the first to welcome you again to the Naval Reactors team. For decades, you have stood by your husband and your father, during deployments, periods of separation, and long days in the office while on shore duty.
Your patience, grace, and love for Admiral Houston are evident, and we cannot thank you enough for your steadfast support as he continues to serve our Nation as the new Director of Naval Reactors
John and Norma, Paul, and Andy—thank you for your presence here today to witness this special moment your brother and brother-in-law’s career.
Mrs. Cynthia Houston—Mumsie—I have no doubt you are proud of your son. As he reaches the pinnacle of his career, we recognize that we would not be here without your love for and guidance of Admiral Houston during his formative years.
Serving in our Navy is indeed a family affair, and you have all made tremendous sacrifices in support of Admiral Houston over the past 33 years.
To the several members and friends of the Caldwell family, thank you for joining us this morning.
We are fortunate to have Admiral Caldwell’s siblings with us today in support of the their brother: Mrs. Jeanne Furey, her husband John, and their sons Aidan and Donovan; Mr. Andy Caldwell—who I will point out is a fellow member of USNA’s Best Class of 1983, and decided to join the Marine Corps instead of the Navy like his father and brothers—and his wife Josie; and, Commander David Caldwell.
To Admiral Caldwell’s mother, Mrs. Peggy Caldwell, you and your husband ensured that he knew exactly what he was getting into when he decided to attend the United States Naval Academy and join the submarine force.
Thank you for raising such an incredible son, and for giving him up to our Nation and the Navy that you devoted your life to supporting during your husband’s 30-year career on submarines.
Finally, I would like to recognize Admiral Caldwell’s wife, Mrs. Kimberly Caldwell. For those in the audience who may not know, Admiral and Mrs. Caldwell have known each other since they were two years old.
In the almost 43 years since you married shortly after Admiral Caldwell’s graduation from the Naval Academy in 1981, you have been by his side.
Your steadfast devotion and love for your husband, as well as your dedication to the Navy, the submarine force, and the Naval Reactors team, is evident in everything that you do.
To recognize your many years of service to our Sailors and their families, I am honored to present you with the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award as part of today’s ceremony.
Make no mistake, Admiral Caldwell’s four decades of service would not have been possible without you, and I regret that I cannot repay you with one final tour in Hawaii.
To the Caldwell family and their friends gathered here today and around the world, you have my thanks for sharing your son, your brother, your husband, your uncle, and your friend with our Nation.
Now, since I opened with an Admiral Rickover quote, I will close with another: “The great end of life is not knowledge, but action…I believe it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him [or her].”
Admiral Caldwell, for over forty years, you have been a man of action. Our Nation, our partners and allies, and indeed the world, are better—safer—because of your service.
The future of Naval Reactors is bright because of your leadership, and we wish you fair winds and following seas in your next chapter.
Again, it is an honor to be with you all this morning. May God continue to bless the Caldwell family, our Sailors, Marines and their families stationed around the globe.
Carlos Del Toro
10 January 2024
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