Vice Admiral Bill Merz is a native of San Diego, California. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering, and subsequently earned master’s degrees from the Catholic University of America and the Naval War College. He also completed the MIT Seminar XXI program.
Merz assumed command of U.S. 7th Fleet in September 2019, and is embarked aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. His previous flag officer commands were Naval Mine & Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC) and Task Force 77 in San Diego, Task Force 54 in Bahrain, Submarine Group Seven and Task Force 74 in Japan.
Ashore flag officer assignments have been Director, Undersea Warfare Division (OPNAV N97) and Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems (DCNO OPNAV N9). Other shore assignments included submarine design research at Carderock, head of the Naval Reactors Line Locker, Chief of Staff for the Submarine Force Commander, and financial management tours on the Navy Staff (N80 Bullpen) and Joint Staff (J8 PBAD).
A career submarine officer, Merz served aboard USS Haddo (SSN 604) in San Diego, USS Proteus (AS 19) in Guam, where he also qualified Surface Warfare Officer, and USS Boise (SSN 764) in Norfolk. He commanded the nuclear deep-sea vessel (DSV) “NR-1”, the attack submarine USS Memphis (SSN 691), and Submarine Development Squadron 12. Over the course of ten overseas deployments, the crews he served with collectively earned six unit awards, five Battle “E”s, and the Atlantic Fleet’s Battenberg Cup.