Rear Adm. Cathal O’Connor is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in English and was commissioned through the Naval ROTC program. He is a graduate of the Naval War College and the Armed Forces Staff College and earned a Master of Arts in International Relations from Salve Regina University in 1996. He holds subspecialties in National Security Studies, Far East and Pacific Affairs and Operations Research Analysis and Assessment.
A surface warfare officer, he commanded Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3/Task Force 36 in San Diego, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11/Task Group 76.4 in Sasebo, Japan, and USS Rushmore (LSD 47) in San Diego.
His assignments at sea include service on USS Farragut (DDG 37); USS Truett (FF 1095); USS Pharris (FF 1094); USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63); USS Essex (LHD 2); PHIBRON-5; USS Tortuga (LSD 46); Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5/Commander Task Force (CTF) 70 in Yokosuka, Japan; and chief of staff, ESG-7/CTF-76, in Okinawa, Japan.
He has participated in Operations Restore Hope, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Tomodachi as well as disaster relief operations following typhoon Morakot in Taiwan, typhoons Ketsana and Megi in the Philippines and earthquakes in Padang, Indonesia.
Ashore he served at Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center, Atlantic; Surface Warfare Officers School; Joint Task Force Southwest Asia; four tours on the Navy Staff; Joint Staff J-8; and chief of staff for Commander Naval Forces Europe, Commander Naval Forces Africa, U.S. 6th Fleet.
Personal awards include the Legion of Merit, the Defense and Meritorious Service Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal as well as other individual, campaign and unit awards.