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Name: Greenert, Jonathan
Current Position: Former Chief

The nation’s top Navy officer is a bubblehead and proud of it. In Navy slang, a bubblehead is a sailor who has served his career mainly in the submarine fleet, and that is surely true of Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, who became the 30th Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) on September 23, 2011, succeeding Admiral Gary Roughead. The CNO is the most senior uniformed officer in the Department of the Navy (unless the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is a Navy officer) and functions as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as a military adviser to the Secretary of the Navy, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, the Secretary of Defense, and the President.


Born May 15, 1953, Greenert was the third of six children born to a steelworker in the Pittsburgh suburb of Butler, Pennsylvania, where he worked two paper routes as a youth. Greenert graduated from Butler High School in 1971, where he was on the swim team and student council, and was a member of the National Honor Society, the archery club, the Latin club and the maitre d’ club, which, a high school friend of Greenert’s explained, was “a club for guys to make a little money” by waiting tables.


Accepted for admission by the University of Pennsylvania, the Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Greenert followed the example of an uncle he had often visited at Annapolis, earning a B.S. in Ocean Engineering at the Naval Academy in 1975 and completing studies in nuclear power for service as a submarine officer. Apparently not entirely serious in nature, Greenert’s biography in the 1975 Academy yearbook describes him as an “always colorful and almost religiously non-academic” midshipman known for “colorful weekends,” and concludes that “with his personality, good looks, receding hairline and quick wit, he is bound to be a success.”


Commissioned as an ensign upon graduation, Greenert’s early career as a submariner included assignments as electrical material officer aboard the USS Flying Fish, as electrical/operations officer aboard the USS Tautog, as engineer officer aboard Submarine NR-1 (a unique nuclear-powered ocean engineering and research submarine), and as executive officer of the USS Michigan.


Greenert’s first command came in March 1991, when he took charge of the USS Honolulu until July 1993. Subsequent commands included service as commander of Submarine Squadron 11 at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, California; chief of staff for the commander of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, in Yokosuka, Japan, from July 1997 to September 1998; and commander, U.S. Pacific Command, representative to Micronesia/commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, from October 1998 through December 1999.


After a stateside stint as director of the Operations Division in the Navy Comptroller Office from January 2000 through August 2002, Greenert served as deputy and chief of staff of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Honolulu, Hawai’i, from August 2002 until July 2004, and as commander of the Seventh Fleet, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, from August 6, 2004 to September 2006.


Back at the Pentagon, Greenert served as deputy chief of Naval Operations for Integration of Capabilities and Resources, from September 2006 to September 2007 and as commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command from September 29, 2007 to July 29, 2009. From August 13, 2009 to September 22, 2011, Greenert was vice chief of Naval Operations.


Greenert and his wife, Darleen, have three grown children.

-Matt Bewig


Official Biography

New Chief of Naval Operations a Steelers fan and a “Regular Guy” (by Diana Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Greenert Something of a Surprise as Next Chief of Naval Operations (by Robert F. Dorr, Defense Media Network)

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