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Vice Adm. James Caldwell Nominated To Be Next Naval Reactors Director

Then-Rear Admiral James Caldwell, Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, arrives on board submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) on July 25, 2013. US Navy photo.

Then-Rear Admiral James Caldwell, Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, arrives on board submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) on July 25, 2013. US Navy photo.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter nominated Vice Adm. James Caldwell to be the new director for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, a joint effort between the Navy and Department of Energy, after current Naval Reactors director Adm. John Richardson was nominated to be the next chief of naval operations.

Caldwell has served as the director of Navy staff since May. The 1981 Naval Academy graduate served as naval inspector general prior to his current assignment.

At sea, he has commanded USS Jacksonville (SSN-699), Submarine Development Squadron (DEVRON) 12, Submarine Group 9 and the Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. He was also a division officer on USS Boston (SSN-703), engineering officer on USS Alabama (SSBN-731) and executive officer on USS Buffalo (SSN-715).

Ashore, he served on the Pacific Fleet Nuclear Propulsion Examining Board and later as Undersea Warfare (USW) Requirements officer on the staff of Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Caldwell was also a senior member of the Naval Submarine Force’s Tactical Readiness Evaluation Team.

The Naval Reactors job is an eight-year assignment, meant to provide continuity over some of the most complex engineering work in the Navy. Caldwell, if confirmed for the job, would have a busy eight years as the Ohio Replacement Program ballistic missile submarine ramps up.

  • NavySubNuke

    While pulling Richardson out of NR early isn’t ideal it is good to know they will be in good hands with Caldwell.

  • Curtis Conway

    I would really like to see the development of nuclear power that can be modular, and go on smaller ships like a frigate. The weapons systems of the future are going to require huge amounts of power, and this will provide that power. The propulsion system can migrate to primarily electric with gas turbine as backup. This program would support the next generation of a smaller surface combatant that could begin to displace the DDGs in a couple of decades, and provide the seed capital of technicians and operators for greater use of the reactors ashore across the country. Nuclear power is not black magic and the education system in this country needs to stop treating it as such.

    • James Bowen

      Excellent points. The Navy made a big mistake in turning away from nuclear powered surface combatants in the 1990’s.