When Vice. Adm. Nora Tyson retired from active duty on Saturday and turned over command of U.S. 3rd Fleet, she left behind a 38-year career highlighted by significant firsts.
In July 2010, Tyson took control of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, making her the first woman named to command a strike group. During the strike group’s maiden deployment, Tyson led 13 ships, 80 combatant aircraft, and roughly 9,000 personnel in combat operations supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.
Two years later, when Tyson took command of 3rd Fleet in July 2015, she became the first woman to command an operational numbered fleet. When Tyson was commissioned 38 years ago, women were not allowed to serve on combatant ships and had only just been given the chance for sea duty aboard support and auxiliary ships.
During the ceremony, Tyson acknowledged the barriers she’s broken, according to her remarks in a Navy news release. She said that, while she was proud to have been the first woman to command a carrier strike group and command an operational numbered fleet, she was most proud of being a part of a Navy that had moved past those milestones.
Vice Adm. John Alexander relieved Tyson as commander of 3rd Fleet during a change of command and retirement ceremony held Friday aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.
Alexander has served as commander of Battle Force 7th Fleet (CTF-70/CSG-5), forward-deployed aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in Yokosuka, Japan; assistant commander for Career Management at Navy Personnel Command; commanding officer of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135; commanding officer of USS Juneau (LPD-10), forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan; and commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).
Under Tyson’s command, 3rd Fleet’s role expanded in the Pacific under a U.S. Pacific Fleet initiative named 3rd Fleet Forward. Tyson, as 3rd Fleet’s commander, was directed by Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, to maintain operational control of units throughout select deployments instead of transferring control to U.S. 7th Fleet once units cross the international date line.
The idea behind this concept was to grant the Pacific Fleet commander greater flexibility and options responding to events in 7th Fleet’s area of operation. Earlier this year, speaking at the WEST 2017 conference in San Diego, Tyson explained that the organizational concept allows 7th Fleet to respond to one military threat while maintaining other naval assets in the region ready to focus on another situation, such as a disaster relief effort.
U.S. 3rd Fleet was formed during World War II on March 15, 1943, under the command of Fleet Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey.