Fleet Master Chief Russell Smith was named the 15th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), a position he’s held temporarily since June when former Master Chief Steven Giordano abruptly resigned.
Smith was serving as the senior enlisted leader for Manpower, Personnel, Training, and Education in the office of the Chief of Naval Personnel when he was asked to also fill in as the Navy’s senior enlisted sailor on a temporary basis. As the MCPON, the chief of naval operations and chief of naval personnel look to Smith for advice in all matters dealing with enlisted personnel and their families.
“After a thorough and deliberate review process, I am confident that Fleet Master Chief Smith is the right leader to be our Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to advocate for our sailors and their families selflessly serving around the world.”
Richardson made the announcement Wednesday morning through a Facebook video message, posted while doing physical training with the Chiefs Mess and chief-selects at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C.
“Even though I had a couple of minutes heads up, I’m still a little bit speechless. But frankly, I can’t imagine how tough the choice was because of the quality of the master chiefs that we have in our Navy,” Smith said in the video. “I’m just excited to take this advocacy for sailors and for all of us to the next level.”
Richardson, standing next to Smith in the video, added, “MCPON, you embody professionalism, expertise and humility in leadership, and I know you’re going to make that spread that throughout the whole mess.”
Smith became the temporary MCPON after Giordano resigned in June amidst a Navy inspector general investigation into alleged workplace misconduct, according to the Navy. The investigation started following a May 26 complaint that Giordano had created a toxic workplace environment.
Smith enlisted in the Navy 30 years ago and has served in a variety of jobs in both the surface and special warfare communities. In previous assignments, Smith worked for the Defense Attaché in Moscow and served as the Command Master Chief on the CNO’s staff, at the Office of Naval Intelligence and at the U.S. Naval Academy. He was the first Naval Academy command master chief to be selected for a fleet master chief position, according to the Navy.