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Vice. Adm. James Malloy Confirmed to Lead 5th Fleet Following Death of Former Commander

Then-Rear Adm. Jim Malloy, commander of Carrier Strike Group 10 in 2016. US Navy Photo

This post has been updated to include Vice Adm. Malloy’s confirmation by the Senate.

The Senate has confirmed an admiral with extensive Middle East experience to lead the U.S. Navy’s forces in U.S. Central Command after being nominated on the same day.

Vice Adm. James Malloy, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy (N3/N5), was nominated to lead U.S. 5th Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command on Thursday and confirmed by a voice vote in the Senate about an hour after the announcement. The rapid confirmation follows the sudden death of former commander Vice Adm. Scott Stearney on Dec. 1.

Malloy arrived at 5th Fleet’s Bahrain headquarters earlier this week and was awaiting formal permissions to take command of 5th Fleet from deputy commander and acting commander Rear Adm. Paul Schlise, USNI News reported.

Malloy has a background in the Middle East as the deputy director of operations for U.S. Central Command (J3); commander of Carrier Strike Group 10, deploying with USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) in 2016 to CENTCOM in support of Operation Inherent Resolve; and, most recently, vice director for operations on the Joint Staff (J3). He is a 1986 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and has served in his current Pentagon job since August.

Vice Adm. Scott A. Stearney. US Marine Corps Photo

Meanwhile, NCIS and Bahraini authorities have not released a cause of death for Stearney. Several defense officials have told USNI News that his death will likely be ruled a suicide.

Stearney’s remains arrived in the U.S. on Dec. 4 at Dover Air Force Base in a dignified transfer ceremony overseen by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, Navy officials confirmed to USNI News.

In addition to family and friends, CENTCOM deputy commander Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson; Vice Adm. William Lescher, deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources (OPNAV N8); Naval Intelligence director Vice Adm. Matthew Kohler; and Navy Chief of Chaplains Rear Adm. Brent Scott also attended the ceremony.

The following is the complete Pentagon nomination statement.

Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis announced today that the president has made the following nomination:

Navy Vice Adm. James J. Malloy for reappointment to the rank of vice admiral, and assignment as commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Central Command; commander, Fifth Fleet; and commander, Combined Maritime Forces, in Bahrain. Malloy is currently serving as deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans, and strategy, N3/N5, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, Washington, District of Columbia.

  • NavySubNuke

    I don’t often have anything good to say about congress so I feel the need to say this: I am glad to see the Senate act so quickly on this and allow VADM Malloy to quickly assume the role of Commander without any sort of “acting” or “pending” requirements over his head. There is enough work for him to do in stabilizing the situation and morale out there without having that hanging over his head!

    • tom dolan

      I completely agree although this was a situation where the Senate couldn’t have done anything else without looking ridiculous. I’m sure we’ll eventually learn the reason for this apparent suicide however I hope the people in charge take some time to both get the facts straight and allow the family and friends to navigate what must be a difficult holiday season. God Bless them all.