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Release No: 644-12
August 01, 2012

Navy to Host Memorial Service for Former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral James D. Watkins

            A memorial service for the 22nd Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Adm. James D. Watkins, will be on Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, at 11 a.m. EDT at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Church in Washington, D.C. 

            Watkins passed away on July 26 at the age of 85, and is survived by his wife Janet and six children. 

            Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and current Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, will both participate in the service. 

            "Adm. Watkins served the nation leading Sailors during some of our nation's most trying and challenging times from 1949 to 1986," said Greenert.  "His strategic approach to safeguarding our national security and interests at sea set a precedent for generations to come.  Adm. Watkins was an innovative thinker who pushed our Navy forward.  He was known for developing a Maritime Strategy for dealing with the U.S.S.R. and improving the quality of life for Sailors and their families.  We will always remember the life and honorable service of a great shipmate." 

            A 1949 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Watkins became CNO June 30, 1982 and served until June 30, 1986 during the height of the Cold War.  A career submariner, he also commanded the Navy’s Sixth Fleet in Naples, Italy, and later the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor.  He also served as Chief of Naval Personnel and Vice Chief of Naval Operations. 

            "Few have lived as full or accomplished a life as Adm. Watkins," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.  "Although we mourn his passing, we celebrate his accomplishments not only as a consummate naval officer and public servant, but also as a man who understood the importance of taking care of the entire Navy family." 

            As CNO, Watkins led a Navy that operated in support of national objectives in Grenada, Lebanon, and the Persian Gulf.  Appreciating that changes that were occurring in the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, he initiated a review of American naval strategy.  He precipitated a renaissance in naval operational thought that encouraged a new generation of officers to become more deeply involved. 

            After retiring from the Navy, he led a very active life.  In 1987, he chaired President Reagan's Commission on the HIV epidemic.  Known as "The Watkins Commission," it investigated the AIDS epidemic and eventually recommended support for increased AIDS research, laws protecting HIV-positive people, and treatment of drug addiction. 

            On March 9, 1989, Watkins was sworn in as Secretary of Energy by President George Bush.  As energy secretary, he developed a 10-point plan to strengthen environmental protection and waste management activities, established the Office of Environmental Restoration and Waste Management, and recognizing America’s dependence on foreign oil, instituted policy designed to increase oil production and decrease consumption to counter Iraqi-Kuwaiti oil losses caused by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.  He remained in his position as energy secretary until 1993. 

            The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy became the second presidential commission chaired by Watkins.  Established by The Oceans Act of 2000 on Jan. 20, 2001, the commission was charged with developing a comprehensive national ocean policy including governance, research, education, marine operations, stewardship, and investment.  It conducted hearings and research before producing its final report, "An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century" on Sept. 20, 2004. 

            Media interested in attending the funeral mass should contact Jacquelyn Hayes, Director of Communications for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, at 202-281-0615.  The Basilica is located at 400 Michigan Ave., Northeast, Washington, D.C., and is easily accessible by car and by Metro on the red line at Brookland/CUA. 

            Additional news media queries may be addressed by calling the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342.

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