ADMIRAL JAMES D.
WATKINS, USN (RETIRED)
Admiral Watkins is a native of
California and a 1949 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Following initial sea
duty on a destroyer he attended Submarine School in 1951 and was assigned to USS
VOLADOR (SS 490) under the command of CDR Dennis Wilkinson. He was
designated qualified in Submarines by his Division Commander, CAPT “Chick”
Clarey and then selected by CDR Gene Fluckey to be Division Engineer. In 1955 he
attended the Naval Postgraduate School and received a Master’s Degree in 1958
upon graduation from the Reactor Engineering Course at Oak Ridge National
Upon completion of graduate school he was assigned as
XO of USS BABERO (SSG 317). In 1960 he was selected for the nuclear power
training program, going directly to the Schenectady, NY prototype, bypassing
nuclear power school. He was then assigned to be XO of the new
construction submarine USS SNOOK (SSN 592) under construction at Pascagoula, LA.
After commissioning and shakedown of SNOOK, Admiral Watkins was selected by
Admiral Rickover to serve as his Assistant for Selection, Education, and
Training of personnel for duty in nuclear powered ships.
for command in 1964, he requested reassignment to USS SNOOK, this time through
the Windsor Locks prototype. While in SNOOK, Admiral Watkins was instrumental in
completing the development of the “Water Boy” intercept package. In 1966 he was
ordered on short notice to report as XO, USS LONG BEACH (CGN 9) via his third
prototype in Idaho Falls, serving until 1969 including three deployments to the
Gulf of Tonkin. Selected for Captain, he reported to BUPERS as the Director of
Submarine Officer and Nuclear Trained Enlisted Personnel Distribution.
Selected for Flag Rank in 1971, Admiral Watkins’ initial
assignment was the first Director of Enlisted Personnel. Subsequent Flag tours
included COMCRUDESGRU ONE, Chief of Naval Personnel where he was instrumental in
setting up the “all volunteer Navy” and “Sea Pay”, COMSIXTHFLT, VCNO, and
CINCPACFLT. President Reagan selected him in June 1982 as the 22nd Chief of
Naval Operations. As CNO, Admiral Watkins authored the first unclassified U. S.
Maritime Strategy in 1986.
Retiring from the Navy in 1986, Admiral
Watkins continued to serve our Nation as Chairman of the Presidential Commission
on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (AIDS) Epidemic under President Reagan,
Secretary of Energy under President George H. W. Bush, and Chairman of the U. S.
Commission on Ocean Policy under President George W. Bush. He has been awarded
five honorary doctorate degrees.
* From the 2002 NSL Banquet
Program where he was honored as the first Distinguished Submariner
Sailor, rest you