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The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program held a change-of-command ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard Nov. 2.

Adm. John M. Richardson relieved Adm. Kirkland H. Donald as Director, Naval Reactors in a ceremony attended by several hundred distinguished guests.

Adm. Donald, a submarine officer and a 1975 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, assumed command of U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program in November of 2004. In his eight-year tenure, Donald led the command with a focus on maintaining the highest standards of integrity and excellence in the program and ensuring that Naval Reactors provides the United States Navy unmatched capability in endurance, responsiveness, and tactical flexibility to support missions all over the world. Donald thanked all of the people who supported Naval Reactors throughout his tenure and spoke fondly of the quality of those he worked with at the command.

"For those here today and for those here in spirit, please know that I am profoundly grateful and deeply in your debt for your sustained friendship," said Donald. "I have had the great good fortune to work for and alongside a group of professionals without equal in the business of nuclear power and I dare say in the whole of the engineering discipline."

During his distinguished nearly 37 years of naval service as a commissioned officer, Donald served in a variety of sea and shore billets including Commander, Submarine Forces, Commander, Submarine Group Eight, and Commanding Officer of USS Key West (SSN-772).

Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, spoke of the many accomplishments during Donald's tenure and presented him with a Department of Energy award for exceptional service.

"Under Admiral Donald's outstanding leadership, the Naval Reactors program has been responsible for the safe and successful operation of our country's naval nuclear propulsion systems," said Secretary Chu. "On behalf of the Department of Energy, I thank him for his 37 years of dedicated service to this country."

Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, highlighted the importance of nuclear propulsion capability to the Navy and presented Admiral Donald with a Distinguished Service Medal.

"Today, all of our aircraft carriers and submarines are nuclear powered and provide the United States with a technological and warfighting edge that helps our national security and global stability." said Mabus.

Adm. Richardson, a submariner and 1982 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, becomes the 6th Director, Naval Reactors. He has served in a variety of command positions afloat and ashore, including most recently as Commander, Submarine Forces. Prior to that he served as Commander, Submarine Group Eight and also commanded USS Honolulu (SSN-718). Richardson spoke of the storied history of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and his dedication to leading Naval Reactors into the future.

"The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program has a rich 64-year history of safety and success while executing a wide range of missions around the globe. Founded on the vision and hard work of Admiral Rickover and others who went before us, this legacy is now entrusted to us," said Richardson. "I am totally committed. I am confident in our team and I am privileged and proud to stand with you as we press forward."

The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program is a joint Department of Energy and Department of Navy organization responsible for all aspects of the Navy's nuclear propulsion, including research, design, construction, testing, operation, maintenance and ultimate disposition of naval nuclear propulsion plants. The program's responsibility includes all related facilities, radiological controls, environmental safety and health matters, as well as the selection, training, and assignment of personnel. Naval Reactors maintains an outstanding record of over 150 million miles safely steamed on nuclear power. The program currently operates 104 reactors and has accumulated of 6400 reactor-years of operation.

For more information about the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, visit http://nnsa.energy.gov/ourmission/poweringnavy.