Biden nominates 7th Fleet commander to be next director of naval intelligence
Stars and Stripes March 10, 2023
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – The commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as director of naval intelligence, one of several promotions or new assignments announced recently.
Vice Adm. Karl Thomas’ nomination Wednesday, announced in a news release by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, is one of four moves by flag officers with recent experience in the Indo-Pacific region.
A native of Northern Virginia, Thomas in July 2021 took command of 7th Fleet, the largest overseas U.S. naval fleet, headquartered at Yokosuka south of Tokyo.
He previously served as commander of Task Force 70 and Carrier Strike Group 5, centered on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, also homeported at Yokosuka.
If confirmed by the Senate, Thomas’ new assignment returns him to the Pentagon, where he served as assistant deputy chief for naval operations, plans and strategy prior to taking command of 7th Fleet. His new assignment includes the title deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, according to a DOD news release.
Another Indo-Pacific veteran, Rear Adm. (lower half) Patrick Hannifin will take Thomas’ previous role commanding the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and Task Force 70 sometime this year, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced last month.
Hannifin skippered the Ronald Reagan from September 2018 until October 2020, when he turned the ship over to Capt. Fred Goldhammer in a scaled-down bridge ceremony during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hannifin will replace Rear Adm. (lower half) Michael “Buzz” Donnelly, who is slated for promotion to rear admiral (upper half) and reassignment as air warfare division director for the chief of naval operations.
The change is expected to take place sometime this summer, Task Force 70 spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Keiley told Stars and Stripes by email March 3.
Hannifin, a Hornet and Super Hornet fighter pilot, is currently deputy director for political-military affairs in Asia for the Joint Staff’s director of strategy, plans and policy. He also served on or commanded units aboard the carriers USS George Washington, USS Nimitz and USS Harry S. Truman.
Hannifin succeeded Donnelly as commander of the Ronald Reagan in 2018. From there, Donnelly took over U.S. Naval Forces Korea and Navy Region Korea.
Another Yokosuka officer, Rear Adm. (lower half) Richard Seif Jr., was selected for promotion to upper half and assignment as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Seif, currently the commander at Yokosuka of Submarine Group 7, Task Force 74 and Task Force 54, will take over from Rear Adm. (upper half) Jeffrey Jablon.
Replacing Seif is Rear Adm. (lower half) Christopher Cavanaugh, currently the director of Maritime Headquarters for U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, according to Del Toro.