The commander of Naval forces in Europe has been tapped to become the Navy’s next top officer.

Adm. Michael Mullen will replace Adm. Vern Clark as chief of Naval Operations, pending approval of his nomination by the Senate.

Clark has served as the Navy’s 27th CNO since July 21, 2000.

A 1968 Naval Academy graduate, Mullen has served in Europe for only a few months. He has been wearing two hats: as the commander of the London-based U.S. Naval Forces, Europe and the head of NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy. Mullen took over those jobs on Oct. 8, 2004.

Before taking over in Europe, Mullen served as Clark’s deputy as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations from 2003 to 2004.

Fleet assignments during his 36 years of service have included command of the George Washington Battle Group, the supply ship Noxubee, the guided-missile destroyer Goldsborough and guided-missile cruiser Yorktown.

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