U.S. Navy forces in Bahrain will soon see a new boss at the helm.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced Wednesday the nomination of Rear Adm. William E. Gortney as the new commander for U.S. Naval Forces, Central Command and Commander, 5th Fleet.

The proposed assignment follows Gortney’s nomination for promotion to vice admiral.

Initially trained as an aviator, Gortney previously served with NAVCENT/5th Fleet from 2003 to 2004 as the chief of staff. He is currently in charge of the Navy’s Carrier Strike Group Ten in Norfolk, Va.

When he takes command of NAVCENT/5th Fleet, Gortney will be in charge of approximately 20,000 people serving at sea and 3,000 shore-based sailors in support jobs.

NAVCENT/5th Fleet provides ongoing maritime security in the area of responsibility, encompassing about 7.5 million square miles of the Middle East, East Africa and Southwest Asia, according to the command.

Included in these areas are the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean, along with the Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal.

The mission focuses on ensuring sea lanes remain open for commercial shipping.

This includes providing protection for Iraqi oil terminals, and routine search and seizure operations to combat piracy in the region, according to the command Web site.

When confirmed, Gortney will replace Vice Admiral Kevin J. Cosgriff, the current NAVCENT/5th Fleet commander.

Navy officials have not yet set a date for the change of command, or released information on Cosgriff’s next assignment.

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