Pacific Fleet’s deputy commander tapped to lead San Diego-based 3rd Fleet

Rear Adm. Stephen T. Koehler, currently serving as deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, has been chosen to lead 3rd Fleet.


By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 15, 2021

A naval aviator with experience in Iraq spanning from Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91 to the more recent Inherent Resolve has been nominated to command the San Diego-based 3rd Fleet, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.

If the Senate approves, Rear Adm. Stephen Koehler, currently the deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii, will be promoted to vice admiral as commander of 3rd Fleet, which is responsible for about 50 million square miles of the eastern and northern Pacific Ocean.

Its current commander, Vice Adm. Scott Conn, has held the position since September 2019.

Koehler, a San Diego native, was commissioned in March 1989 and holds a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College, according to the Navy’s official biography. He is also a graduate of the Joint Staff College and the Navy Nuclear Power Program.

He has commanded the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and Carrier Strike Group Nine.

During operational tours he supported the operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel in support of contingency operations in the Middle East.

He has logged over 3,900 hours in the F-14 Tomcat and the F-18 E/F Super Hornet fighter jets, according to his bio.

He served ashore as an instructor pilot with Strike Fighter Squadron 101, known as the Grim Reapers, and later as the squadron’s executive officer. He has also served as chief of staff to Joint Task Force Horn of Africa in Djibouti.

He became deputy commander of Pacific Fleet in October.

Twitter: @WyattWOlson