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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Patrick Walsh – who led the military response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan – will retire on Friday after 34 years of service, the Navy has announced.

Walsh will be replaced by Adm. Cecil Haney, former deputy of the U.S. Strategic Command, during a change of command ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a Navy news release said.

Haney will become the 33rd fleet commander since the fleet was established in 1941.

At U.S. Strategic Command, Haney, who holds three Master’s degrees, was responsible for providing capabilities and options to the president and secretary of defense in regard to nuclear force operations, missile defense, cyberspace operations, and efforts to combat proliferation or use of weapons of mass destruction, according to the release. He served on the USS John C. Calhoun and USS Asheville and commanded Submarine Squadron One and Submarine Group Two.

Walsh served as the 35th Vice Chief of Naval Operations prior to taking over as Pac Fleet commander, but he got his start as a pilot, flying with the “Golden Dragons” of Attack Squadron 192 and later, the Blue Angels. He commanded Carrier Air Wing 1 aboard USS John F. Kennedy, Carrier Group 7/USS John C. Stennis Strike Group, as well as the Combined Maritime Forces conducting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He has also served as a White House fellow.

The Pacific Fleet, which is headquartered in Hawaii, is responsible for more than half the world’s surface, from the West Coast of the U.S. to the Indian Ocean, the release said. Its commander is responsible for approximately 180 ships, 2,000 aircraft, and 125,000 sailors and Marines, as well as civilian personnel.

The change-of-command ceremony is scheduled for Friday at Pearl Harbor’s Kilo Pier with the USS Arizona and USS Missouri memorials as a backdrop.

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