The Honorable Kenneth J. Braithwaite of Pennsylvania served as the 77th Secretary of the Navy from 2020 to 2021. He was the first Navy flag officer (admiral) to become a confirmed Secretary of the Navy. Previously he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway where he strengthened bilateral relations especially on defense with emphasis on the Arctic.
Braithwaite was born in Livonia, Michigan and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984. Earning his Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator, he flew P-3 Orions tracking adversary submarines in the Pacific and Arctic. Redesignated a public affairs officer, he served aboard USS America and with Carrier Group 2 as well as Striking Force 6th Fleet.
After serving as Chief of Public Affairs at the Philadelphia Naval Base, Braithwaite joined the Naval Reserve in 1993. In 1995 he earned a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Continuing his Navy service, he commanded Navy Combat Camera Atlantic where he deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Later, he became the first commander of Joint Public Affairs Support Element-Joint Forces Command where he deployed for disaster relief in Pakistan. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 2007, and served as the first Vice Chief of Information until retiring from the Navy in 2011. In the private sector he has held executive roles in the health care and petroleum industries.
While serving as Secretary of the Navy, Braithwaite orchestrated the first ever TriService Maritime Strategy aligning the Navy, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard with the National Defense Strategy. Moreover, he led the Department through COVID19, maintaining readiness while protecting personnel. He also produced the first ever US Navy Strategy for the Arctic. Finally he stressed the importance of culture, strengthening the Navy’s ties to its history by supporting a new National Museum of the United States Navy, and naming the new Constellation-class frigates after the U.S. Navy’s first frigates.
Since leaving office, Ambassador Braithwaite has been working with Silicon Valley Bank, Kongsberg and Summa Equity as a senior advisor. He is also on the board of Tritium, a publicly traded company producing the next generation of EV chargers.