Mr. President, my colleague Senator Jim Risch joins me today in paying tribute to ADM Kirkland Donald, U.S. Navy, as he prepares to complete a naval career that began with his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1975 and concludes with his past 8 years of service as Director of the Office of Naval Reactors.
As Director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, Admiral Donald has had stewardship of every aspect of the nuclear navy, from fleet operations and training to reactor design and ultimate disposition of spent nuclear fuel. The dedication required of this mission is extraordinary, and our Nation has benefited from Admiral Donald’s steadfast leadership.
Over the course of his career, Admiral Donald excelled as an undersea commander. He served as the commanding officer of the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS KEY WEST, commander of the elite Submarine Development Squadron Twelve and Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and Allied Submarine Command, Atlantic. Other highlights include tours at the Bureau of Naval Personnel, the Joint Staff, and as commander of all U.S. Submarine Forces.
While at Naval Reactors, he has ensured the safe operations of the nuclear navy. Nuclear-powered warships have safely steamed over 150 million miles and operated for more than 6,400 reactor years without an accident. The most recent 20 million miles and 800 reactor-years have been achieved under Admiral Donald’s leadership.
Among his many achievements, one of the most impressive is the consistent and quiet success of the Naval Reactors Facility, NRF, in Idaho Falls. The highly complex and scientific work done at NRF requires not only a highly skilled, diligent workforce but the trust and confidence of the people of Idaho. As a result of Admiral Donald’s work, that confidence has flourished.
Admiral Donald has been instrumental to the future of the Navy, having overseen the highly successful construction of many Virginia-Class attack submarines, the final design and construction of the next-generation USS GERALD R. FORD aircraft carrier, and the initial design of the Ohio-class replacement ballistic missile submarine. All three platforms incorporate impressive new technologies into the nuclear propulsion plants that have proven to be safe and reliable for nearly 70 years. These ships will allow the Navy to continue to protect America and our interests around the globe and would not be possible without the steadfast leadership of Admiral Donald.
Admiral Donald’s selfless commitment to serving our Nation has left us safer and better prepared to respond to threats around the world. He leaves a legacy of service, dedication to the Navy, and commitment to the environment. With our deepest gratitude, we wish him the very best in retirement after an impressive and impactful career.