U.S. Navy Promotes Its First Female 4-Star Admiral


macrumors 601
Original poster
Jun 16, 2008
Salute, y'all.


Navy Promotes Its First Female 4-Star Admiral
by Bill Chappell
July 02, 2014 10:14 AM ET

After 238 years, the U.S. Navy has its first female four-star admiral. Michelle Howard attained that rank Tuesday, in a ceremony presided over by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

It's the latest "first" for Howard, 54, who in 1999 became the first African-American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy after taking over the USS Rushmore. In her new capacity, she takes up the post of vice chief of Naval operations.

"Michelle's many trailblazing accomplishments in her 32 years of Naval service are evidence of both her fortitude and commitment to excellence and integrity," said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of Naval operations. "I look forward to many great things to come from the Navy's newest four-star admiral."

While you might not have heard of Howard until now, you probably know about an incident in which she had a hand: the rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates. The Washington Post reports:
"Howard is perhaps best known for leading Task Force 151, which oversaw counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. After Somali pirates attacked the cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama and captured its top officer, Capt. Richard Phillips, in April 2009, she devised a plan with others to get him back, dispatching the USS Bainbridge, a destroyer, to help. Navy SEAL snipers eventually opened fire on a small lifeboat carrying Phillips and three pirates, killing the bandits and freeing him."
The ceremony brought a moment of levity when Howard was forced to wait as Mabus struggled to attach her new four-star shoulder board to her uniform. She seemed to let out a sigh and eventually took the board from him to help open it.

Addressing the audience, Howard joked that her first act as a full admiral would be to call her boss, Greenert, by his first name. She then said, "So good morning, CNO" — using his official nickname.

Howard then explained that when she called a Navy office to order the women's four-star shoulder boards, she was told that they didn't exist. A special contract had to be issued to create them.

"And you folks are seeing the first set in the history of the United States Navy," she said with a smile, as the crowd applauded.

Acknowledging her family and relatives from Colorado, along with her Navy colleagues, Howard said, "Every one of you who's in a chair had something to do with me standing up here."
Well done, and congratulations.



macrumors 65816
Jan 31, 2010
Midlife, Midwest
Good point, France, England, Canada, and Sweden have Female Admirals already.
Not strictly true.

Admiral Howard achieved "4 Star" (OF9) "NATO" rank, which is just below the (only in war-time, in very exceptional circumstances, all but never to be repeated) 5-star rank.

The British Royal Navy etc. have appointed women to be Commanders (OF4) - but never has a female officer been promoted to 4-star rank. Given the much smaller size of the Royal Navy, and the fact that women were only fully absorbed into the service in 1993 (formerly they were part of the Women's Royal Naval Service) - it is unlikely a woman will reach Royal Navy 4-Star rank for some time - most likely at least a decade or two.


macrumors member
Oct 14, 2014
I'm surprised that there already hasn't been one. Congrats to Admiral Howard.
I am not: tere are not that many four-star admirals. You have to serve and be exceptional for several years (and 20 years ago there were little women in the military). Women are not allowed on submarines (at least a few years ago they weren't). And in military most serviceman are male. Just by simple logic and probability female four-star admirals are rare .

Many congratulations to her. I'm sure she worked hard for it.
I should hope so. In Europe women are sometimes promoted just because they are woman. This is not common, but it happens. Unfortunately this hurts female efforts - although a woman work hard, people question her credentials. I think this is worse than years of discrimination!
Last edited:


Dec 21, 2011
República Cascadia
It's very hard to get to 4 star in the Navy mainly because up until a few years ago females weren't allowed to serve on warships.
True, but she has had several ship commands. Ergo, she was promoted based on achievement, rather than on her sex. In the Army, a female can make 3-star without ever commanding so much as a company.
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