England back as Navy head

For the first time since the 19th century, a secretary of the Navy is serving a second term in the highest civilian office in the service.

Gordon England was sworn in yesterday as the 73rd Secretary of the Navy. England vacated the post in January to serve as a deputy secretary in the then-newly created Homeland Security Department.

Hansford Johnson had been acting secretary since England's departure. President Bush originally selected New Mexico oil magnate and political confidante Colin McMillan to succeed England, but McMillan committed suicide this summer.

England was the Navy secretary from May, 2001, until January, 2003. The last man to hold the job more than once, John Mason, held the job of 16th naval secretary from 1844 to 1845, and from 1846 to 1849 he served as the 18th.

"Our sailors and Marines are indeed the world's finest, and I appreciate the president giving me the opportunity to again serve our men and women in uniform and their families," England said.

Johnson will continue as assistant secretary of the Navy for installations and environment.

"With [Johnson's] steady hand and commitment to sailors and Marines, the Department of the Navy never missed a beat," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark said in a statement. England's "leadership, focus on mission accomplishment, and commitment to improving both our business practices and the quality of service for our sailors and Marines are valued and needed qualities as we build the future Navy."

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