Howard is currently serving as deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans, and strategy, N3/N5, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
On March 12, 1999, Vice Adm. Michelle Howard took command of USS Rushmore, becoming the first African-American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy. In 2006, she was selected for the rank of rear admiral lower half, making her the first admiral selected from the United States Naval Academy class of 1982 and the first woman graduate of the academy selected for admiral. She was promoted to three-star rank in 2012.
VADM Howard's initial sea tours were aboard USS Hunley and USS Lexington. While serving aboard Lexington, she received the Secretary of the Navy/Navy League Captain Winifred Collins award in May 1987. This award is given to one woman officer a year for outstanding leadership. In January 1996, she became executive officer of USS Tortuga and deployed to the Adriatic in support of a peacekeeping effort in the former Republic of Yugoslavia.
Sixty days after returning from the Mediterranean, Tortuga departed on a training cruise where the ship’s sailors, with embarked U.S. Marines and U.S. Coast Guard detachment, operated with the naval services of seven African nations. Howard commanded Amphibious Squadron 7 from 2004 to September 2005. Deploying with Expeditionary Strike Group 5, operations included tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and maritime security operations in the Persian Gulf.
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