Extraordinary Ocean Leader Admiral James D. Watkins Passes Away

2016-06-29T09:24:38+00:00 July 27, 2012|
Admiral James D. Watkins

Admiral James D. Watkins

The Consortium for Ocean Leadership is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of ocean visionary Admiral James D. Watkins.  Admiral Watkins died yesterday at the age of 85.

Admiral Watkins lived a life of public service and his extraordinary influence on the ocean science community is immeasurable. 

He was the former Chief of Naval Operations during the Reagan Administration (1982-1986) and he also served as U.S. Secretary of Energy during the George H. W. Bush Administration and chaired the U.S. government commission on HIV/AIDS (1987-1988).

Along with his service and 37-year career in the U.S. Navy, Admiral Watkins is best known in the ocean community for his work leading the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP) from 2001 to 2004.  The Commission heard testimony from over 400 experts, including many of the nation’s top ocean scientists and researchers, environmental organizations, industry, citizens and government officials.  In September 2004, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy submitted its Final Report to the President and Congress, “An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century.”  The following year, Admiral Watkins joined with Leon Panetta, who chaired the Pew Ocean Commission, to establish the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI).  Together, they worked to implement the recommendations of their commissions, many of which were included in President Obama’s 2010 National Ocean Policy.

Admiral Watkins served as President of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI) from 1993-2000 and in 1994, he established the Consortium for Ocean Research and Education (CORE), which he led through 2001.  While at CORE, Admiral Watkins began the National Ocean Science Bowl competition, modeled after the National Science Bowl, which he established during his tenure at the Department of Energy.  In 2007, Ocean Leadership was formed with the merger of the CORE and JOI. 

In 2008, Admiral Watkins was recognized for his work by former President George W. Bush with the Presidential Citizens Medal.

“Admiral Watkins was an extraordinary human being and a visionary leader, whose passion was only rivaled by his humanity,” said Robert B. Gagosian, President & CEO of Ocean Leadership.  “He served the science community, the nation and humankind with integrity, unselfishness and honor.  He was the quintessential public servant.  Our thoughts, prayers and a lifetime of gratitude go out to his wife Janet and all of his family.  He was the Admiral and truly one of a kind.  His impact on all of us who knew and worked with him will last forever.”

The Viewing for Admiral Watkins will be held on Thursday, August 2 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Demaine Funeral Home, located in Old Town, Alexandria, on the corner of South Washington Street and Gibbons Street.

The Memorial Service will be held on Friday, August 3 at 11:00 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception, located on 400 Michigan Avenue Northeast, Washington, D.C. A Reception will be held at the Army/Navy Club located at Farragut Square (901 17th Street NW) in Washington, D.C.

If you are interested in making a donation in Admiral Watkins’ memory, the family requests you consider honoring the following organizations:

Indian River Medical Center

Inova Heart and Vascular Institute