On 17 November 2020, Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite, a devoted student of and strong advocate for the U.S. Navy’s history, sat down for an interview with Proceedings Editor-in-Chief Bill Hamblet and Naval History Editor-in-Chief Eric Mills. Here, edited for length, is that conversation.
Mills: Mr. Secretary, it’s an honor speaking with you today. What is your favorite period of U.S. naval history, if there is one?
Braithwaite: I’ve been greatly influenced by the history of the formation of the U.S. Navy. I go back and I read about the early years of our Navy being created in the 1790s and the efforts at creating the first six frigates—I’m a huge fan of those ships. As you probably know, I recently named the new class of frigates after one of the original six [the Constellation]. So that’s a period of interest to me, including the formation of the young naval officer corps, people like Stephen Decatur and Oliver Hazard Perry. Their biographies are very interesting to me.