President Bush Nominates Career Submarine Commander To Head Naval Academy

Sunday, March 18th 2007, 5:42 pm
By: News On 6

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) _ A career submarine commander praised for his handling of sexual misconduct incidents has been nominated to be the next Naval Academy superintendent.

Rear Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler would replace Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, whose four-year term ends this year. President Bush's nomination of Fowler must be confirmed by the Senate.

Fowler, a 1978 academy graduate, would take over an institution that has struggled with charges of sexual abuse and harassment since it first admitted women in 1976.

In 2006, three people were accused of sexual misconduct, including the football team's star quarterback, Lamar S. Owens. Alumni criticized Rempt for bringing charges against Owens, who was accused of raping a female midshipman, and then recommending that he be dismissed despite his acquittal on the rape charge.

The academy has taken several steps to curb abuse, including requiring midshipmen to take classes meant to raise awareness about sexual harassment.

``A lot of alumni would like to see an effort to get back to the basics,'' said alumnus John Howland, who distributes news and manages an alumni blog. ``A lot of us see this past few years as being a pretty rough time.''

Fowler, a North Dakota native, is up to the task, said Master Chief Petty Officer Evelyn Banks, who was a senior enlisted adviser to Fowler at the Navy's recruiting command in Millington, Tenn.

When Banks arrived at the recruiting command in 2003, she said, sailors were concerned about a number of sexual misconduct incidents, but Fowler ``created an environment where everybody felt respected.'' Fowler ``put the sailor first'' and considered the consequences his decisions would have on people's lives, she said.

During his career, Fowler has deployed to all four oceans, as well as the Middle East, and commanded a squadron of fast-attack, nuclear-powered subs.

Since July, he has been stationed in Naples, Italy, as the deputy director of the U.S. 6th Fleet in Europe and commander of allied submarine forces on the Mediterranean.