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In Memoriam: Rear Admiral Brian L. Davies, USN

Jan. 4, 2024 | By Sam Cox (Rear Adm. U.S. Navy Retired) Director, Naval History and Heritage Command
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral Brian Llewellyn Davies on 30 December 2023 at age 54. Rear Admiral Davies entered the U.S. Naval Academy in July 1987 and served as a submarine warfare officer until his passing in December 2023 as director of the Learning to Action Drive Team on the Navy Staff. His commands included the fast attack submarine Jimmy Carter (SSN-23), Submarine Squadron ELEVEN, and Submarine Group TWO, with additional duty as deputy commander of U.S. Second Fleet. While under his command, Jimmy Carter was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and the Battle “E,” and then-Commander Davies was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal.

Brian Davies entered the U.S. Naval Academy on 1 July 1987. He was a member of 35th Company and rowed on the crew team. He graduated on 29 May 1991 with a bachelor of science degree in ocean engineering and was commissioned an ensign. He then went on to graduate school at Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, where he earned a master of science degree in physics (acoustics). He was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) in May 1993. The next month, he reported to Naval Nuclear Power School, Orlando, Florida, followed in January 1994 with duty under instruction at Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit, Idaho Falls, Idaho. In July 1994, he attended Naval Submarine School, Groton, Connecticut.

In November 1994, Lieutenant (j.g.) Davies reported to Norfolk-based, Los Angeles–class fast attack submarine Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-709), serving as reactor control assistant, damage control assistant, and assistant engineer while the boat conducted East Coast–based missions. He was promoted to lieutenant in June 1995 and designated a submarine warfare officer in 1996.

In October 1997, Lieutenant Davies reported to Naval Submarine School in Groton as an instructor. In January 1999, he commenced a leave, transit, and training pipeline before reporting in May 1999 to Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine Nebraska (SSBN-739) as engineer of the Blue Crew. Operating under Submarine Group TEN at King’s Bay, Georgia, Davies completed six strategic deterrent patrols aboard Nebraska. He was promoted to lieutenant commander in July 2001.

In September 2002, Lieutenant Commander Davies assumed duty as officer-in-charge, Submarine Development Squadron FIVE (SUBDEVRON 5) Detachment, Bangor, Washington. In June 2003, he became operations officer and then chief staff officer for SUBDEVRON 5 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

In August 2004, Davies assumed duty as executive officer for Los Angeles–class fast attack submarine Houston (SSN-713) operating from Bremerton, Washington, for Pacific and Indian Ocean submarine missions. In May 2006, he reported to Navy Personnel Command as submarine assignment branch head and executive officer detailer/placement officer. He was promoted to commander in October 2006. In January 2008, he attended the Submarine Command Course at Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

In September 2008, Commander Davies assumed command of the modified Seawolf-class submarine Jimmy Carter, completing two mission cycles, during which the submarine was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and a SUBDEVRON 5 Battle “E.” In March 2012, Commander Davies reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations as deputy nuclear propulsion program manager (N133). He was promoted to captain in March 2013.

In September 2013, Captain Davies was assigned as senior military assistant to the principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for policy. In January 2016, Davies assumed duty as commodore of Submarine Squadron ELEVEN at Naval Base Point Loma, California, where he was responsible for five Los Angeles–class fast attack submarines, the Undersea Rescue Command, and the Navy’s only floating dry dock, Arco (ARDM-5). In September 2017, he assumed duty in Navy Personnel Command as director of Submarine Nuclear Power Distribution, PERS-42. He was promoted to rear admiral (lower half) on 1 September 2020.

In March 2021, Rear Admiral Davies assumed duty as Commander, Submarine Group TWO, in Norfolk, which had been reestablished in 2019 (after being disestablished in 2014), with additional duty as Commander, Task Force EIGHT FOUR (CTF 84), the theater undersea warfare commander for U.S. Fleet Forces Command. CTF 84 had operational responsibilities to both U.S. Second Fleet and U.S. Fourth Fleet. In June 2021, Davies assumed additional duty as deputy commander, U.S. Second Fleet.

In June 2023, Rear Admiral Davies was assigned to the Navy Staff as director, Learning to Action Drive Team. He was promoted to rear admiral (upper half) on 5 December 2023. Rear Admiral Davies passed away while in active duty status on 30 December 2023.

Rear Admiral Davies’s awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal; Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit (five awards); Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal (three awards); Navy Commendation Medal (four awards); Navy Achievement Medal (three awards); Presidential Unit Citation; Navy Unit Commendation; Battle Efficiency Ribbon (four awards); Navy Expeditionary Medal; National Defense Service Medal (two awards); Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Sea Service Ribbon (two bronze stars); Navy Arctic Service Ribbon; and the Navy Overseas Service Ribbon.

In losing Rear Admiral Brian Davies, our flag wardroom has lost a stellar officer; his career, and more importantly, his life have been cut short far too soon, both at their very pinnacle. Due to the nature of submarine operations, the vagueness of saying he served in the Arctic, western Pacific, northern Atlantic, and Indian Oceans doesn’t come anywhere near the reality. Those who understand nuclear submarine operations know that there is no such thing as “routine.” It is all arduous and inherently dangerous, and the only reason it isn’t deadly is the extraordinary professionalism of the submarine crews and officers who lead them. Brian was described as a “phenomenal” leader—excellence surrounded him everywhere he went (attested to by his four Battle “E”s). His selection to command Jimmy Carter was in recognition of—and a testament to—, his uncommon leadership. Although Jimmy Carter’s missions remain highly classified, the award of the Presidential Unit Citation for the submarine’s crew, and a Distinguished Service Medal to then-Commander Davies, clearly indicate successful missions of vital importance to the national security of the United States. Based on his career, there were probably a couple more stars destined for his collar, earned at great sacrifice by him and his family. In the words of Vice Admiral Rob Gaucher (Commander, Naval Submarine Forces), “For those unaware, Brian had been battling cancer for the last few years. Despite some grueling treatments that would bring most of us to our knees, Brian not only maintained a great attitude and fighting spirit, but remained on active duty, refusing to stop doing his job in service to our country.” The day after Rear Admiral Davies’s passing, Admiral Daryl Caudle stated, “We lost a warrior last night. A fierce leader who fought this horrible disease with courage, drive, and commitment.” I am confident that the entire flag wardroom sends their prayers and heartfelt condolences to Brian’s wife, Kacey, and daughter Caitlin, as well as intense gratitude for the sacrifices they have made in serving our country. It is also an opportunity for us to reflect that none of us would have made flag without an intense drive for mission success, and yet there is nothing more precious than time with our families, of which there is never enough.

Funeral services will be at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, 18 January.

Rest in Peace, Admiral Davies.