Rear Adm. Walter E. "Ted" Carter Jr., a 1981 graduate of the academy and a record-setting Top Gun pilot, must be confirmed by the Senate before he can take command of the elite college for future Navy and Marine Corps officers. He would succeed Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, who is scheduled to retire this summer after four years at Annapolis and 40 in the Navy.
Carter, a native of Rhode Island, holds the Navy's record for carrier-assisted landings with 2,016. He has flown 125 combat missions, with service in the Iraq War, the Gulf War and the Kosovo War. He has commanded a strike fighter squadron, a fast combat support ship, an aircraft carrier and a carrier strike group.
As superintendent of the Naval Academy, he would oversee an institution roiled in the past year by the alleged sexual assault of a female midshipman by three members of the Navy football team and shaken by the sudden deaths of three midshipmen during February and March.
Carter has spent 11 months as president of the Naval War College, the Navy's postgraduate school for midlevel and senior officers. The institution in Newport, R.I., did not make him available for comment Friday.
Carter wrote of the importance of the mission there, and of naval education, in an opinion piece published in the Providence Journal in December.
"Many will view the next 5 to 10 years as a period of resetting our military with much discussion on spending less and becoming a smaller force," he wrote. "But this is exactly the time when we must value the investment in educating our men and women who will help us deter war if possible, or ensure that we will win a future war and, most importantly, the subsequent peace."
Carter completed Navy Fighter Weapons School — the training program in San Diego known popularly as Top Gun — in 1985. He has commanded the VF-14 "Tophatters" strike fighter squadron, the fast combat support ship USS Camden, the Nimitz class supercarrier USS Carl Vinson and the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group.
Carter has logged 6,150 flight hours in F-4, F-14 and F-18 aircraft. He has earned the Defense Superior Service Medal twice, the Legion of Merit three times, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Combat "V", and the Bronze Star, among other decorations.
With his nomination to the academy, he has also been nominated for promotion to vice admiral.
Miller, also an academy graduate, has presided over the expansion of its cybersecurity offerings; there's now a cyber operations major. All midshipmen receive at least some training in the field each year at Annapolis. And officials are planning to build a Center of Cyber Security Studies.
At the same time, the academy, like the military as a whole, has grappled with sexual assaults. As commander, Miller oversaw the investigation of three football players who were accused of sexually assaulting an intoxicated female midshipman at an off-campus party in 2012.
Miller declined to pursue charges against one of the players; he has graduated and been commissioned an ensign in the Navy. Charges against another player were dropped before they went to trial; he has left the academy. The third player was acquitted this year; he also has left.
The alleged victim graduated last month and was commissioned an ensign.
Miller had to console the academy community this year during an unusual run of deaths within the brigade of midshipmen.
In February, a senior midshipman was found dead after he drove an SUV into a creek on the academy grounds. In March, a freshman football player died after collapsing on a practice field. Later in March, a sophomore midshipman died after a skateboarding injury at Assateague State Park.
Miller's official retirement date has not been set, an academy spokesman said.