In this file photo, Master Chief James Honea leads a formation of chief petty officers during a Navy birthday celebration in 2014. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Sean Hurt)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Fleet Master Chief James Honea was selected as the 18th fleet master chief for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Honea, who is currently serving as the fleet master chief at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet, in Manama, Bahrain, will take over as the Pacific Fleet enlisted leader in January.

“Master Chief Honea was chosen from a select group of highly qualified candidates,” said Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. “His operational experience and broad leadership assignments ensure he is the right leader to continue to provide support and inspirational leadership to our military and civilian workforce, and their families.”

Honea will relieve Fleet Master Chief Susan Whitman who will retire after 32 years of service.

In his new assignment, Honea will be the senior enlisted leader for the world’s largest naval command with more than 130,000 active duty and reserve Sailors who operate approximately 200 ships and submarines and 1,100 aircraft.

“I will look to him to provide key insight as my most trusted advisor on all issues critical to the continued success of our enlisted force and their families," said Swift. “He has our Navy's and our Sailor's best interests in mind and can provide a unique perspective that will only help to increase mission readiness throughout the fleet during a critical time.”

Honea joined the Navy in 1987. His previous assignments include USS John A. Moore (FFG 19), USS Juneau (LPD 10), USS Dubuque (LPD 8), USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), Navy Reserve Readiness Command, U.S. Naval Academy and Navy Region Southwest.

His previous tours as a command master chief include USS Gridley (DDG 101), USS New Orleans (LPD 18), Naval Support Activity South Potomac, U.S. Naval Forces Korea and as an Individual Augmentee to U.S. Navy Embedded Training Teams, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, deployed to Afghanistan. Honea is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy, Command Master Chief Course and Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education Keystone course for senior enlisted leaders from National Defense University.