35 Years Later, Vice Adm. Davids Returns to Naval Academy Graduation in Historic Fashion

U.S. Naval Academy 65th Superintendent Vice Adm. Yvette Davids
U.S. Naval Academy 65th Superintendent Vice Adm. Yvette Davids, hosts the annual commissioning week garden parties for class of 2024 midshipmen from companies 1-12 and their guests at Farragut House. (Stacy Godfrey/U.S. Navy)

Friday won’t be the first time Navy Vice Adm. Yvette M. Davids has walked across the stage at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but this time, it’s historic.

This year, Davids will take to the stage at the United States Naval Academy’s graduation and commissioning ceremony as superintendent — the first time a woman has done so.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to return to the Naval Academy and serve as the 65th superintendent,” Davids said in a statement. “The energy and excitement that surrounds Commissioning Week has exactly the same feel as it did in 1989.”

Davids took the helm as the service academy’s superintendent in January following her nomination in April 2023. She replaced acting superintendent Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, who took over in an interim role following the retirement of Vice Adm. Sean Buck last summer.

As a midshipman, Davids studied oceanography and was on the intercollegiate dinghy sailing team before graduating in 1989. She later served as the director of Naval Academy sailing. She is married to Keith Davids, a 1990 academy graduate and fellow sailor who became a rear admiral and SEAL team commander.

Davids’ Navy career began during Operation Desert Storm, when she was an electrical officer, combat information center officer and communications officer aboard the USS San Jose.

She went on to become the first woman of Hispanic descent to command a Navy warship when she took the helm of the USS Curts, leading the guided missile frigate through the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. She also was commander of the guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and Carrier Strike Group 11 with the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

Stateside, Davids has been a senior military adviser to the secretary of state for political-military affairs with the U.S. Department of State and chief of staff for the U.S. Southern Command. She was most recently the director of the Learning to Action Board drive team, which assess military mistakes and offers ways to avoid them in the future, and acting commander of Naval Surface Forces and Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The historic nature of her nomination is not lost on Davids. Addressing attendees at her change of command ceremony this winter, the vice admiral reflected on the Class of 1980, the first at the academy to allow women.

“They were the trailblazers that sailed over benchmarked waters and set a path for women in the Naval Academy to follow,” Davids said in January. “I’m grateful for their courage, knowledge and support throughout my service.”

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