Va. Beach native to lead Navy Region Mid-Atlantic
Change of command scheduled June 30
The next commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic is a former naval flight officer and Virginia Beach native.
Rear Adm. Christopher “Scotty” Gray will take over for Rear Adm. Charles “Chip” Rock during a change of command ceremony scheduled at Naval Station Norfolk Thursday. Rock, who has commanded a region overseeing 14 naval installations and nearly two dozen reserve outposts from Wisconsin through North Carolina, including the world’s largest naval base in Norfolk, is retiring from the sea service after almost 35 years.
Gray has led the Naples, Italy-based Navy Region Europe, Africa, Central since May 2020, where he was responsible for nine installations as well as other locations stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf, and from Northern Europe to Africa. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in international relations in 1988 and worked as an investment banker before receiving his commission through the Navy’s Aviation Officer Candidate Program. Gray earned his wings of gold in June 1990, becoming a naval flight officer on the E-2C Hawkeye, the Navy’s early warning, carrier-based tactical aircraft.
Gray’s sea duties have included assignments with several Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadrons (VAW) as well as commanding officer of Norfolk-based VAW 124 before reporting as the operations officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower for back-to-back deployments to the Arabian Gulf during Operation Enduring Freedom. He has more than 500 carrier-arrested landings and 2,800 flight hours in tactical aircraft. On shore, he has also served as a military legislative assistant to the House Appropriations Military Construction Subcommittee; legislative affairs officer to U.S. Central Command; plans director at Navy Warfare Development Command; commanding officer of Naval Support Activity Naples, in Italy; chief of staff at Navy Region Southeast; commanding officer, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, executive assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, and chief of staff for Navy Installations Command. Before his most recent position, Gray commanded the Silverdale, Washington-based Navy Region Northwest from June 2018 to March 2020.
Among Gray’s multiple honors are four Legion of Merit awards and the Air Medal with Combat “V” denoting valor.
Rock has commanded Navy Region Mid-Atlantic since July 2018, presiding over challenges including investigations into complaints of substandard military housing and the COVID-19 pandemic. In a first, the Navy struck an economic development deal with Virginia Beach in summer 2021 to lease land on Naval Air Station Oceana to private business for in-kind services.
In fiscal 2020, the Navy accounted for $15.8 billion in direct local spending in Hampton Roads, down about $650 million from the previous year. Nearly 90,000 active-duty Navy and Marine Corps personnel serve in Hampton Roads alongside 52,000 civilians and contractors. Rock is a member of the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children and serves on the board of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.