Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson is a 1993 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering. He also earned a master’s degree in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School and a master’s degree in National Security from the Naval War College.
Nicholson’s sea duty assignments include commander and deputy commander, Destroyer Squadron 22, embarked on USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77); commanding officer and executive officer of USS Pinckney (DDG 91); commanding officer of USS Sentry (MCM 3), USS Gladiator (MCM 11), and USS Defender (MCM 2) as part of MCM Crew Swerve; chief engineer on USS O’Bannon (DD 987) and USS McFaul (DDG 74); and division officer on USS Mitscher (DDG 57).
During his seagoing career, he has made numerous deployments around the world from the Western Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Adriatic, Red, and North Seas as well as combat operations in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman; and counter-narcotics operations around South America. He has been fortunate to have served with multiple Battle Effectiveness Award (Battle “E”) winning crews.
His ashore combat tours include civil-military operations planner in Second Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Helmand, Afghanistan; and commander, Provincial Reconstruction Team and Forward Operating Base, Farah, Afghanistan. He has also served in numerous ashore joint and staff billets to include executive assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; assistant deputy director Middle East Directorate (J5) in the Joint Staff; Special Operations Support Team to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and head of the professional development section (N131) in the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) staff.
His military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Navy Commendation Medal (four awards), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (three awards), Combat Action Ribbon, and various campaign and unit awards. He is also a 2015 recipient of the FBI Director’s Award.