The 74th Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, resigned his office today as planned. Winter had agreed to remain in office until March 13, 2009, to ease the transition of the Department of Defense. “As I relinquish my duties as Secretary of the Navy, I count myself blessed for having had the opportunity to serve as your Secretary,” Winter said in a message to the Navy and Marine Corps. “No period in my professional life can compare to the experiences that I have had in this position.” Winter became the Secretary of the Navy on Jan. 3, 2006. During his tenure, Winter focused on three priorities: prosecuting the war against terrorist enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan; taking care of wounded Sailors, Marines and their families; and building the future fleet. Additionally, he carried out far-reaching acquisition reforms, with an emphasis on rebuilding an acquisition corps of professionals within the department, demanding accountability, and insisting on a systems engineering approach to acquisitions. Under Winter’s leadership, the Department of the Navy strove to maintain a balance of environmental stewardship while preserving the professional training requirements of the Navy and Marine Corps. The importance of these efforts was recognized by the Supreme Court in a precedent setting opinion. Winter also enhanced the Navy’s role in missile defense, codified policies to leverage special operations capabilities in the Navy and Marine Corps, and increased the department’s focus on intelligence collection and analysis. “Every time I meet with Sailors and Marines, I come away impressed by the tremendous capability and flexibility of our warfighters to accomplish the mission, no matter what the challenge,” he said. “I am honored to have served you as your Secretary. Thank you for your service to our nation.” BJ Penn will be the acting Secretary of the Navy until the Senate confirms a nominee chosen by President Barack Obama.