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Vice Admiral William Burke (Retired)


By Joseph Keefe

Chief Maritime Offi cer and EVP, Carnival Corporation & PLC


W hen Vice Admiral (ret) Burke joined Carnival

Corporation & plc in December of 2013 as

Executive Vice President and Chief Maritime

Offi cer of Corporate Maritime Operations, it is likely that the way cruise ship lines do business may have changed forever. That’s because the newly created position, where Burke is responsible for driving the company’s commit- ment to safety, has its focus – in Burke’s own words – “driven solely by the commitment to safety and not necessarily infl u- enced by other things.”

Burke graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering and has since completed his MBA and numerous other higher education hon- ors. The oldest of nine children, Burke went to the U.S. Naval

Academy thinking he could get a good education on the cheap and give his brothers and sisters other opportunities. Interest- ingly, his next two brothers attended the school, as well.

During a long and distinguished naval career, Burke served on fi ve submarines including command of USS Toledo (SSN 769) and his Washington, DC assignments include tours in the

Navy Offi ce of Legislative Affairs, Joint Chiefs of Staff di- rectorate for Combating Terrorism, Navy Warfi ghting Assess- ments Branch, and as the Executive Assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. Burke’s fl ag assignments have taken him just about everywhere else, including command of the Logistics

Group Western Pacifi c in Singapore.

Perhaps most important to his fi t for the current billet, Burke became a submarine commodore where he had as many as six submarines in his squadron. “I spent a good bit of my time rid- ing those submarines helping them try to get better and improve training, both from a deck and a technical perspective. I think one of the reasons Carnival wanted to hire me is that from the standpoint of a nuclear submariner, I understand both the deck and technical sides of the equation, which as you know, is quite different from the cruise and merchant side of the equation.

And, my other billets tended to be focused more on logistics and the broader navy.” Burke is clearly right at home in his new role, adding, “I was fortunate enough to fi nd a job which was exactly what I was looking for. It’s a place I can make a differ- ence, I don’t have throw out everything I’ve learned before and at the same time, there is much more for me learn.”

A Job like Nothing Else

Chief Maritime Offi cer is a position like no other in the com- mercial maritime world. But Carnival, already with an arguably enviable safety record over time, nevertheless was looking to step up its environmental, safety and operating effi ciency foot- print up another notch. Burke told MarPro in February, “This is something that has been brewing for a while, and it was the board’s wish that we have someone whose focus is driven sole- ly by the commitment to safety and not necessarily infl uenced by other things.” That sounds simple enough, but as Burke ex- plained further, there are a lot of pieces to that effort. “Certainly, there was safety, security, environmental, health, but there’s also the right kind of maintenance at the right time; it’s about build- ing ships that incorporate lessons learned and it is about how we train our people.” The role is more operational than admin- istrative and Burke has already spent time with the Executive

Vice Presidents of each of the operating lines, outlining plans to improve performance in the broader safety, health, security 20 | Maritime Professional | 1Q 2014

MP Q1 2014 18-33.indd 20 2/26/2014 1:20:40 PM

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Maritime Logistics Professional magazine is published six times annually.