Navy secretary visits Key West naval air base this week

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is scheduled to visit Naval Air Station Key West Thursday afternoon, according to spokeswoman Trice Denny.

"He goes all around the fleet and talks to sailors and Marines. He's going to see our air operations, our port operations," Denny said Tuesday.

Mabus has been Navy secretary since 2009, when President Obama appointed him to the civilian position. The last Navy secretary to visit NAS Key West was Donald Winter in June 2007. Mabus is the 75th navy secretary.

Denny said "he does these [visits] around the world to meet with sailors, Marines and Navy civilians. We're preparing the base as we would for any high-level visitor or inspection -- sprucing up to make sure the base looks good. [Base commander Capt. Steve] McAlearney intends to show the secretary our air operations -- there's Marine Harriers and Hornets in town, as well as the F-5s of VFC-111, and then he will take him to port operations at the Truman Waterfront. There the secretary will see dive training operations and whatever vessels are in port at that time."

Mabus announced in July that female Navy and Marine Corps personnel will have 18 weeks of maternity leave, up from six weeks. 

Mabus oversees a $170 billion budget and almost 900,000 people. Prior to his appointment, the former Mississippi state auditor and governor (1988 to 1992) was chairman of manufacturing company Foamex International. He was ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994 to 1996, appointed by President Clinton.

He's a graduate of the University of Mississippi, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard.

He served in the Navy from 1970 to 1972.