Poland picks new navy chief after Russia crash

25th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Poland's acting head of state Bronislaw Komorowski on Friday named a new navy commander, two months after the country's top brass died in a plane crash in Russia with president Lech Kaczynski.

Admiral Tomasz Mathea has been promoted from his current post of deputy chief of the general staff, the Polish navy said in a statement.

Previous navy chief Admiral Andrzej Karweta was among the 96 people killed when Poland's presidential jet crashed on April 10 near Smolensk, western Russia.

The delegation had been heading to a 70th anniversary memorial ceremony in the nearby Katyn forest for thousands of captured Polish officers slain by the Soviets during World War II.

Komorowski has already named replacements for Poland's chief of staff and army and air force commanders, who were also among the crash victims.

Poland, which broke free from the crumbling communist bloc in 1989, has become a high-profile player in NATO since joining the trans-Atlantic alliance in 1999.

Mathea's career reflects that history.

Born in 1955, he joined the navy in 1974. He served as a submariner, and studied at a military college in the Soviet Union.

He was named commander of Poland's submarine fleet in 1991, later took courses at defence academies in Britain and the United States, and joined the general staff in 2003.

© 2010 AFP

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