Joe Biden has nominated a female admiral to lead the US navy – and if confirmed, she would be the first woman to head a military service branch of the Pentagon.

Admiral Lisa Franchetti, the current vice chief of operations for the navy, would also become the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In a statement, the US president highlighted her 38 years of experience, saying: “Throughout her career, Admiral Franchetti has demonstrated extensive expertise in both the operational and policy arenas.”

Mr Biden also noted she was the second woman ever to achieve the rank of four-star admiral in the US navy.

Pentagon officials had expected the nomination to go to Admiral Samuel Paparo, a TOPGUN graduate who leads the navy in the Pacific, according to US media.

Instead, Admiral Paparo was tapped to become the commander of US military forces in the Pacific.

Admiral Franchetti is a surface warfare officer who has commanded at all levels, heading the US 6th Fleet and US Naval Forces Korea.

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She has also commanded a naval destroyer and served two stints as aircraft carrier strike group commander.

Last year Mr Biden picked Admiral Linda Fagan to lead the US Coast Guard – making her its first female commanding officer – though the coast guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defence.

Admiral Franchetti is expected to serve as acting chief next month when Admiral Michael Gilday retires.

Pic: AP

Senate block

The president’s nominations must be approved by the US Senate.

Hundreds of military moves are being held up by Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, who is blocking the confirmation of military officers in a protest against a Defence Department policy that reimburses costs for servicemembers who travel to a different state to get an abortion.

In a statement Mr Biden said Mr Tuberville’s block was “wrong” and “dangerous”.

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“He is risking our ability to ensure that the United States Armed Forces remain the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. And his Republican colleagues in the Senate know it,” he said.

A woman has never led the UK’s Royal Navy, though last year Jude Terry became its first female admiral.

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