Whispers circled across the Surface Naval Association's show floor Thursday ahead of Navy Under Secretary Robert Work's speech. Those whispers even entered the question-and-answer session of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus' session during the morning session.
How much longer will the "never boring" Work serve as the Navy's under secretary. Work is known for saying exactly what he thinks, when he thinks it. His speeches are never skipped by defense reporters and Work rarely leaves them disappointed.
The first question Work took after his speech Thursday was about his future with the Navy.
"I think this will be my last Surface Navy Association as the under secretary. And that's all I really I want to say about that," Work said.
But Work wasn't done.
"Let me tell you, this is the greatest job. The under secretary of the navy is the greatest job on the planet," Work said. "The secretary would argue with me, but the under secretary, yeah, and so walking away from it will be very hard. But I think after four years I'm turning into an angry old man...I got to step back. I'll do something for awhile and then I'll step back."
Work took over as the Navy's No. 2 civilian leader after the vice president for strategic studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Work is a retired Marine officer and typically the Navy's champion on Capitol Hill. He's well liked by Congressional staff members for his straight talk and honesty.
It's unclear who the White House and the Navy plan to replace Work when he does step down.