LT Thomas Ernst is a native of Edmonds, Washington. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he earned his B.S. in History with a minor in Japanese Language. While a Midshipman at Annapolis, he was selected for an intensive 6-month language program at the Japanese National Defense Academy in Yokosuka in partnership with the Japanese Self Defense Forces and was a recipient of the State Department's Critical Language Scholarship to study Japanese at the University of Shiga Prefecture in Hikone, Japan.
LT Ernst reported onboard the guided missile cruiser USS SHILOH (CG 67) for his first tour as a division officer in December 2016. While onboard SHILOH, he served as the Combat Information Center Officer, Main Propulsion Officer and Auxiliaries Officer.
Upon the completion of his first tour, LT Ernst received orders to the destroyer USS HIGGINS (DDG 76) to serve as her Navigator and Executive Department Head. As Navigator, LT Ernst completed an 18 month Major Maintenance Period, Navigation Certification, a full training cycle and a homeport shift from San Diego to Yokosuka, conducting over 60 sea and anchor details onboard HIGGINS and as the acting Navigator onboard USS O’KANE (DDG 77).
LT Ernst reported to Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps unit at the University of Idaho in September of 2021 where he is serving as assistant professor of Naval science, Surface Warfare Officer Instructor and Executive Officer.