By Kimball Livingston Posted April 22, 2014
And not really, of course, but it’s not all that often that the Coast Guard’s Commander of the Pacific Area, Defense Force West, is promoted to the office of Commandant. That part doesn’t become official until ceremonies in Washington, D.C. a few weeks hence, but—
Today, the process began with a Change of Command ceremony at Coast Guard Island, Alameda, in which Vice Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant-to-be, handed off the Pacific Area command to Vice Admiral Charlie Ray.
We’re in good hands. In the pic we see, left to right, Zukunft, Admiral Robert Papp, Commandant, and Ray. While the new Commandant wrangles Washington on behalf of the service, Vice Admiral Ray will be in charge of 13,000 Coast Guard personnel and their missions covering 74 million square miles of ocean, encompassing six of the seven continents and touching 71 countries.
No small matter.
And these stories generally begin here, in the leadership laboratory known as the USCGC Eagle. You can read my story about the Eagle by clicking here.
The Commandant to be offers these parting words:
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the communities of Alameda, Oakland and San Francisco. My wife and I have called the Bay Area home for the past two years, and have been honored to call you all our neighbors while serving as the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area Commander.
These communities have embraced my family just as they have embraced all of the 4,000 Coast Guard members and their families that are assigned here and call the Bay Area home.
We work closely with our partner agencies here in the Bay Area to maintain a 24/7 readiness and response stance against threats affecting national security, as well as safety of life and property at sea not only in the Bay Area, but throughout the 74 millions of square miles in the PACAREA area of responsibility, placing the communities of the Bay Area on the front lines of Coast Guard operations.
The Bay Area Coast Guard is comprised of boat stations, a buoy tender, an air station, training centers, three national security cutters and regional headquarters commands that coordinate operations throughout California and the entire Pacific. Our national security cutters, Bertholf, Waesche and Stratton, provide long-range offshore capabilities and regularly conduct counter-drug patrols off the coasts of Central and South America as well as fisheries patrols in Alaska.
Alameda has a special claim to the Coast Guard family by not only being a Coast Guard City, but by also being home to the first national security cutter, the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf. Each time one of these cutters deploys to the Eastern Pacific for counter illicit trafficking patrols, or north to the Arctic, they sail through the Golden Gate out to sea. But they come home the communities of the Bay Area.
In 2013 we melded as a community to show the world what the Bay Area has to offer by hosting the 34th America’s Cup Race, which was held in the heart of the Port of San Francisco. We worked closely with the event organizer and local agencies that operate on the Bay to create a race route that allowed for a safe and secure race while minimizing the impacts to commercial shipping traffic.
During my time in the Bay Area I have witnessed your outpouring of support when we needed our community the most. Our partner agencies and our communities mourned with us when we remembered both Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne and Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Obendorf. Though the circumstances behind both deaths were very different, it reminds us that our jobs are inherently dangerous and we depend on the support of our community agencies to get the mission done, both while deployed and at home.
As I get prepare for my next adventure as the Commandant of the Coast Guard, I am inspired by the way the Bay Area communities have embraced our Coast Guard shipmates and families. I ask you to join me in welcoming our new Pacific Area Commander, Vice Adm. Charles Ray, as he assumes the mantle of command for the Bay Area’s largest military force. I am truly grateful to have served in such a caring and vibrant region.
Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft
This article was syndicated from BLUE PLANET TIMES