In a change of command ceremony held today at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington, D.C., Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr. assumed command as the 24th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, relieving Admiral Thad Allen and marking the conclusion of the transition to a new leadership team for the USCG.
“I am honored to serve as the 24th commandant of the Coast Guard,” said Papp. “When I assumed the duties from Admiral Thad Allen at noon today, it concluded a series of key rotations and marked the setting of a new watch to lead our service.”
During the ceremony, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates awarded Allen the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano presided over the change of command and awarded Allen the Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal.
While today’s ceremony marks the end of his term as commandant, Allen will continue to serve as the National Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, managing an unprecedented response effort.
“I have the utmost confidence in Admiral Papp’s and Admiral Brice-O’Hara’s ability to lead the Coast Guard during a period of tremendous changes, challenges and opportunities,” said Allen. “The new leadership team is well equipped to continue to elevate the value of the U.S. Coast Guard to America and the global maritime community.”
Papp reports to Coast Guard Headquarters from Portsmouth, Va., where he served as commander of Coast Guard Atlantic Area since 2008. In this position, he served as the operational commander for all Coast Guard missions from the Rocky Mountains east to central Asia, covering more than half of the world including the recent Haitian earthquake disaster response, Coast Guard support to Operation Iraqi Freedom and counter-drug operations in the Caribbean.
Allen became the 23rd commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on May 25, 2006. He has led the largest component of the Department of Homeland Security, comprised of 42,000 men and women on active duty, 7,000 civilians, 8,000 reservists and 34,000 volunteer Coast Guard Auxiliarists. Allen’s leadership in times of crisis includes the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, when he served as the principal federal officer responsible for response and recovery operations. Allen has led the Coast Guard through a remarkable recapitalization effort to replace an aging fleet of cutters, aircraft and sensors, as well as a modernization program to better organize, train, equip and deploy Coast Guard personnel to meet the challenges of the 21st century.