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Coast Guard Pacific Area Change of Command, Coast Guard Island, Alameda

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  • Phelps Hobart
    The Navy League was well represented by a contingent led by Don Hale, Region President. The Change of Command, subsequent retirement ceremony, and luncheon
    Message 1 of 2 , May 30, 2008
      The Navy League was well represented by a contingent led by Don Hale, Region President. The Change of Command, subsequent retirement ceremony, and luncheon reception, May 29th, were splendid well orchestrated events - very moving, emotional at times. The weather was cooperative, blue sky, scattered clouds, and a temperate climate. The USCG Cutter Sherman dressed with signal flags formed an impressive backdrop. A reception followed on the lawn outside Gresham Hall.
      I have never seen so many senior Coast Guard officers in one place before - probably more officers regardless of rank than I ever saw during my time in the Navy. Admiral Thad W. Allen, Commandant, flew out for the occasion. He and Vice Admiral Wurster were classmates at the USCG Academy, class of 1971.
      More happened than I can possibly described.
      Vice Admiral Wurster followed an engineering track but as Commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, he displayed that he is a diplomat as well. Several representatives of the foreign diplomatic corps were in attendance in recognition of the good will he spread throughout the Eastern Pacific. It was on the Cutter Sherman that he visited several countries so that ship is special to him. As part of the ceremony his three star burgee flying from the yardarm was struck and presented to him.
      Immediately following the Change of Command was his retirement ceremony. Then the reception with refreshments and a well prepared luncheon.
      Vice Admiral Wurster and his wife George Ann were presented with numerous gifts. From the Santa Clara Council, President William Schultz and his wife Sally presented a very special framed art piece - an original pencil drawing by Sally of the Lightkeeper's House on Yerba Buena Island - the Wursters' home. From the Oakland Council, President Lou Lozano and past president Bob Castle presented a lovely book "Above San Francisco."
      Vice Admiral Wurster is a Distinguished Eagle Scout. At the reception, he was presented with a four star Sea Scout burgee. He will become the National Commodore in a few months. The presentation was made by Jimmie Homburge, National Commodore, and Charles Holmes, National Director, who flew up from Texas for the occasion.
      I could go on - rest assured it was all very special. If you care to meet Vice Admiral Pekoske, save the date of Monday, 8 December 2008. I have invited him to be the Pacific Merchant Marine Council's guest of honor and guest speaker at the council's installation luncheon aboard the SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN. Admiral Wurster was the guest of honor and guest speaker at last December's installation luncheon.
      Phelps Hobart
      Web Yeoman, Pacific Central Region, NLUS
      President, Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS



      Coast Guard Pacific Area Change of Command

      ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A former aide to the Commander of the 11th Coast Guard District assumed command of the Coast Guard's Pacific Area on Coast Guard Island in a change of command ceremony 1015 Thursday, May 29th at the base pier.


      Vice Adm. David Pekoske, who spent the last two years as the Coast Guard's Assistant Commandant for Operations in Washington, D.C., replaced Vice Adm. Charles Wurster, who retired after a 37-year Coast Guard career.


      Prior to reporting as Assistant Commandant for Operations, Pekoske was Commander, First Coast Guard District, and Commander, Maritime Defense Command One in Boston, where he was responsible for all Coast Guard missions in the Northeast.


      Pekoske has commanded a number of shore units, served aboard two Coast Guard cutters and was a planning officer on the 1984 Summer Olympics Task Force.


      Pekoske graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., in 1977 with a bachelor of science degree in ocean engineering. He graduated in 1989 with a master's degree in public administration from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, in New York. In 1997 he graduated with a master of business administration degree from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass.


      His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Coast Guard Commendation Medal with gold star, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal with three gold stars and the Commandant Letter of Commendation.

      The following article is a November 2006 piece but it explains what is the Commander, Pacific Area does. There is going to be a future change in organizational structure which Vice Admiral Pekoske, USCG Academy, class of 1977, will implement.

      New Coast Guard leader pushes full speed ahead

      Wurster sees new kind of command in Alameda
      By Jeff Mitchell, MEDIANEWS STAFF
      Article Created: 11/08/2006 02:50:20 AM PST

      Looking west over the Oakland Estuary from his second-story office window on Alameda's Coast Guard Island, Vice Adm. Charles Wurster gazes far beyond the nearby small-craft marinas.

      When Wurster looks out the window, he sees the beginning of a 74-million-square-mile area of responsibility that largely he alone must answer for.


      Earlier this year, Wurster returned to Alameda to assume command of the Coast Guard's massive Pacific Area, overseeing 27,000 active, reserve, civilian and auxiliary personnel.


      "It's certainly a big challenge. And it's an honor," Wurster said of the job he began in May.


      But for the three-star officer, a 57-year-old Texas native, returning to the Island's comfortable confines is nothing new. As he rose through the ranks, Wurster found himself rotated frequently through the Alameda military facility.


      Now, however, with the drastic changes made since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Wurster finds himself helping to run a different kind of Coast Guard. Once a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Coast Guard is now a unit of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The changeover, Wurster said, has led to a reshaped military force with more teeth, some say.


      Since moving to Homeland Security, Wurster said, Coast Guard units — both afloat and airborne — have reassessed the kind of weapons they need to stay ahead of today's brand of militant-extremist bad guy.


      "We're still doing our traditional missions: search and rescue, environmental protection, counter-drug and counter-illegal immigration. But now that we're under Homeland Security, our operating tempo has increased," Wurster said. "While we've always been an armed service, many of our airborne and seaborne assets are carrying a good deal more firepower than they have in the past."


      While he relies heavily on his staff of subordinate flag officers, Wurster says he has learned during the years to listen carefully to people, regardless of their rank or status.


      "I draw upon people's intelligence and expertise. Period," Wurster said.


      One of the vice admiral's increasing roles is that of diplomat, as his crews now commonly interact with foreign navies.


      And as nations continue to band together and share information, the Coast Guard is increasingly playing a larger role in coordinating those joint efforts, Wurster said.


      One such recent operation saw Alameda-based cutters working alongside Chinese enforcement vessels to protect fisheries in the north Pacific Ocean.


      Wurster has his own fair share of anti-terrorism efforts going on in the Bay Area.


      Not only has the Coast Guard increased weaponry across its fleet but it has armed helicopters for the first time and has bought a series of armed "fast-response" boats that would put most modern water ski boats to shame.


      The Coast Guard has even invested in a series of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to help with over-the-horizon and other surveillance-type operations.


      The service has stepped up information-sharing with the world's container fleet operators. This means Wurster's officers know what's aboard a cargo ship even before it clears the breakwater of some foreign port.


      And once the ship arrives in an American port, other technologies are deployed to ensure that what the vessel's operators say they had onboard when they departed is still aboard ship.


      Still, while anti-terrorism technology is growing, the reality is only a small percentage of container vessel traffic is physically searched upon arrival. And in recent years, distribution of Homeland Security money to facilities such as the Port of Oakland have been inconsistent at best, to the consternation of local officials.


      Undaunted, Wurster says that's where increased information sharing with the 50 or so maritime nations in his command area comes into play.

      "The challenge before us is to find a balance where we can be sure that we're doing everything we can to protect our ports while at the same time not overly encumbering the movement of trade between nations," Wurster said. "So it's in everyone's best interest to work together."


      Perhaps because Wurster has long been known to do more with less is why his 35-year career has seemingly always been on the rise. Wurster's boss and fellow 1971 Coast Guard Academy graduate Commandant Thad Allen says it's Wurster's ingenuity, plus a reputation of looking out for the men and women in his charge, that has propelled his career.


      He "is an extraordinarily talented leader who has an outstanding record," Allen said in a recent e-mail. "I rely on his advice and counsel. He is a caring leader who brings out the best in his people."


      Wurster is just one of four vice admirals in the service who answer to the commandant.


      Philip Coyle, a senior adviser to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Defense Information, echoed Allen and added Wurster has a knack for being a decisive commander.


      Coyle pointed to Wurster's recent decision to quickly relieve, or fire, the skipper of the Coast Guard cutter Healy after two of its crew members died during a training dive in the Arctic Ocean this summer.


      "Generally speaking, the decision to relieve a commander is not done this quickly," Coyle said. "However, Wurster stated that he no longer had confidence in the Healy's commander and decided that it was in the best interest of the ship's crew to relieve him."


      Exactly how the two divers perished is unknown, and the accident remains under investigation. Coyle said Wurster has also displayed a keen sense of community relations. He said the vice admiral was credited with deftly handling a recent controversy over the reopening of a historic lighthouse in Hawaii. Coyle said Wurster stepped in and negotiated an agreement to allow the lighthouse to open as a museum, but only to schools, colleges and tourists on a scheduled basis.


      For Wurster, the war on terrorism is being fought these days as often on the telephone and the computer as on the high seas. He and others struggle to find replacement parts to keep the service's aging fleet of 378-foot, high-endurance cutters running, most of which are now 30 or more years old. Four of the ships are home-ported in Alameda.


      "We intend to keep them running at the same tempo," Wurster said of the Hamilton-class vessels.


      Fortunately, the Coast Guard is set to soon unveil the first of a new class of ships, dubbed National Security Cutters, or NSCs. The new cutters are part of a multibillion-dollar spending plan by the Coast Guard to modernize and replace its aging fleet of ships and aircraft.


      The first ship of the new class, the Bertholf, is scheduled to be home-ported in Alameda and is expected to arrive sometime in December or January, officials said.


      While 40 feet longer and 12 feet wider than the Hamiltons they are replacing, the NSCs are more agile, can stay at sea longer and feature a flight deck capable of carrying two helicopters or a combination of a helicopter and unmanned drones.


      The sleek cutters bristle with computer-controlled defensive and offensive firepower as well as state-of-the-art radar and communications systems.


      Wurster said he is looking forward to Pacific Area crews putting the new cutter through its paces, and may well join those crews on the Bertholf's first few voyages.


      "The real joy in going to sea is that you get to see your junior people doing their thing — the things we have trained them to do," he said. "There's a lot of pride in that. Exercising the ship and doing the drills. It's all quite an invigorating experience."



      US Coast Guard Maintenance Logistics Command  Logo3 Star Admiral Flag

      Vice Admiral Charles D. Wurster

      Commander, Pacific Area / Commander, Defense Force West
      United States Coast Guard

      Vice Admiral Charles D. Wurster

      Vice Admiral Charles D. Wurster assumed his duties as Commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area in May 2006. The Area of Operations for this command encompasses over 73 million square miles throughout the Pacific Basin to the Far East. Vice Admiral Wurster oversees the operation of units performing missions in maritime safety, maritime mobility, protection of natural resources, maritime security, homeland security, and national defense.


      Prior to this assignment, he served as Commander of the Fourteenth Coast Guard District in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also served as Assistant Commandant for Acquisition at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C. Acquisition projects under Vice Admiral Wurster’s oversight included Rescue 21, a complete renewal of the National Distress and Response System; replacement of 180 aircraft, cutters, patrol boats, and motor lifeboats; plus acquisition of hundreds of fast response boats.


      Vice Admiral Wurster’s other recent assignments include Chief of Staff to Commander Coast Guard Pacific Area, Alameda, California; Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Integrated Support Command Kodiak, Alaska; Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Facilities Design and Construction Center Pacific, Seattle, Washington; and Chief of the Civil Engineering Division, Maintenance and Logistics Command Pacific, Alameda, California.


      As a junior officer, Vice Admiral Wurster served as a Deck Watch Officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter STEADFAST, St. Petersburg, Florida, and as Commanding Officer of Loran-A Station at Cape Sarichef, Alaska. Vice Admiral Wurster has also been assigned to Civil Engineering duties at the Thirteenth Coast Guard District, Seattle, Washington; the Eighth Coast Guard District, New Orleans, Louisiana.; Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C.; and as Facilities Engineer at Training Center Petaluma, California.


      Vice Admiral Wurster is a 1971 honors graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. He received a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1976 and is a 1993 graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He is a registered Professional Engineer and is a Fellow of the Society of American Military Engineers. His awards include Legion of Merit (four awards) and the Society of American Military Engineers Sverdrup Medal. He is also the recipient of nine unit and meritorious unit commendations.

      US Coast Guard CG-3 Logo2 Star Admiral  Flag

      Vice Admiral David P. Pekoske

      Assistant Commandant for Operations
      US Coast Guard

      Rear Admiral David P. Pekoske Vice Admiral David P. Pekoske assumed command the Coast Guard Pacific Area 29 May 2008. Prior to that assignment he was assigned as the Assistant Commandant for Operations in July 2006. His responsibilities in that position included management oversight of a wide range of Coast Guard programs essential to public safety, national and homeland security. These include: Maritime Safety, Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, and National Defense. The Maritime Safety program includes search and rescue, while Law Enforcement and Homeland Security encompasses illegal drug and migrant smuggling, living marine resource protection, counter terrorism, and enforcement of all federal laws on U. S. navigable waters. The National Defense mission requires orchestrating the activity of Coast Guard forces to support Department of Defense plans and goals by providing unique and non-redundant capabilities to Combatant Commanders. He also directs the allocation and distribution of Coast Guard forces (aircraft, vessels, shore facilities and operational command infrastructure) for operational employment. 

      Prior to reporting as the Assistant Commandant for Operations, Rear Admiral Pekoske served as the Commander, First Coast Guard District and Commander, Maritime Defense Command One where he was responsible for all Coast Guard missions in the Northeast. 


      Rear Admiral Pekoske's other career assignments include Executive Assistant to the Commandant, Deputy Chief, Office of Programs; Commander, Coast Guard Group/Marine Safety Office Long Island Sound, based in New Haven, CT; Commander, Coast Guard Group Shinnecock, based on Long Island in Hampton Bays, NY; Commander, Coast Guard Group Milwaukee; Program Reviewer in the Office of Programs; Planning Officer, Coast Guard 1984 Summer Olympics Task Force; Aide to the Commander of the Eleventh Coast Guard District; Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Cutter Point Evans; and Deck Watch Officer, Coast Guard Cutter Dependable. 


      Commissioned in 1977 following graduation from the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, Rear Admiral Pekoske holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ocean Engineering. He is a 1989 graduate of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University with a Masters Degree in Public Administration. Rear Admiral Pekoske graduated from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Master of Business Administration Degree in 1997.


      Rear Admiral Pekoske's personal decorations include the Legion of Merit (2), Meritorious Service Medal (5), the Coast Guard Commendation Medal (2), the Coast Guard Achievement Medal (4) and the Commandant's Letter of Commendation.

    • Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS
      Re: Coast Guard Pacific Area Change of Command, Coast Guard Island, Alameda http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PMMC-NLUS/message/189 You will find on the front page
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 6, 2008

        Re: Coast Guard Pacific Area Change of Command, Coast Guard Island, Alameda


        You will find on the front page of http://www.navyleague.org  "Navy League contingent attends Coast Guard Ceremony"

        It leads one to http://www.navyleague.org/public_relations/june2008/060208-cgpa-change-of-command-alameda-052908.php coverage of the event and notice that Vice Admiral Pekoske has been invited to be the Pacific Merchant Marine Council's guest of honor and guest speaker at our installation luncheon aboard the SS JEREMIAH O'BRIEN, Monday, 8 December 2008. Vice Admiral Wurster was the guest of honor and guest speaker at last December's installation luncheon.

        (916) 739-6949 or cell (916) 955-3972

        PS  Still taking reservations - pay at the door - for our luncheon Monday, 9 June, at Quinn's, Oakland.
        Already working on the program and considering what would be a good venue for our Monday, 8 September, luncheon.
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