Change of Watch: Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson thanks Vice Adm. John Currier during the vice commandant change of watch ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger (right) became the 29th vice commandant of the Coast Guard during the event. (U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson thanks Vice Adm. John Currier during the vice commandant change of watch ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger (right) became the 29th vice commandant of the Coast Guard during the event. (U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)

Today, Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger relieved Vice Adm. John Currier as Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard during a change of watch ceremony at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp presided over the ceremony and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson also attended.

The change-of-watch ceremony is a time-honored event preserved by rich heritage of naval tradition. It is a formal custom that is designed to strengthen the respect of authority, which is vital to any military organization. The climax of the ceremony is reached when both members read their orders, face one another, salute and transfer responsibility of the command. This also provides the entire command with the knowledge that the member directed by proper authority is taking command and is an opportunity to witness this transfer of responsibility.

“It has been my honor to serve our nation as the vice commandant,” said Currier. “Thanks to all of my shipmates in this great organization and Semper Paratus.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson presents an award to Vice Adm. John Currier during the vice commandant change of watch ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger became the 29th vice commandant of the Coast Guard during the event. (U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson presents an award to Vice Adm. John Currier during the vice commandant change of watch ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger became the 29th vice commandant of the Coast Guard during the event. (U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley)

The ceremony marked the completion of a distinguished military career that began at Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, Va., in 1976. He was designated a Naval Aviator in 1977 and an Aeronautical Engineer in 1982.

Currier served at six Coast Guard Air Stations throughout his career, highlighted by command of Air Stations Detroit and Miami. Subsequently, he was assigned as Pacific Area Chief of Operations then Pacific Area Chief of Staff.

He was promoted to flag rank in 2005. He then served as Assistant Commandant for Acquisition at Coast Guard Headquarters, then as commander of the 13th District. He assumed the duties of the Coast Guard’s Chief of Staff in 2009, later transitioning to the service’s first Deputy Commandant for Mission Support (DCMS).

Following the ceremony, Currier formally retired from the Coast Guard after nearly 38 years of service.

“Vice Adm. Currier has served our nation with distinction for nearly 38 years and the Coast Guard is safer, more proficient and more capable due to his exceptional leadership,” said Neffenger. “I am truly humbled to follow his impeccable service as Vice Commandant. I wish him fair winds and following seas.”

Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger speaks during the vice commandant change of watch ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Neffenger became the 29th vice commandant of the Coast Guard during the event.  U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger speaks during the vice commandant change of watch ceremony at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, May 20, 2014. Neffenger became the 29th vice commandant of the Coast Guard during the event. U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Neffenger became the 29th Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard after serving as the Deputy Commandant for Operations, responsible for establishing and providing operational strategy, policy, guidance and resources as needed to meet national priorities for Coast Guard missions, programs and services. He was commissioned in 1982 at Officer Candidate School.

Neffenger commanded Sector Los Angeles – Long Beach, Calif.; served as a Fellow to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee; as the Coast Guard Liaison Officer to the Territory of American Samoa; as an engineer on Cutter Gallatin; as Chief of the Office of Budget and Programs at Coast Guard Headquarters.

As a flag officer Neffenger served as Director of the Strategic Management Directorate, was the Deputy National Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the largest and most complex oil spill in the nation’s history and as commander of the 9th District, where he oversaw Coast Guard operations throughout the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Seaway region.

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