February 25, 2003
Ridge 'Change Watch' of Coast Guard
At a historic a
'Change of Watch' ceremony at the D.C. Stadium-Armory, U.S. Secretary of
Transportation Norman Y. Mineta today transferred leadership of the U.S. Coast
Guard to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, formally recognizing the
change in civilian leadership over a military organization.
morning is an historic occasion for both the Coast Guard and the Department of
Transportation. The explosion of
maritime drug traffic, mass movement of illegal migrants, a new sensibility and
responsibility for the environment, the threat to our ports -- all of these
missions came to maturity during the Coast Guard's tenure at the Department.
And in each of those missions, as in other longstanding challenges like
search and rescue and marine safety, the Coast Guard measured up," said
Secretary Mineta. "Now the Coast
Guard must be ready for this new challenge of working within the new Department
of Homeland Security.
the Coast Guard, Secretary Mineta said, "As you move today, you do so in
response to a perilous time in our Nation's history and at a pivotal moment in
the Coast Guard's history. The
Nation is turning to the United States coast Guard for protection from this
maritime threat. You will be called on to protect this homeland in ways in which
the blueprints are only now being developed.
Your answer must be the one you have given throughout your history:
Semper Paratus -- Always Ready.
became Service Secretary of the Coast Guard when he was sworn is as U.S.
Secretary of Transportation on Jan. 25, 2001.
Since that time he oversaw the Coast Guard's response to the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including developing the Sea Marshal Program,
Maritime Safety and Security Teams, and expanding the number and mission of
Coast Guard Port Security Units. Secretary
Mineta also strongly supported Coast Guard modernization projects that will
replace major cutters, aircraft and the national coastal maritime communications
system and he successfully championed the largest increase for Coast Guard operating expenses
since World War II.
want to personally thank Secretary Mineta for his leadership and support of the
Coast Guard over the past two years. His
commitment to our service has been outstanding," said Adm. Thomas H. Collins,
Commandant of the Coast Guard. "I
look forward to serving Secretary Ridge and becoming a part of the new
Department of Homeland Security, where we bring a unique mixture of military,
maritime safety and maritime security capabilities."
The 'Change of
Watch' ceremony is similar to a Change of Command, a time-honored military
tradition that formally restates to the officers and crew the continuity of the
authority of command. Like the
Change of Command, this Change of Watch represents a transfer of oversight of
the Coast Guard from Secretary Mineta to Secretary Ridge.
Coast Guard's unique military and maritime mission will be a cornerstone of
the Department of Homeland Security. Their
fundamental responsibilities - preparedness, protection, response and
recovery-- cut across all facets of the Department's mission," said
Secretary Ridge. "Secretary
Mineta's stewardship personifies the very spirit and attitude of the men and
women of the Coast Guard."
25, 2002, President Bush signed legislation creating the Department of Homeland
Security to meet terrorist
threats against Americans at home.
Bringing together the Coast Guard and over 20 federal agencies, it is the
largest and most complex government reorganization since the creation of the
Department of Defense. The Coast Guard will formally change departments on March 1.
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