Adm. Linda Fagan was installed Friday as the first woman to serve as vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and the first woman four-star admiral in the history of the service.
Fagan relieved Adm. Charles Ray in the ceremony at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington. On Wednesday in Alameda, Calif., Rear Adm. Peter W. Gautier relieved Fagan as the acting Pacific Area commander in a ceremony presided over by Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz.
Fagan was nominated by President Joe Biden to the No. 2 role at USCG on April 19. The Senate confirmed her Thursday.
“Thank you Adm. Ray for your service and your extraordinary leadership. You have made a tremendous, and long-lasting impact on our great service and we will strive to build upon your extraordinary work,” Schultz said. “Adm. Fagan, it is an honor to welcome you as the first woman to serve as a four-star admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard, and I congratulate you as you assume the duties as our 32nd Vice Commandant. I am proud to be part of this historic moment and look forward to leading the Coast Guard alongside of you.”
Fagan is a 1985 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and is the Coast Guard’s first-ever Gold Ancient Trident, the officer with the longest service record in marine safety.
Biden noted Fagan’s nomination in his May 19 commencement remarks at the Coast Guard Academy, stressing that “we need to see more women at the highest levels of command.”
“We have to make sure that women have the chance to succeed and thrive throughout their careers,” he said. “There’s a saying that we use in a different context — a Chinese saying that says, ‘Women hold up half the world.’ It’s an absolutely stupid position not to make sure they represent at least half of what we do.”
Ray retired after 40 years of Coast Guard service, with numerous awards including the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medal, five Legion of Merit Medals, one Bronze Star Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, one Coast Guard Air Medal, three Coast Guard Commendation Medals, and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas presented him with the Department of Homeland Security Distinguished Service Medal at his retirement.
Ray had served as vice commandant since May 2018, and previously served as deputy commandant for operations beginning in August 2016. He is a 1981 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and served at six Coast Guard Air Stations from Alaska to the Caribbean. As vice commandant, he led recapitalization of the Coast Guard fleet.
“I am extremely proud of the dedication and resiliency I have seen throughout our service and throughout my career,” said Ray. “It has been an honor to serve with the men and women of the Coast Guard and it is my privilege to pass the reigns of vice commandant to Adm. Fagan, a true trailblazer and inspiration to so many.”