Capt. Todd Vance took over command of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter James (WMSL 754) from Capt. Jeffrey Randall in a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Base Charleston, Thursday.
Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area presided over the event.
Vance is arriving from Coast Guard Atlantic Area where he served as the chief of intelligence. He is a native of Fairfax, Virginia. He graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1996, and his first assignment was as a deck watch officer and first lieutenant on the USCGC Tampa.
His other afloat assignments include USCGC Farallon, Manitou, Key Biscayne, Legare. His shore side assignments include executive assistant to the Assistant Commandant for Intelligence, Plans and Policy Division chief for Technical Intelligence, Office of Law Enforcement 7th District, Office of Cutter Forces, Intelligence Coordination Center, and executive assistant for the Deputy Commandant for Operations.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in management from the Coast Guard Academy and a Master of Science in strategic intelligence from the National Defense Intelligence College. Currently he is working on his master’s in business administration. He is also a permanent cutterman and a licensed merchant mariner.
Randall is departing to Coast Guard Atlantic Area is scheduled to become the 7th District Chief of Staff. He took command of James, following tours on USCGC Diligence, Walnut, Staten Island, Ironwood, and Rush. His shore side tours include chief, Atlantic Area Operational Forces overseeing all major cutters, Deployable Specialized Forces, boat forces, and aviation forces supporting Coast Guard missions from the Rocky Mountains to the Arabian Gulf, spanning five Coast Guard Districts and 40 states. He also served as the Coast Guard liaison officer to the Chief of Naval Operations, Operations, Plans and Strategy, (N3/N5) staff, assistant branch chief for enforcement in the Coast Guard’s 5th District, and the executive officer of the North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center.
A native of Texas, he graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. He also holds a Master of Marine Affairs degree from the University of Washington’s School of Marine Affairs where he was awarded the school’s McKernan Prize for his thesis work. He also completed a Federal Executive Fellowship at the Brookings Institution.
The change-of-command ceremony is a revered military tradition, which formally restates the continuity and authority of command. It is a formal custom conducted before the assembled crew, and confirms to the men and women of the unit that the authority of command is maintained. The ceremony is a transfer of total responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another.
James launched, in Pascagoula, Mississippi, May 3, 2014, and was commissioned in Boston Aug. 8, 2015. The cutter served as a command and control platform in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2017 to aid in Hurricane Maria response operations.
The James’ namesake, Capt. Joshua James, is likely the most celebrated lifesaver in the world, credited with saving hundreds of lives from the age of 15 when he first joined the Massachusetts Humane Society until his death at the age of 75 while on duty with the U.S. Life-Saving Service.
The NSCs feature advanced command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; aviation support facilities; stern cutter boat launch; and long-endurance station keeping. The 418-foot cutters have an endurance of 60 to 90 days and can serve as operational-level headquarters for complex law-enforcement, defense and national security missions involving Coast Guard and multiple partner agency participation. They are replacing the 1960s-era 378-foot high-endurance cutters.
Eight NSCs are currently in service. Coast Guard cutters Hamilton and James are stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, and Coast Guard cutters Bertholf, Waesche, Stratton, and Munro are stationed in Alameda, California. Kimball and Midgett recently joined the fleet in Honolulu, Hawaii. Stone and Calhoun are under construction will join the other East Coast-based NSCs to keep pace with the dynamic security environment in the region, change the character of maritime operations, and strengthen maritime governance while supporting strategic partners.