Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston personnel held a change-of-command ceremony in La Porte, Texas, Friday.
During the ceremony, Capt. Jason Smith transferred command of Sector Houston-Galveston to Capt. Keith Donohue, who previously served as the sector’s deputy commander.
Rear Adm. Richard Timme, commander of the Coast Guard’s Eighth District, presided over the ceremony.
“Over the last three years, I have had the honor and privilege of serving with the 1,500 women and men that protect the nation’s largest ports,” said Smith. “This team has remained always ready as we prevent and respond to all hazards in the United States’ busiest waterways.”
Following the change-of-command ceremony, Smith retired from the Coast Guard, marking 30 years of service.
Originally from Plainedge, New York, Donohue’s previous operational assignments include deputy sector commander of Sector Long Island Sound in New Haven, Connecticut, commanding officer of the Pacific Strike Team in Novato, California, response department head at Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur, Texas, and facility branch chief, marine and environmental protection branch chief, and investigations officer at Marine Safety Office Providence, Rhode Island.
“I’ve enjoyed a blessed career in the Coast Guard that has taken me and my family around the world, meeting many wonderful people along the way,” said Donohue. “I’m excited to assume command of Sector Houston-Galveston, one of the largest, busiest, and most dynamic Coast Guard units in the United States.”
The change-of-command ceremony marks a transfer of total responsibility and authority from one individual to another. It is a time-honored tradition, conducted before the assembled crew, honored guests and dignitaries, to formally demonstrate the continuity of the authority within a command.
Sector Houston-Galveston employs 1,562 active duty, civilian, and reserve personnel across the sector, three marine safety units, five multi-mission small boat stations, two aids to navigation stations, and six cutters to ensure the safety and security of the area. Sector Houston Galveston’s area of responsibility encompasses five of the 20 busiest ports, including the Ports of Houston (largest port in the nation with 268 million tons/year), Beaumont (fourth single largest), Lake Charles (12th), Texas City (15th), Port Arthur (17th), Freeport, and Galveston, as well as 247 miles of Gulf Intracoastal Waterways. Together these ports and waterways account for 25% of the total U.S. tonnage by ships and contribute over $1 trillion to nation’s economy. These ports include the nation’s top three largest refineries, the fourth busiest cruise ship port, 57% of the Nations’ strategic petroleum reserves, and a 56 square nautical mile National Marine Sanctuary.