Capt. James Spitler relieved Capt. Timothy Barelli as the Coast Guard Sector San Diego commander during a change of command ceremony in San Diego, Thursday.
Rear Adm. Andrew M. Sugimoto, commander, 11th Coast Guard District, presided over the time-honored military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding or flag officer to another.
Spitler assumes command of Sector San Diego after serving as the Chief of Domestic Operations Division, Directorate of Operations, U.S. Northern Command in Colorado.
Spitler’s previous assignments include the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where he earned a masters of arts degree in national security and strategic studies with distinction; commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Houston, Texas, where he was responsible for the Coast Guard aviation response during Hurricane Harvey, saving more than 1,700 lives; Engineering Officer at Sector Corpus Christi, Texas; Medium Range Surveillance Engineering Branch Chief at the Coast Guard’s Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Assistant Engineering Officer and Instructor Pilot at the Coast Guard’s Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama; Instructor Pilot at Air Station Miami, Florida; Navy Flight School in Pensacola, Florida; and operations officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Planetree (WLB-307), a 180-foot seagoing buoy tender home-ported in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Following the change of command ceremony, Barelli retired after 26 years of service.
“Since 1934, the Coast Guard has selflessly served the city of San Diego,” said Capt. James Spitler, commander, Coast Guard Sector San Diego. “We are a part of this legacy and with my guiding principles of people, proficiency, and professionalism we will continue to be Semper Paratus for years to come.”
A native of Pensacola, Florida, Spitler received his commission from the Coast Guard Academy in 1997, and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University.
Coast Guard Sector San Diego began as a Coast Guard Air Patrol detachment on May 4, 1934, for the purpose of preventing smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border. The primary mission soon expanded to include saving life and property as patrolling aircraft were increasingly being diverted for search and rescue missions offshore. Sector San Diego was established in July 2004, combining three separate commands, Activities San Diego, Marine Safety Office San Diego and Air Station San Diego, into a single command performing 10 of the 11 statutory Coast Guard missions.