New Commander will lead Eleventh Coast Guard District following change of command ceremony

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Eleventh Coast Guard District changed leadership today during a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Island.

Rear Adm. Joseph Castillo has assumed command of the district from Rear Adm. Paul F. Zukunft.

Castillo, the first known Hispanic-American district commander, arrives from the service’s Headquarters in Washington ,where he was the Director of Response Policy. He oversaw the development of strategic doctrine and accomplished operational maritime missions in the areas of law enforcement, search and rescue, counter-terrorism and defense operations, incident management and preparedness, and the contingency exercises program.

His previous duty assignments include Chief of Staff of the Ninth Coast Guard District in Cleveland, Ohio, and commander of Group New Orleans where he helped lead the Coast Guard’s rescue and evacuation efforts of more than 33,500 people during Hurricane Katrina. He was also officer in charge of Forward Operating Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during Operation Able Manner, and Coast Guard liaison officer on the Multi-National Force in Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy

Castillo is a 1978 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., with a Bachelor of Science degree in management. He also earned his Master of Science degree in Industrial Relations and a Professional Certificate in Human Resources Management from the University of New Haven in Conn. Castillo is also a Distinguished Graduate of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

His military awards and decorations include three Legion of Merit Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, six Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, the 9-11 Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, and numerous others. He also permanently wears the Coast Guard’s boat forces pin.

During the past year under Zukunft’s leadership, the Eleventh District successfully prosecuted 3,022 search and rescue case and saved 576 lives and $14.1 million in property. He directed law enforcement actions in the Eastern Pacific, including the use of armed helicopters to stop drug smuggling vessels, preventing some 125 tons of cocaine valued at $3.5 billion from reaching the United States. Zukunft also directed the covert take down of two self-propelled semi-submersible vessels which provided valuable intelligence to combat a growing threat, and which led to new sweeping legislation allowing the U.S. government to prosecute crews who operate these vessels.

Zukunft will become the Assistant Commandant of Capability at Coast Guard Headquarters. He will be in charge of identifying and providing capabilities, competencies and capacity for the staffing, training, equipping, sustaining and employing Coast Guard forces to meet mission requirements.

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition which formally restates to the officers and enlisted personnel of the command, the continuity and authority of command. It is a formal ritual conducted before the assembled company of the command and it confirms to the men and women of the unit that the authority of the command is maintained. The ceremony is a transfer of total responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another.

The Eleventh Coast Guard District encompasses the states of Calif., Ariz., Nev., and Utah, the coastal and offshore waters out over one thousand miles and the offshore waters of Mexico and Central America down to South America.

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