Seventh Coast Guard District to Get New Admiral

MIAMI – A change of command ceremony is scheduled for the commander of the Coast Guard’s Seventh District at Air Station Miami in Opa Locka, Fla., Friday at 10 a.m.

During the change of command ceremony, Rear Adm. Robert S. Branham, previously the Assistant Commandant for Resources and Chief Financial Officer at Coast Guard Headquarters, will assume the responsibilities from Rear Adm. David W. Kunkel as commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District and Director of Homeland Security Task Force-Southeast.

Kunkel, District Commander since April 2006, will retire from the Coast Guard at a ceremony to be held at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored event preserved by the rich heritage of naval tradition. It is a custom that is formal and following military protocol, is designed to strengthen the respect for the continuity of command that is vital to any military organization. The culmination of the ceremony is reached when both officers read their orders, face one another, salute, and transfer responsibility of command. This provides the entire command with the knowledge that the officer directed by proper authority is taking command and an opportunity to witness this transfer of responsibility.

The Seventh Coast Guard District, headquartered in Miami, is a 1.8 million square mile area of responsibility that encompasses the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean basin. The district comprises six sectors and three major air stations. The district is also home to the two busiest ports in the nation, with more than 4 million visitors per year.

In fiscal year 2007, Coast Guard crews from the Seventh District interdicted nearly 2,200 undocumented migrants, seized more than 77,690 pounds of cocaine and marijuana bound for U.S. shores, and responded to nearly 10,000 search-and-rescue cases – about 20 percent of the entire Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard is the nation’s lead federal agency for Maritime Homeland Security, and is charged with reducing terrorism-related risk in the maritime domain. The Coast Guard carries out this awesome responsibility by working with other federal, state and local law enforcement partners to verify compliance with all federal statues and regulations in both the port area as well as on vessels at sea.

Coast Guardsmen’s service does not stop at the water’s edge. Serving as tutors, coaches and mentors; building or refurbishing homes and schools for those in need; or working through numerous community, church or local agencies, Coast Guardsmen make a difference in their communities.

Through the performance of a wide variety of missions and essential duties, Coast Guard men and women are standing the watch!

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