Coast Guard 5th District to welcome new commander

PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The Coast Guard 5th District is scheduled to welcome a new district commander during a change of command ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Base Support Unit Portsmouth.

Being relieved is Rear Adm. Wayne Justice, who has served as the 5th District’s commander since June 2009. The district includes the navigable waters from the middle of New Jersey to the South Carolina border.

Throughout his career, Justice has been involved in the Coast Guard’s numerous mission areas including waterways security, search and rescue, and migrant interdiction. He served on six Coast Guard cutters, commanding four.

One of his most prominent achievements is his unofficial record within the counterdrug mission. The Coast Guard’s 5th District believes that Justice has set an individual record with his cutters’ participation in 40 drug seizures throughout his career. These busts totaled, seized more than 140 tons of marijuana and cocaine by the Coast Guard.

The first drug bust he worked was in 1979 involving a Jamaican flagged fishing vessel off of Cape Cod, Mass. that was running tons of marijuana in the middle of winter. In the early 1980s, Justice participated in dozens of multi-ton marijuana seizures immediately off the Florida coast, which included having his cutters rammed and his using disabling machine-gun fire to stop the smuggler’s vessels. Later in his career, Justice participated in cases involving traffickers dropping drugs from aircraft and using sophisticated equipment to find hidden smuggling compartments on the vessels. His last drug bust on the Coast Guard Cutter Munro was a 10-ton cocaine seizure from a Mexican fishing vessel in 2000. Justice further contributed to the counterdrug mission by testifying numerous times on Capitol Hill. His testimony contributed to the Drug Trafficking Vessel Interdiction Act of 2008, which outlawed the use the semi-submersibles that have been the latest technology resorted to by drug smugglers.

Rear Adm. William “Dean” Lee will relieve Justice as the 5th District commander.

Lee will report to the 5th District following his most recent flag assignment as commander of the Deployable Operations Group, headquartered in Arlington, Va. As the DOG commander, Lee directed 27 deployable, specialized force units and more than 3,000 Coast Guard personnel operating in support of response, recovery and defense operations worldwide.

Prior to the DOG, Lee served as chief of staff at the 7th District in Miami, where he was promoted to flag rank in May 2009. A specialist in boat operations and search and rescue, Lee has served in a variety of assignments along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts. The 5th District will be his sixth command assignment.

Other operational assignments Lee has served in include commander of Sector North Carolina; Group Fort Macon, N.C.; and Group Monterey, Calif.; commanding officer of Station Atlantic City, N.J.; and assistant operations officer at Group St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It’s been an honor to serve as the Fifth District commander, and a real joy to live in Portsmouth, a Coast Guard City,” said Justice. “The Fifth District’s men and women have performed the Coast Guard’s missions superbly here in the middle Atlantic states, in Haiti, and now in the Gulf of Mexico.”

“I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of Admiral Justice; as he is one of the most passionate leaders I’ve ever known,” said Lee. “Suffice it to say, I’ve got some big shoes to fill.”

Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., Coast Guard commandant will preside over Justice’s retirement ceremony, and Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, Atlantic Area commander will preside over the change of command ceremony.

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