Coast Guard receives new Sector San Juan commander in Puerto Rico

From left to right: Capt. Drew. W. Pearson, Sector San Juan commander, salutes Rear Adm. William Baumgartner, Coast Guard Seventh District commander, and Capt. Eduardo Pino, outgoing Sector San Juan commander, as Pearson assumes command of Sector San Juan Friday at Coast Guard Base San Juan. (Photo by Ricardo Castrodad, Sector San Juan public affairs specialist)

Photo by Ricardo Castrodad, Sector San Juan public affairs specialist

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a new commander for Coast Guard operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, following a change of command ceremony Friday at the Coast Guard base in La Puntilla, Old San Juan.

Rear Adm. William Baumgartner, Coast Guard’s Seventh District commander, presided over the ceremony as Capt. Drew W. Pearson, previously the Chief of the Seventh Coast Guard District’s Incident Management Branch in Miami, assumed command responsibilities for Sector San Juan from Capt. Eduardo Pino.

“I feel honored for the opportunity to lead the men and women of Sector San Juan in one of the Coast Guard’s most challenging areas of responsibility,” said Pearson, Sector San Juan Commander. “The Coast Guard will continue to aggressively work and strengthen relationships with Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands’ federal law enforcement and emergency response agencies and the maritime industry to save lives, protect the environment and better secure our nation’s maritime border.”

Pino, Sector San Juan’s commander since July 2008, is headed to Miami as the new Seventh Coast Guard District’s Chief of Response operations.

“It was a true honor and privilege serving the people in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while leading some of the finest men and women in the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Pino, outgoing Sector San Juan Commander. “The experience gained and the relationships forged will always be remembered among the best experiences of my 27-year professional career.”

Over Capt. Pino’s three-year-tour as the Sector San Juan Commander, Coast Guard crews interdicted 1,306 migrants, approximately 12,000 pounds of marijuana and 42,000 pounds of cocaine, with a street value of approximately $471 million, and saved over 255 lives and $300 million dollars in property. Capt. Pino heavily engaged local, federal and international partnerships strengthening joint interoperability and international relations in the Caribbean and the success of the Biometrics at Sea Program, which resulted in the conviction of 245 migrants who attempted to enter the U.S. illegally and an 89 percent drop in illegal migrant flow since its inception.

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 and the opportunity to witness the peaceful transition of command.

Sector San Juan, headquartered in La Puntilla, Old San Juan, is a 1.3 million square mile area of responsibility that encompasses the eastern Caribbean. The Sector comprises six shore units including Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla, one of three major air stations in the Coast Guard’s Seventh District, and two of the busiest ports in the nation, with more than three million visitors per year.

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 statutes and regulations in both the port area as well as on vessels at sea.

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