HONOLULU, Hawaii -- The Coast Guard 14th District held a change of command ceremony bidding farewell to Rear Adm. Vincent B. Atkins and welcoming Rear Adm. Brian K. Penoyer, at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Wednesday.
Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area presided over the ceremony.
Penoyer has served as Atkins’ chief of staff since 2016, advising the district commander on all Coast Guard missions conducted in the central and south Pacific. He is a 2015 recipient of the Coast Guard’s Type I Incident Commander qualification, a native of Chicago, and a University of Chicago graduate.
Penoyer previously served as the commander of Sector Houston-Galveston, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and as the deputy chief of Coast Guard Congressional Affairs, where he led the Service’s nationwide congressional engagement strategy. He was the liaison in the office of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security during the Deepwater Horizon incident and also deployed in support of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. A specialist in coastal operations, he served at Sector Maryland/National Capital Region with responsibility for the Chesapeake Bay and at Sector Jacksonville, where he formulated and led the Coast Guard’s regional response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. In other operational assignments, he inspected foreign and U.S. merchant vessels, led oil spill response teams, and conducted investigations in Alaska during a period of many cruise ship groundings and significant, fatal commercial fishing vessel accidents.
In his first assignment, he deployed throughout Europe and the Middle East during the 1991 Gulf War.
Atkins, a native of San Antonio served as the 14th District commander from May 2015 to May 2018. He will be retiring with more than 36 years of service and returning to Texas.
During Atkins’ tenure as the 14th District commander, he put the national strategy in operation, negotiating and exercising new bilateral law enforcement agreements bolstering stability in a region with 70 percent of its economy dependent on the last healthy tuna fishery. As the U.S. principal to the Quadrilateral Defense Coordinating Group, he raised U.S., Australian, New Zealand, and French cooperation in the region to new levels. Addressing partner nation concerns, he spearheaded the completion of new National Search and Rescue Plans and safeguarded the environmental underpinnings of the economy by referring 16 toxic dumping cases for prosecution, yielding $7.3m in fines, $1.2m in environmental restoration, and 54 years of supervised probation. Under his exceptional direction, 1,395 Active Duty, Reserve, Civilian and Auxiliary Coast Guardsmen executed operations resulting in 669 lives and $14.9m saved in 2,670 responses.
Working with Hawaii emergency management agency and the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard advanced maritime and aviation contingency plans in support of state responses to natural disasters. Atkins expressed his thankfulness for the opportunity to serve the people of Hawaii, the nation and the greater Pacific region.
The 14th District covers more than 12.2 million square miles of land and sea, with units on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, and in American Samoa, Saipan, Guam, Singapore, and Japan. The district commander oversees operational units ashore and afloat throughout the Pacific, which regularly perform missions in maritime safety, protection of natural resources, maritime security, homeland security, and national defense.