Adm. Linda Fagan on Wednesday became the 27th Commandant of the Coast Guard, making her the first woman to lead the service.
Adm. Karl Schultz, who preceded Fagan at the helm of the service, retired immediately after the change-of-command ceremony following 39 years of service with the Coast Guard.
Fagan previously was vice commandant since June 2021 and before that was commander of the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area.
As with her predecessors, Fagan will lead the Coast Guard as it faces rising demands to monitor illegal fishing by the Chinese throughout the Pacific, curtail flows of illicit drugs at sea, partner with the Defense Department to conduct freedom of navigation missions and patrol disputed waters, and boost its presence in the Arctic as sea ice melts and Russia increases its activities in the region.
“We’ll be calling on the Coast Guard more and more frequently, as you know, to underwrite the international maritime security, to keep the sea lanes open and secure, to uphold a rules-based international order, to protect the waters…through which nearly one-quarter of United States’ GDP is transported, to manage the impact of changing climate becoming more extreme, more extreme weather and growing migration flows,” President Joe Biden said at the change-of-command ceremony.
Biden also called the Coast Guard the “central element” to his administration’s new Indo-Pacific Strategy, which includes “building partnerships with nations throughout the region” to combat illegal fishing and conduct other missions. He also mentioned the melting ice in the Arctic, “a place that is going to also potentially generate potential conflict.”
China, which calls itself a near-Arctic state, is also increasing its activity in the region.