The U.S. Coast Guard’s Navigation Center (NAVCEN), and its commander Captain Russell Holmes, received special honors at a ceremony where Holmes officially took his leave for New Orleans and a new post as officer in charge of marine inspection for the outer continental shelf.
Holmes handed over his responsibilities and authority to Captain Michael Glander during a June 14 change of command ceremony. Glander most recently served as chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Defense and Counterterrorism. Designated as a permanent cutterman, Glander served more than nine years at sea doing aids-to-navigation maintenance, search and rescue, maritime law enforcement and environmental enforcement.
Rear Admiral John Nadeau praised the work done by the NAVCEN under Holmes’ watch and honored Holmes with his third Meritorious Service Medal.
“The NAVCEN is the center of gravity,” said Nadeau, “the nucleus… the belly button… for collecting, integrating, analyzing and presenting all kinds of maritime information — both onboard vessels and ashore, by electronic means — in order to enhance navigation and other related services for safety, security and the protection of the entire Marine Transportation System.”
The NAVCEN’s work is a foundation for several Coast Guard missions, he said, according to his prepared remarks. “It’s the best in the world at what it does and it’s becoming more and more vital every day.”
Nadeau noted in particular the NAVCEN’s creation of the Vessel Identification Verification System or VIVS, which reduces the chances of collision by enabling field and vessel operators to check the accuracy of their Automatic Identification Broadcasts.
“Experts here at the NAVCEN recognized that 50 percent of the vessels operating on U.S. waterways were unknowingly broadcasting erroneous information and jeopardizing safety,” Nadeau said. “They set out to fix that, developing a tool that would allow stakeholders a means to confirm the fidelity of their vessel information. With no resources readily available to support development of an enterprise-wide Coast Guard IT solution using conventional means the NAVCEN team did it on their own and built a customized web-based solution hosted on their own website.”
AIS compliance improved by more than 430 percent in just six months, said Nadeau, who awarded the men and women of the NAVCEN a Coast Guard Unit Commendation.
Holmes also received recognition from the center’s enlisted men. They surprised him by making him an honorary chief in recognition of their special trust and confidence in his fidelity and abilities.
“Being an honorary chief is a very rare thing as an officer,” said Holmes. “I’m honored.”
A surprise was also in store for Holmes’ wife, Amy Holmes, who was given the Coast Guard’s Meritorious Public Service Award for her work on the 2017 Air-Sea-Space exposition and for her extensive volunteer work. As a volunteer she helped lead the Coast Guard Spouses Club of DC and served as an unofficial advisor to the National Council of Spouses’ Clubs Executive Committee. As president of the Spouses Club she led the Officers’ Spouses Club to become and all-inclusive group, the first of five DC area clubs to make that change.
The change of command ceremony also featured the Holmes family daughters who helped perform the national anthem and a silent drill team that executed their bayonet-includedrifle maneuvers with both precision and clear trust in each other’s expertise.