Leader of Leaders

Leader Of Leaders

By Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen

The military is known for developing leaders. An effective leader knows the benefit in creating leaders out of those who follow. The men and women of the Coast Guard are introduced to these principles at the earliest stages of service, establishing foundational leadership and reliance.

Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, headquartered in Philadelphia, is home to many leaders. From petty officers responsible for safe boat operations, to commanders in charge of entire departments, to the captain in charge of it all, there is much shared responsibility.

“We have about 750 people here in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware region — Coast Guard men and women in the active duty, reserve and civilian force — and we do all 11 Coast Guard missions,” said Capt. Benjamin Cooper, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay, headquartered in Philadelphia.

As sector commander, Cooper’s authorities include serving as the captain of the port, the officer in charge of marine inspections, the federal on-scene coordinator for pollution and HAZMAT response, the search and rescue mission coordinator and the federal maritime security coordinator. He’s also the commanding officer for the 750 people within the sector.

“The job has a lot of facets,” said Cooper. “We really focus on getting the job done.”

Sector Delaware Bay’s mission execution involves search and rescue, homeland security, law enforcement, pollution response, investigations into marine casualties and marine safety inspections of domestic and foreign vessels.

“It also involves waterways management — that’s aids to navigation on the rivers and ocean, as well as ice breaking,” said Cooper. “We’re a military service, so we do a lot of preparation and training to ensure our readiness.

“We spend a lot of time focusing on the mission, but quite honestly it’s the people accomplishing the mission who are the most important,” said Cooper. “We have to keep those folks trained, safe and supported to ensure they’re ready.”

Sector Delaware Bay has oversight for numerous units. There are six boat stations — one in Delaware, four down the Jersey Shore and one in Philadelphia — three patrol boats, two ice breaking tugs and two aids to navigation teams.

Cooper said he spends a lot of time working with the leaders of those units, ensuring their people are taken care of and properly trained.

“We wouldn’t be able to focus on operations and training if it wasn’t for the support we receive from the sector,” said Lt. Noel Johnson, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Atlantic City. “Their assistance is integral to the daily operations of our station.”

Johnson said his unit receives assistance from the sector in a variety of ways. The sector logistics department provides personnel support, the response department provides operational guidance, the Sector Field Office handles boat and facility maintenance, the command center staff coordinates search and rescue missions, and the wardroom and chiefs’ mess provide career guidance and mentorship.

“Coast Guard people are critical to our success and it’s our responsibility to take care of them,” said Cooper. “I ask our crews to make sure you look out for one another and take care of each other. We are a humanitarian service that puts ourselves at risk to keep others safe — do that for your shipmates, as well.”

Capt. Benjamin Cooper (right) congratulates Lt. Noel Johnson on becoming the commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Atlantic City.

Capt. Benjamin Cooper (right) congratulates Lt. Noel Johnson on becoming the commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Atlantic City.

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