New Leader Takes Command of Coast Guard Cutter Diligence

Cutter Diligence former commanding officer Capt. Jeffrey Randall receives a parting gift of a framed painting with a commissioning pennant and three unique coins. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Cutter Diligence former commanding officer Capt. Jeffrey Randall receives a parting gift of a framed painting with a commissioning pennant and three unique coins. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Cmdr. Matt Carter took command of the Cutter Diligence during a change of command ceremony Thursday in Wilmington.

Capt. Doug Fears, Chief of Staff for Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command, presided over the ceremony while Carter relieved Capt. Jeffrey Randall as the commanding officer of the Cutter Diligence.

“It’s a tough day when you have turnover command of a Coast Guard cutter that has been a big part of your life for the past two years.  It is only made more difficult by the special connection this cutter has to the City of Wilmington,” said Randall, “I couldn’t have asked for a better crew, and I look forward to overseeing your future endeavors from my new job.”

Carter reports from the Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit Texas, in San Antonio, Texas, where he served as the unit’s executive officer.

Following the ceremony, Randall reports to his next assignment as Chief division officer of the Operational Forces Branch of Coast Guard Atlantic Area, in Portsmouth, Virginia. He will oversee operational units reporting to the Atlantic Area command, including cutters, air stations, and deployable specialized forces, which includes the Maritime Security Response Team and several Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Teams.

In attendance were:  North Carolina State Senator Michael Lee, the Honorable Bill Saffo, Mayor of Wilmington, members of the Wilmington City Council and the New Hanover County Commissioners, as well as several other city officials and distinguished guests. 

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Operational highlights during Randall’s tenure were:

  • Diligence served as a frontline cutter while conducting six multi-mission patrols in support of Coast Guard Districts One, Five, Seven and Joint Interagency Task Force South.
  • Diligence served in support of fishery patrols Operation Ocean Hunter and Operation Atlantic Venture and drug and migrant interdiction patrols Operation Southeast Watch and Operation Martillo.
  • Throughout Diligence’s six patrols, her crew steamed over 32,000 nautical miles, conducted 135 boardings, 553 helicopter evolutions, and executed five search and rescue cases.
  • In summer of 2014, Diligence reached its 50th anniversary as it entered the Coast Guard Yard for a 78-day, $2.8 million dollar drydock restoration, replacing, repairing and renewing vital components to maintain operational readiness and extend her service life.
  • Over the past two years, Diligence earned two awards, namely, the Overall Operational Readiness Award and the Coast Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon with the Operational Distinguishing Device.

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition that formally restates the continuity of command.  It is preformed before an assembled crew to confirm to each member that although the authority of command is relinquished by one leader and assumed by another, it is still maintained without interruption.

Commissioned in 1964, Diligence is a 210-foot, diesel powered, helicopter-capable Coast Guard Cutter with 76 crewmembers. Diligence dutifully remains "On guard for America," patrolling the east coast of the United States, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico rescuing mariners in distress, protecting our environment and valuable fisheries resources, halting the immigration of illegal migrants, and helping staunch the flow of illegal drugs and contraband from entering the United States.

The current Diligence is the sixth that bears the name, and is the only active duty Coast Guard Cutter with the same name and homeport tracing back to one of ten original Revenue Marine Cutters, which was commissioned in 1791.

As fifty year-old Diligence and the rest of the 210’ and 270’ medium endurance cutter fleet continues to age and are operating past their original lifecycle of 20 years, the Coast Guard is replacing them with the multi-mission Offshore Patrol Cutter. The OPC’s will play a vital role in bridging the gap between the 418’ National Security Cutters, and the 154-foot Fast Response Cutters.  Together with their advanced 21st-century technology, these cutters will continue the missions of the longest sea-going service of the United States including, maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, homeland security and defense missions.

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Cutters and Patrol Boats