As Rep. Scott Peters put it, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer got a promotion Thursday morning. He's now in charge of an officially designated "Coast Guard City."
The Coast Guard's 25th commandant, Adm. Paul Zukunft, honored San Diego with the title during a pomp-filled ceremony at the San Diego Convention Center that drew dignitaries from all the region's military and police forces, plus high-ranking Mexican officials.
San Diego becomes the nation's 21st "Coast Guard City" and the largest metropolis on the list. The award recognizes San Diego's commitment to erecting monuments to the maritime service, organizing civic celebrations and helping to boost the morale, welfare and recreational opportunities for Coast Guard personnel in the region.
The designation -- bestowed by the commandant with approval from Congress -- lasts for five years and then will be re-evaluated.
Praising both the service and the city for Thursday's commemoration, Peters told the audience sitting near the brisk San Diego Bay that as American military forces continue pivoting to the Pacific region, the role of the Coast Guard within the larger military strategy will grow.
"San Diego and the Coast Guard will be at the center of their plan to reinforce the maritime strategy," said Peters, D-San Diego.
San Diego has a long relationship with the Coast Guard. In 1935, the city gave 23 acres to the service to establish an air station.
Last year, the Coast Guard -- part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security -- conducted 444 search and rescue missions in the San Diego region, saving 111 lives and helping to spare 511 more.
Zukunft has long ties to San Diego, too. The commandant married his wife, Fran, 27 years ago in the city.
On Thursday, he pointed to the Coast Guard's role in protecting the city from potential terrorist attacks by sea and its ongoing work with municipal, county, federal and Mexican agencies in keeping the bustling San Diego port open for business.
"This really is the national standard for jointness -- working across all aspects of government. But it really begins at the local level," Zukunft said.
As he presented Zukunft with a ceremonial key to the city, Faulconer called the designation -- which San Diego had pursued for several years -- exciting and very important.
"Our city supports the men and women who served, or have retired from, the Coast Guard and their families. And we're darned proud of that," he said.