A new captain will be taking the helm of Coast Guard operations in the region Friday.
Capt. Joseph M. Vojvodich, commander of Sector Long Island Sound, will be succeeded by Connecticut native Capt. Edward J. Cubanski III at a ceremony at sector headquarters in New Haven.
Vojvodich, having completed the usual three-year stint at the sector that covers Long Island waters, has been promoted to rear admiral. He is the first Asian-American admiral, or flag officer, in Coast Guard history. His mother is from South Korea.
As one of 42 Coast Guard flag officers, Vojvodich, 50, will move to Washington to head procurement of vessels, aircraft and other equipment.
"I'm very grateful to have been able to serve here," said Vojvodich, who graduated from the Coast Guard Academy 28 years ago. "You really get to learn a lot about the Coast Guard at the operational level -- those at the stations, the aides to navigation team, our spill responders and our inspectors of domestic and foreign vessels -- and how passionate and competent they are."
He said working in the post-Sept. 11 environment in the New York metropolitan area was "a constant struggle" to balance national security concerns with the traditional maritime safety role of the agency.
The Coast Guard also had to face federal sequestration budget cuts. He said the sector staff has and will continue to handle critical functions "like the rescues and security at big events like the Jones Beach air show." What has changed "is the lower priority patrols that we do on a random basis."
The new assignment is a homecoming for Cubanski, who has been stationed in New Orleans. Plus his wife grew up in Westchester County.
"That's the beautiful part," he said. "I'm very familiar with the waters. I've been sailing on Long Island Sound and fishing off Montauk Point and all things in between."
Cubanski, 47, since last year was chief of the Response Division and was the Incident Management Branch chief from 2010 to 2012 at the Eighth Coast Guard District. The 1988 Coast Guard Academy graduate was commanding officer at Air Station New Orleans from 2008 to 2012 and led the rescue of crews from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. From 2006 to 2008, he was executive officer of Air Station Atlantic City.
The commander of Sector Long Island Sound oversees 550 active duty military and civilians, 180 uniformed reservists and more than 1,500 Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers.