CAPT Keith Donohue Assumes Command of Sector Houston-Galveston
Rear Admiral John Mauger, CAPT Keith Donohue, Commander, Sector Houston-Galveston, Rear Admiral Richard Timme, and CAPT Jason Smith, at the change-of-command ceremony. Photo courtesy of Corrine Zilnicki, USCG.
On June 9, CAPT Jason Smith, commander Sector Houston-Galveston, retired from the U.S. Coast Guard (“USCG” or “Coast Guard”) after 30 years of service. Relieving Smith and becoming the new commander is CAPT Keith Donohue, previously deputy sector commander at Sector Houston-Galveston.
The change-of-command ceremony marks a transfer of total responsibility and authority from one individual to another. It is a time-honored tradition, conducted before the assembled crew, honored guests, and dignitaries to formally demonstrate the continuity of the authority within a command.
“I’ve enjoyed a blessed career in the Coast Guard that has taken me and my family around the world, meeting many wonderful people along the way,” said Donohue. “I’m excited to assume command of Sector Houston-Galveston, one of the largest, busiest, and most dynamic Coast Guard units in the United States."
The scope of responsibility at Sector Houston-Galveston is immense. It employs 1,562 active duty, civilian, and reserve personnel, three marine safety units, five multi-mission small boat stations, two aids to navigations stations, and four Coast Guard Cutters to ensure the safety security of the area.
Sector Houston-Galveston is strategic and a vital part of the nation’s economics. It encompasses six of the nation’s largest ports, including Houston, Beaumont, Lake Charles, Texas City, Freeport, Port Arthur, and Galveston as well as 247 miles of Gulf Intracoastal Waterways. These ports and waterways account for 25% of the total U.S. maritime tonnage and contribute over $1 trillion to nation’s economy. Included in these ports are the nation’s top three largest refineries, the fourth busiest cruise ship port, 57% of the nation’s strategic petroleum reserves, and a 56 square nautical mile National Marine Sanctuary.
Domestic and international marine safety, port security, incident management, and environmental response have been the focus of CAPT Donohue’s Coast Guard career. He has overseen deployments to oil spills, hazardous material releases, natural disasters, and exercises throughout the U.S., Southeast Asia, and Pacific Oceania.
Prior to serving as deputy sector commander at Sector Houston-Galveston, CAPT Donohue's operational assignments include deputy sector commander of Sector Long Island Sound in New Haven, Connecticut, commanding officer of the Pacific Strike Team in Novato, California, response department head at Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur, Texas, and facility branch chief, marine and environmental protection branch chief, and investigations officer at Marine Safety Office Providence, Rhode Island.
He has enjoyed his many experiences working for the Coast Guard in the U.S. and overseas. When asked what advice he would offer to new recruits, CAPT Donahue replied: “Follow your heart and what you enjoy. There are many opportunities in the Coast Guard, such as special overseas assignments, grad school, and more. Make your career what you want.”
CAPT Donohue is a certified Type 1 Incident Commander, ICS 300 Instructor, a trained Facility Security Officer, and a Master Exercise Practitioner. He was awarded three Meritorious Service Medals, five Coast Guard Commendation Medals, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals and two Humanitarian Service Medals.
Originally from Long Island, New York, where his father worked as a bricklayer, CAPT Donohue spent many hours on the water with his family sailing and fishing on weekends while growing up. He began college by studying oceanography, but later joined the Coast Guard. CAPT Donahue received his commission from USCG Officer Candidate School in 1997. He holds a Master of Arts in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Oceanography from the Florida Institute of Technology.