As part of the designation of the BP Oil Spill as a Spill of National Significance, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Saturday announced that U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen will serve as the National Incident Commander for the administration’s continued, coordinated response — providing additional authority and oversight in leveraging every available resource to respond to the BP oil spill and minimize the associated environmental risks.
As National Incident Commander, Admiral Allen will continue to work closely with Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry, the federal on-scene coordinator, and the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Interior and Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal departments and agencies as appropriate — as well as BP, the responsible party in the spill — to ensure the efficient continued deployment and coordination of vital response assets, personnel and equipment that were activated immediately after the spill began.
Admiral Allen has overseen Coast Guard efforts since the moment this incident began, when the agency responded quickly to the April 20 explosion in a search and rescue capacity in order to save lives. Since then, the administration has continuously anticipated and planned for a worst case scenario, and with this formal designation Admiral Allen will continue to lead and coordinate ongoing federal actions to mitigate the oil spill, for which BP is responsible and required to pay response and cleanup costs.
Admiral Allen assumed the duties of the 23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard on May 25, 2006. As such, he leads a major component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), comprised of approximately 42,000 men and women on active duty, 7,000 civilians, 8,000 reservists and 34,000 volunteer auxiliarists. He is the only four-star Admiral of the Coast Guard, and is appointed for a four year term by the President of the United States. The Coast Guard Commandant reports directly to the President, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Defense.