President's pick to lead the Coast Guard is Connecticut native

Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft

President Barack Obama is nominating Vice Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, who commands the Coast Guard's Pacific Area, to lead the Coast Guard.

If confirmed, Zukunft will succeed Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. and become the 25th commandant of the Coast Guard on May 30. Papp, who grew up in Norwich, will retire after a 39-year career.

Zukunft is also from Connecticut. A native of North Branford, he graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1977.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, in announcing the nomination internally Friday, said Zukunft will be "a great leader for the future of the Coast Guard."

Zukunft coordinated the federal response to the Deepwater Horizon Spill in 2010 and directed more than 47,000 responders, 6,500 vessels and 120 aircraft as the Coast Guard worked to respond to and recover from the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Zukunft has commanded six units and served extensively in the cutter fleet, where he commanded the cutters Cape Upright, Harriet Lane and Rush.

Johnson also thanked Papp for his years of service to the Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security and the nation. For nearly four years, Papp has led the largest component of the department, which comprises 42,000 active-duty members, 8,200 reservists, 8,000 civilians and 31,000 volunteer auxiliarists.

Papp has said that after he retires he will work to ensure that the National Coast Guard Museum is built in New London.

j.mcdermott@theday.com">j.mcdermott@theday.com

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