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Outgoing Coast Guard commandant may stay on to oversee spill response

May. 17, 2010 - 06:00AM   |  
By SUSAN SCHEPT   |   Comments
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen might continue to play an oversight role on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup after he steps down as the service's top officer May 25, according to the Coast Guard's incoming commandant.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen might continue to play an oversight role on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup after he steps down as the service's top officer May 25, according to the Coast Guard's incoming commandant. (Navy file photo)

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen might continue to play an oversight role on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup after he steps down as the service's top officer May 25, according to Adm. Robert Papp, the incoming commandant.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano designated Allen as the national incident commander May 1. Since then, he has coordinated the efforts of federal agencies and overseen BP's efforts to stop the leak spewing thousands of gallons of oil into the gulf each day.

The decision of who will become national incident commander after Allen transfers the duties of commandant to Papp has not been made.

"One of many options might include Admiral Allen being extended on active duty or recalled from retirement," Papp said. "I anticipate a decision very soon."

Allen is slated to retire following the ceremony.

Papp said that Allen's "calming" influence and reputation for getting disparate agencies to work together became well-known after his oversight of the Coast Guard's rescue mission during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. That is why he was sought for his current role, Papp said.

"It's almost like bringing back an experienced, talented athlete for the big game," he said.

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