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Press Release | June 29, 2023

U.S. Coast Guard Port Security Unit holds change of command ceremony

NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia — U.S. Coast Guard Port Security Unit 305 (PSU 305) held a change of command ceremony, Tuesday, at the Mariner’s Museum of Newport News.

Cmdr. John Elkins relieved Cmdr. James Lovenstein as the commanding officer of PSU 305. Capt. Jason Ryan, chief of Pacific Area operations, presided over the ceremony.

Lovenstein served as PSU 305’s commanding officer from July 2019 to June 2023 and led the unit through the COVID-19 pandemic and utilized best practices to ensure unit readiness and maintenance of member qualifications. Lovenstein voluntarily extended his assignment to lead PSU 305 through their year-long deployment cycle to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (NSGB).

Elkins served as executive officer of Port Security Unit 307 in Clearwater, Florida, from August 2018 to October 2022. During that time, he deployed to Guantanamo Bay and served as deputy commander, Maritime Security Detachment (MARSECDET), Joint Task Force Guantanamo in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Elkins was assigned to Coast Guard Reserve Unit United States Southern Command in the exercise office before taking command of PSU 305.

Port Security Units are deployable specialized forces that are utilized for expeditionary operations. PSUs provide land and waterborne security for shipping lanes and critical port facilities in support of the United States along with humanitarian operations.

PSU 305 was commissioned on August 19, 1995, at the Coast Guard Training Center in Yorktown. It is one of eight PSUs, and like its counterparts, it is comprised primarily of reservists with a few full-time active-duty staff members. PSU 305 was the first PSU to deploy to NSGB to stand up the MARSECDET shortly after the attacks of September 11th, 2001. PSU 305 returned from NSGB on June 15, 2023, as the last PSU to stand watch as the Joint Task Force MARSECDET.

The change of command ceremony was held in front of PSU 305 servicemembers, family members and guests. The ceremony is a time-honored naval tradition that signifies the peaceful transfer of responsibility from one commanding officer to another. It symbolizes an acknowledgement of respect for authority, which is vital to both military organizations and the freedom for which our country stands. The ceremony represents more than just the relief of one commanding officer by another, it also symbolizes the transfer of absolute authority and the responsibilities for a military unit of the United States and its assigned missions.

For anyone interested in any further information regarding PSU 305, please contact Lt. Christopher Pere at (757) 878-5922 ext. 228.