Captain Richard J. Wester

Sector Commander

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads


Captain Wester assumed duties as Commander, Sector Hampton Roads in June, 2016, after serving two years as Deputy Commander. As Sector Commander, he leads a staff and 14 subunits in conducting all 11 Coast Guard statutory missions, and his official authorities include Captain of the Port, Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection, Federal On Scene Coordinator, Federal Maritime Security Coordinator, and Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator.

Captain Wester holds an upper-level unlimited merchant mariner license and has served in four cutters, including command of Coast Guard Cutter JUNIPER, a sea-going buoy tender. He began his career aboard Coast Guard Cutter ESCAPE and served as a maritime law enforcement boarding officer during Operations ABLE MANNER and ABLE VIGIL Caribbean mass migration response and personally interdicted in excess of 1,000 illegal migrants. He continued his afloat career as Executive Officer in Coast Guard cutter NEAH BAY, a Great Lakes icebreaker, and then cutter WALNUT, a sea-going buoy tender where he led the short-notice preparations for the first out-of-hemisphere wartime deployment of a Coast Guard buoy tender since the Vietnam War. He ensured the cutter’s multi-mission readiness during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, enabling the reestablishment of navigational buoys in Iraq’s 42-mile Qwahr Abd Allah River to ensure access to Iraq’s only deepwater port. He also served as Coast Guard Liaison to the Navy’s 3rd Fleet in San Diego.

Captain Wester earned a Master of Mass Communication from the University of Georgia and subsequently served as a public affairs officer at Coast Guard Headquarters. A NIMS-certified Type 1 Public Information Officer, he was Director of External Affairs for the federal BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill response at the Unified Area Command in New Orleans, advising the Federal On-Scene Coordinator on public communications issues and directing the interagency efforts of 62 communications personnel from 15 agencies. He also served as Press Assistant to the 24th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Admiral Robert J. Papp.

Captain Wester graduated with honors from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Science and is also a member of Coast Guard Academy Admissions Partner and Advisory Board. He also earned a National Security and Strategic Studies Master of Arts degree from the Naval War College’s College of Naval Warfare with a subsequent tour on the Joint Staff’s J5/Homeland Defense Division at the Pentagon. He is married to the former Kathryn A. Schelble of Columbia, S.C. and they have three boys. In the winter he is an active volunteer for the National Ski Patrol at Wintergreen Ski Resort in Virginia.