Coast Guard Cmdr. Randall T. Chong, a 1995 Ceres High School graduate, last month took command of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis in Key West, Fla.
USCGC Thetis (WMEC-910) is a 270-foot-long Coast Guard Famous-class medium endurance cutter. She is the 10th ship of the Famous Class cutters designed and built for the U.S. Coast Guard and the third vessel to bear the name. She was launched in 1986 and named for the Greek goddess Thetis, the mother of Achilles. She was commissioned on June 30, 1989. Homeported in Key West, the Thetis conducts patrols throughout the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. The ship’s primary peacetime mission is maritime law enforcement but it has also been used as a support vessel during hurricanes that have struck Florida and the Gulf region.
The ship has a crew of about 95 personnel.
At a change of command ceremony at Trumbo Point on June 21, departing Cmdr. Jose E. Diaz – he was in command since 2016 – asked his crew to give Chong the “same dedication as you delivered during my time onboard.”
Chong said it’s a “great experience” being in charge of the ship.
“Having the opportunity to lead over a hundred motivated men and women is a gift."Coast Guard Cmdr. Randall T. Chong
“Having the opportunity to lead over a hundred motivated men and women is a gift. Accomplishing missions like search and rescue and drug interdictions as a crew gives you purpose and sense of accomplishment. Every time we set sail, it can be for a different mission or area of the world. We are truly are living the Coast Guard’s motto of being ‘Always Ready.’”
Having command at sea is the most memorable aspect of his Coast Guard career.
“I’ve been underway on Coast Guard cutters for 10 out of my 18 years in the service. I commanded a patrol boat in Puerto Rico and looking forward to commanding a larger ship with Thetis. It’s a unique job that is exciting and satisfying because you see your crew grow and learn. Growing up in Ceres taught me to appreciate the people around you, work hard, and to have pride in the work you do. I hope I bring that attitude to Thetis so we can be successful in everything we do.”
Two weeks after his high school graduation in Ceres, Chong headed off to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Ct., where he graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in government. Randall later earned his master’s degree in educational technology from San Diego State University.
The Thetis is the fourth cutter of which Chong, 40, has been assigned. He was the commanding officer of the Chincoteague in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the operations officer of the Seneca in Boston, and as a deck watch officer for the Acushnet in Ketchikan, Alaska.
“I didn’t think I was going to travel and live in so many different places,” said Chong when asked to comment on his experiences in the Coast Guard. “I’ve been stationed as far north as Ketchikan, Alaska and as far south as San Juan Puerto Rico. I operated in Bahrain in the Middle East, off the coast of the Galapagos Islands, and throughout the Caribbean. All areas of the world that I didn’t imagine going to while sitting in classes as a Bulldog at Ceres High.”
Previously the Ceres native served a four-year stint as Chief of Operations Training for Force Readiness Command at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Coast Guard. Chong also served as the executive officer of the USCGC Mohawk, the sister ship of the Thetis.
“I’m proud of him,” said his father Frank Chong of Ceres. “I’m proud of all of my kids.”
His mother is Tina Chong of Ceres.
Randy’s wife Jeanny and Randy have two children, Maxwell and Lucille.
While he attended CHS, Chong was active in clubs, soccer, swimming, cross country and wrestling