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Coast Guard Research and Development Center goes virtual with change of command ceremony

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Rear Adm. Michael Johnston (center), assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer, presides as incoming commanding officer of the Research and Development Center (RDC), Capt. Select Daniel Keane (left), relieves the former commanding officer, Capt. Greg Rothrock, of his duties May 1, 2020. In adherence with current social distancing guidelines, the ceremony was held virtually so the members of the RDC could watch from home as Keane and Rothrock maintained a six-foot distance. U.S. Coast Guard photo.


Capt. Select Daniel Keane assumed the duties of commanding officer (CO) of the Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) in New London, Connecticut, in a virtual change of command ceremony May 1, 2020. Rear Adm. Michael Johnston, assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer, presided over the ceremony from Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as Keane relieved the former commanding officer, Capt. Greg Rothrock.

Johnston remarked on Rothrock’s “excellent leadership, tremendous contributions and lasting impact.” Under Rothrock’s three years of leadership, “the RDC supported the Coast Guard’s strategic objectives, delivered the highest quality research products to decision makers, and leveraged the full power of partnerships to directly support Coast Guard research, development and innovation,” Johnston said. Rothrock’s exceptional performance as RDC CO was recognized with the award of the Legion of Merit.            

Over the three years that Rothrock served as CO, the RDC successfully completed more than 100 projects and 200 research products with several high-profile successes. Immediately after assuming command of the RDC, Rothrock ensured the counter unmanned aircraft systems (cUAS) project was a priority within the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation project portfolio. He quickly established the first ever memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Air Force Research Laboratory, allowing engagement across a spectrum of projects. These efforts led directly to the ability to acquire and test cUAS technology.

Throughout his RDC tour, Rothrock established several strategic relationships between the RDC and entities across the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DoD) and the private sector. He positioned the RDC to operate expertly within the intelligence community through projects impacting DHS components such as Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secret Service, Federal Protective Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He also established a Strategic Partnership Engagement Plan which targeted DoD labs, DoD graduate level schools, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and both the Connecticut and Ohio National Guards. This led to the pursuit and entrance into 13 additional MOUs; the partnerships resulted in direct support to the execution of Coast Guard research priorities.

Rothrock’s astute leadership and innovation propelled the RDC to a level of achievement and impact that has taken applied research to a new level while ensuring that funding provided to the RDC has been used efficiently and effectively toward project completion and delivery.

Rothrock attributed these accomplishments to the support of the RDC members. “They allowed me to ask countless questions, provided valuable insight and permitted me to participate in their research. I could not be more grateful for how willing they have been to teach me this business,” he said. “Make no mistake, research and development is a tough business, but it represents the greatest team sport – the endeavor where working together in small teams can result in changing how the Coast Guard delivers service to our nation.”

As Rothrock departed the RDC for his new assignment as director of the Commandant’s Advisory Group at Coast Guard Headquarters, he expressed his confidence that the members of the RDC will support Keane in the same way, while they continue to “deliver the highest quality research products to decision-makers, leverage partnerships to shorten the research ‘Flash-to-Bang,’ and provide answers at the ‘Speed-of-Need.’”

Keane brings a wealth of experience to his new position. Prior to taking on the role of RDC CO, Keane was recognized for his exceptional performance as manager of the Medium Endurance Cutter Product Line (MECPL) for the Surface Forces Logistics Center. From August 2018 through May 2020, Keane was singly responsible for worldwide engineering and logistics support for the entire medium endurance cutter fleet – 13 270-foot medium endurance cutters and 14 210-foot medium endurance cutters – and the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle.

Under Keane’s strategic guidance and leadership, the MECPL distinguished itself as the first major cutter project line to fully integrate the budgetary and supply elements into the recurring depot maintenance planning cycle.

Keane told RDC via an email welcome that he was “both impressed and inspired by the scope and technical depth of the work you do here … I can’t wait to work with each of you.”

For more information: Research and Development Center program page and Research, Development, Test and Evaluation program page