In 1991, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Katherine Faverey Tiongson took command of the newly built USCG cutter (USCGC) Bainbridge Island. This assignment made Tiongson the first Hispanic American female to command an afloat unit in the USCG. Tiongson took command of the 110-foot (34-meter) USCGC Bainbridge Island during a commissioning ceremony for the vessel in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. As part of that dockside ceremony, Tiongson was presented with two gift fishing poles. Tiongson was 25 years old at the time and the only woman in the USCGC Bainbridge Island’s original crew of 16.
A native of New Jersey, Tiongson graduated from the USCG Academy just two years earlier. She decided to pursue a career with the USCG only after examining possible service opportunities in other U.S. military branches. “The Coast Guard’s mission was what interested me,” Tiongson explained in an inteview with the Asbury Park Press in 1991. “The search and rescue operations, law enforcement.”
When she took the helm of USCGC Bainbridge Island, Tiongson was one of only four women serving as commanders of USCG vessels. Tiongson also had the distinction of being the first USCG officer under the rank of lieutenant to be given command of a vessel as large as USCGC Bainbridge Island.
Tiongson served as commander of USCGC Bainbridge Island for two years. She subsequently achieved another milestone when she became the USCG’s first Hispanic American female intelligence officer. Tiongson was serving as acting deputy assistant commandant for intelligence when she retired from the USCG in 2017.
For more information on Katherine Faverey Tiongson, please check out https://www.vesseloperations.org/black-mariners/2020/9/23/captain-katherine-f-tiongson-uscg-retired
Additional information on Hispanic Americans who have served in the U.S. Coast Guard is available at https://www.history.uscg.mil/Browse-by-Topic/Notable-People/Minorities/Hispanic-Americans/