Lead Guard in Charge

Capt. Philip Schifflin spreads praise to overseers on world’s busiest waterway

Capt. Philip Schifflin is living, breathing and certainly decorated proof that you can in fact be cool, calm and in complete command.

A lifer in the Coast Guard ever since he met an admiral as a junior in high school, Capt. Schifflin was promoted to New Orleans Sector Commander in June 2014 after serving two years as Deputy Sector Commander. Throughout his brief tenure in this director’s role, Capt. Schifflin readily admits he hasn’t let the added responsibility alter his decision-making and style of leadership. Instead, Capt. Schifflin has been quick to lean on his experienced and tested officers while tackling the diverse demands of monitoring the mouth of the Mississippi River.

“I was and am blessed with a very intelligent, capable, dedicated staff,” Capt. Schifflin says. “They make my job easier and make sure our duties are not only performed, but performed the best they can be.

- Sponsors -

“I depend on them and for us to work collectively with state, federal and industry officials to help fulfill these responsibilities,” he continues. “Their familiarity with the region and experience with all sorts of matters plays a significant role in the decisions we make every day.”

Prior to his current assignment, Capt. Schifflin was stationed at two other sectors and also spent time on a patrol boat in Norfolk, Virginia. From 2008 to 2011, Schifflin oversaw search and rescue and law enforcement and pollution response as Response Department Head at Sector Mobile in Alabama — a stint that included handling incident command after the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Before that, Schifflin supervised three patrol boats, a construction tender, three multi-mission stations and three aids to navigations teams at Group/Air Station Corpus Christi. Schifflin was also assigned to lead the Prevention Law Division at Coast Guard Headquarters for four years.

- Partner Content -

Entergy’s Energy Smart Program Brings Cost Conscious Innovation to New Orleans

Offering comprehensive energy efficiency at no cost to the consumer, Entergy’s Energy Smart program incentivizes Entergy New Orleans customers to perform energy-saving upgrades in...

“It’s been a vast array of missions, each with their own demands and particulars, and all those experiences mentored me and prepared me for the challenges we face here at Sector New Orleans,” Capt. Schifflin says. “This is probably one of the most demanding and challenging waterways to manage issues. For starters, you have the Mississippi River… It’s really the gateway to the heart of the United States.”

In addition to the assortment of domestic ships that traverse the river and its tributaries that reach 32 states and a couple Canadian provinces, the Mississippi River also welcomes more than 5,000 foreign-flagged vessels annually. South Louisiana is also home to a very active shallow-water fleet — tug and tow boats mostly — that shares the same narrow space as deep-draft operators. Beyond the river, the New Orleans Coast Guard Sector also includes portions of the Gulf of Mexico, the International Waterway and five ports: New Orleans, Baton Rouge, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and of course the Port of South Louisiana.

“When you talk about our role, it’s hard to peg down one answer,” Capt. Schifflin says. “We’re the authority responsible for the safety and security of the waterways, and that includes regulating domestic and foreign vessels. We’re also responsible for overseeing all pollution and HAZMAT responses … Another responsibility is to process search and rescue cases which is what most people think of when they think of the Coast Guard.”

- Sponsors -

When issues arise, Capt. Schifflin prides himself in acting and responding quickly while considering all options to arrive at the resolution.

“The best decisions are made when they are tested by information from various sources,” Capt. Schifflin says. “I welcome informed input — whether it be from federal partners, state partners, members of industry — and if after going through that extensive vetting process, the decision is altered or changed, that’s OK. Because it’s a better decision.”




Digital Sponsors / Become a Sponsor

Follow the issues, companies and people that matter most to business in New Orleans.

Email Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter