Commander Arex B. Avanni assumed command of the Coast Guard Gulf Strike Team on June 28, 2010. Prior to the Gulf Coast Strike Team, Commander Avanni was the Coast Guard’s Congressional Fellow on the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations working on budget and resource approval for various agencies and components of the Department of Homeland Security. While working on the Appropriations Committee in 2009, he was selected for and completed a National Security and Foreign Policy Fellowship offered by the Carnegie Foundation’s Partnership for a Secure America, a group dedicated to bi-partisan national security and foreign policy development.
A 1994 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Management, Commander Avanni served his first tour of duty aboard the Coast Guard Cutter MORGENTHAU, a 378’ High Endurance Cutter home-ported in Alameda, California, as the Communications Officer and later as the Operations Officer. Following, Commander Avanni was assigned as a Company Officer at the Naval Academy Preparatory School where he also developed and ran the Military Leadership Program. In 1998, Commander Avanni transferred to the Marine Safety Office in Morgan City, Louisiana, where he earned his qualifications as a Pollution Investigator, Marine Facility Inspector, Marine Vessel Inspector, and Federal On-Scene Coordinator. He was the Federal On-Scene Coordinator and Incident Commander for the Nation’s largest oil spill in 1998, a 255,500 gallon crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Following his tour in Louisiana, Commander Avanni was designated as the Regional Response Team Coordinator for the First Coast Guard District in Boston, Massachusetts serving Federal Regions 1 and 2. While at the First District, he also served as Aide to the District Commander, and assumed the role of Port Security and Waterways Management Program Manager for New England. In the months following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Commander Avanni led the First District’s Incident Management Team coordinating all Coast Guard port security efforts to move assets from around the nation to New York City. In the fall of 2004, Commander Avanni reported to Sector San Francisco as the Chief of the Sector Command Center managing and coordinating all Coast Guard missions and response in Northern California. In 2006, he became the Chief of the Incident Management Division for Sector San Francisco, and, most notably, he served as the Federal On-Scene Coordinator and Incident Commander for the extended response to the 58,000 gallon M/V COSCO BUSAN spill that occurred in San Francisco Bay in November 2007.
Commander Avanni was raised in South Lake Tahoe, California after immigrating to the United States from the Philippines. He is married to the former Ann-Marie Cavanaugh of Beverly, MA and they have twin daughters Natalia Bao and Mariella Bei.
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