Metro Manila, Philippines — Admiral Ronnie Gil Latorilla Gavan was sworn in on Thursday as the new commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard.

Gavan, who served as the PCG’s Deputy Commandant for Administration, was also promoted from vice admiral to admiral when he took his oath before Transporation Secretary Jaime Bautista.

He formally replaced Admiral Artemio Abu, who retired after 35 years of service, during the change of command ceremony at the PCG headquarters in Manila.

Bautista lauded Abu for steering the country away from “any deterioration in the volatile situation at the West Philippine Sea” and expressed trust that Gavan would do the same.

Bautista highlighted Gavan’s introduction of the “Angels of the Sea,” a group of female radio operators, to diffuse tension during sea conflict.

In his speech, Bautista said he expected the PCG to provide “steadfast service and dedication to duty” in times of calamity as well as uphold maritime security and promote the country’s maritime rights.

“The Department of Transportation firmly stands with you in your plans and efforts to improve, expand, and modernize your capabilities and services so you can level up your efforts at securing the welfare of our people and our nation,” he said.

In his speech at Thursday’s ceremony, Gavan said that to ensure continuity, all policies and directives under Abu would remain in effect and applicable until these are rescinded, amended, or modified by him.