Only one can don the hat of the Coast Guard’s Joshua James Ancient Keeper. It’s an esteemed position awarded to an active duty member in recognition of their longevity and outstanding performance within Coast Guard boat operations. In June, Master Chief Petty Officer Christopher Hinote stepped into the position, and put on the hat replacing Master Chief Petty Officer Kirk McKay, who formerly held the position since 2016 and had retired.
The Ancient Keeper is ultimately responsible for the oversight of boat operations as well as upholding the tradition of professionalism, pride and excellence known when executing Coast Guard missions. The Ancient Keeper award is named after Capt. Joshua James, the most celebrated lifesaver in the Coast Guard’s history who saved 626 lives. According to the Joshua James Ancient Keeper Award Announcement ALCOAST 060/21, “The Ancient Keeper represents all keepers who continue to live by the creed of those that have served before them. They continue to go to the sea’s rocky realm at extreme peril to their own lives, in pursuit of the safety and security of others, in performance of our Coast Guard missions.”
Hinote exemplifies the spirit of the position’s criteria having served in the Coast Guard for 27 years and specifically within boat forces for 24 cumulative years. Hinote is currently serving in the position from Station Humboldt Bay, California. “I have always liked search and rescue and law enforcement. I wanted to serve my country and the Coast Guard gave me the opportunity to do that while also serving the public,” said Hinote. “It’s been an honor building a lifetime of memories with my shipmates and completing so many successful missions together.
As the Ancient Keeper, Hinote is also responsible for chairing the Boat Forces Advisory Council (BFAC) to ensure that the unique requirements of boat forces units are recognized throughout the Coast Guard. The BFAC reviews training, operating doctrine, mishaps, and policies, and serves as a sounding board for all boat forces issues. Council members serve as a communication conduit between the field and the program to ensure program leadership is continually linked to the needs of the boat forces community. The council members are selected by the Joshua James Ancient Keeper with input from the Office of Boat Forces. New members to the council are currently being solicited and the Solicitation for the Boat Forces Advisory Council (BFAC) ALCOAST 267/21 details the selection criteria and process. Command endorsements need to be received by Sept. 1, 2021.
“Being the Joshua James Ancient Keeper gives me the opportunity to represent the boat forces community and effect change,” said Hinote. “I have a list of what I want to accomplish in this position but for the most part my goal is to leave it, and boat forces, better than I found it.”