Rear Admiral Joel D. Sipes became Chief, Office of Marine Safety, Security and Environmental Protection at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., in May, 1988. He directs a coordinated federal port safety and security program; an active marine environmental protection program; a program for the construction, inspection and certification of merchant vessels; the development of comprehensive marine safety standards; the licensing and certificating of U.S. merchant marine personnel; and represents the U.S. in various related international maritime forums.
Since graduating from the Coast Guard Academy in 1959, Rear Admiral Sipes has served in a variety of assignments including the All-Coast Guard Rifle and Pistol Detachment; Deck Watch Officer and Student Engineer on the icebreaker Eastwind; Assistant Engineer on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bibb; and Tactics Officer at the Coast Guard Academy. He compiled and published the text on military leadership used for a number of years in Coast Guard officer training programs.
Rear Admiral Sipes’ assignments in the marine safety field have included Engineering Inspector at Marine Inspection Office, Baltimore, Maryland; Commanding Officer, Marine Inspection Detachment, Lake Charles, Louisiana; Branch Chief in the Marine Environmental Protection Division at Headquarters; Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection and Captain of the Port, Corpus Christi, Texas; and Captain of the Port, Houston, Texas. Rear Admiral Sipes also served on the Eighth Coast Guard District staff as Chief of Operations and Chief of Staff.
Rear Admiral Sipes earned a Masters of Public Administration degree from the University of Rhode Island and was elected to Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society. His decorations include two Meritorious Service Medals, five Coast Guard Commendation Medals, and the Distinguished Marksman Badge.
He is a member of the American Society of Naval Engineers, American Bureau of Shipping, International Cargo Gear Bureau, Marine Index Bureau, Marine Engineering Council of Underwriters Laboratories and the Sealift Committee of the National Defense Transportation Association.
During the past 2 decades, RADM Sipes has represented the United States as a member of delegations to the International Maritime Organization, a U.N. specialized agency. He was delegation secretary for the 1973 International Marine Pollution Conference, and U.S. spokesman in negotiating MARPOL ’73. He was U.S. Co-chairman of the U.S./USSR Bilateral on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and the U.S./France Bilateral on Pollution of the Marine Environment. Currently, RADM Sipes heads U.S. delegations to meetings of both the Maritime Safety Committee and the Marine Environment Protection Committee of IMO.
RADM Sipes, a resident of Texas, grew up in Alexandria, Virginia where he now resides with his wife, the former Ruth Ann G. of Wahoo, Nebraska. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska. They have two grown children: Stephanie and Jeffrey. In his spare time, RADM Sipes enjoys hunting and fishing; also racquetball and jogging.