BALTIMORE -- Retired Admiral John William Kime, former commandant of the Coast Guard who helped develop the government's response to oil spills such as the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989, died Sept. 14 after a long struggle with cancer. He was 72.
Born in Greensboro, N.C., Admiral Kime grew up in Baltimore and was inspired to enter the Coast Guard by a promotional spot that aired during a rain delay at an International League Orioles game in 1952.
He graduated from the academy in New London, Conn., second in his class in 1957.
During his 41-year service career, Admiral Kime commanded the Coast Guard district in Long Beach, Calif., directed operations for the Coast Guard district in Miami, and served as captain of the port in Baltimore, among other assignments, according to an obituary released by the Coast Guard.
He was appointed commandant in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush and served for four years, overseeing 38,000 active-duty Coast Guard members and 5,000 civilian personnel. During his tenure, the Coast Guard refined its role in responding to environmental disasters such as oil spills and aggressively pursued a drug interdiction policy.
"His legacy can be seen today in how the Coast Guard responds to a broad range of threats and hazards to our maritime, homeland, and national security interests," said Admiral Thad Allen, the current commandant, in a statement.
After retiring in 1994, Admiral Kime headed ship management companies in the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden.