NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The U.S. Coast Guard Academy held its 141st commencement in New London with Vice President Kamala Harris as the keynote speaker.

Among the 252 graduates that entered Memorial Field Wednesday for the last time were a dozen cadets from Connecticut and nine international students.

This year’s class consisted of 87 cadets from underrepresented minority groups, including the largest of Asian American and Pacific Islanders to graduate in academy history.

Harris, the first Black and Asian American U.S. vice president, told graduates they were starting their service at a crucial moment.

“You all graduate into a world that needs your leadership,” she said. “You will be doing the critical work to protect our country. The challenges we face are broader than Russia. Around the world, we see additional attempts to undermine the rules-based order.”

After taking their oath of office, the new ensigns received their Bachelor of Science degrees and their U.S. Coast commissions.

The new officers will begin to serve in a variety of roles throughout the Coast Guard, mostly on cutters.

Nine graduating international cadets from the countries of Cambodia, Iceland, Jordan, Mexico, Madagascar, Palau, Panama, Rwanda, and Ukraine will serve in their respective countries of origin.

Like their motto “sempre paradus,” these new ensigns have and will be “always ready.”