ST. IGNACE, Mich. — The Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay received a new commanding officer during a change-of-command ceremony held Tuesday at the Coast Guard Moorings in St. Ignace.
Lt. Thomas Przybyla assumed the duties and responsibilities of commanding officer from Lt. Matthew Walter in a ceremony presided over by Rear Adm. Michael N. Parks, commander of the 9th Coast Guard District.
Przybyla takes command of the Biscayne Bay after serving at the National Command Center at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Upon relief of command, Walter will be assigned to the Command Center at Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston in Houston.
The change-of-command ceremony is a time-honored tradition which formally acknowledges the transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another.
“It was a beautiful day to celebrate the many crew accomplishments over three years under my command,” said Walter. “The community of St. Ignace has treated the crew and our families like neighbors and it will be difficult to leave these wonderful people behind.”
“The accomplishment I am most proud of is the crew’s ability to maintain and operate the cutter Biscayne Bay. We call her the ‘best tug in the fleet’. She earns this designation chiefly because of the sailors who dress her up for the ball and make her dance.”
The cutter Biscayne Bay is homeported in the Straits of Mackinac. This strategic location is important due to the vital role the Mackinac Straits play in connecting the Great Lakes. Raw goods vital to the nation’s economy transit through the lakes year-round, but when winter’s fury freezes the water, commerce can come to a screeching halt. For this primary reason, the cutter Biscayne Bay, a 140-foot ice-breaking tug, was commissioned and put to work. The Biscayne Bay is one of nine Coast Guard cutters on the Great Lakes. From early December through mid-April every year, Lakers call on the services of the Coast Guard cutters to free them from their beset positions in the ice, break-the-way and prevent ice jams from forming in the critical waterways.
The Coast Guard is a multi-mission, maritime, military service and is part of the Department of Homeland Security. It is unique among federal agencies in that it is at all times an armed service, while also a humanitarian, regulatory, law enforcement, environmental and emergency management agency.