Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley holds change of command ceremony

Rear Adm. Meredith Austin, deputy commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, presides over a change of command ceremony for the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley in Kodiak, Alaska, to welcome Cmdr. Seth Denning, the incoming commanding officer, and bid farewell to Cmdr. Stephen White, the outgoing commanding officer, July 9, 2015. The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition that ensures the continuity of command. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Dale Arnould)

KODIAK, Alaska — Cmdr. Stephen White transferred command of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley to Cmdr. Seth Denning during a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Base Kodiak Thursday.

The ceremony was presided over by Rear Adm. Meredith Austin, deputy commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area.

White assumed command of the Alex Haley in 2013. He will transfer to Santa Monica, California to participate in an executive fellowship at the RAND Corporation. White’s personal military awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, four Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and two Coast Guard Achievement Medals

“Serving as commanding officer of the Alex Haley for the past two years has been the most rewarding tour of my career,” said White. “The crew aboard this ship has always impressed me by what they do but, most importantly, the way they do it. It truly has been an honor to serve among them.”

Denning was previously assigned as executive officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon, where he also completed a tour as the engineer officer. Denning graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1996, earning a Bachelor of Science in Naval Engineering. He later earned a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington in 2003. Denning is a member of the American Society of Naval Engineers and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. Denning’s personal awards include the five Coast Guard Commendation Medals, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals and various other unit and service awards.

“Having heard much about the Alex Haley’s outstanding crew I am eager to be a part of this team,” said Denning, who relocated to Kodiak with his wife and three children. “My family and I are excited to take advantage of the many unique opportunities Kodiak has to offer. After such a warm welcome to the island, we understand why the community has so much pride for their city.”

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition that ensures the continuity of command. It is a formal ceremony conducted before the entire crew. The ceremony marks the transfer of total responsibility, authority and accountability for the cutter and the accomplishment of its assigned mission. It is conducted according to a formally prescribed ritual, to honor and maintain traditions of the service.

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