Coast Guard Cutter Healy holds change-of-command ceremony

Capt. Jason Hamilton (left), former commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, and Capt. Greg Tlapa (right), incoming commanding officer of the Healy, shakes hands with Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, who presided over their change-of-command ceremony at Base Seattle, June 22, 2017. The change-of-command ceremony is a military tradition, conducted in front of the unit’s crew, that formally signifies the transfer of responsibility and authority from an outgoing commander to an incoming commander. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

Capt. Jason Hamilton (left), former commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, and Capt. Greg Tlapa (right), incoming commanding officer of the Healy, shakes hands with Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, who presided over their change-of-command ceremony at Base Seattle, June 22, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

SEATTLE — Coast Guard Capt. Greg Tlapa relieved Capt. Jason Hamilton as the commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Healy in a ceremony at Coast Guard Base Seattle, Thursday.

Tlapa reported from the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he served as a professor of Joint Military Operations, and Hamilton assumed the role of chief of response for the Coast Guard 13th District.

Throughout his two year tour, Hamilton lead the crew in support of five distinct scientific missions over two Arctic deployments, fulfilled U.S. diplomatic goals through international engagement with the crew of the German icebreaker Polarstern and by collecting samples from Alpha Ridge in support of Canadian Arctic research, as well as transited unaccompanied over 16,000 miles to become the first U.S. surface vessel to reach the North Pole in a solo expedition.

On their Arctic West Summer 2015 deployment, the crew joined members of the Coast Guard Research and Development Center to research Arctic technologies, including remotely operated vehicles, small unmanned aerial systems, an autonomous underwater vehicle and an unmanned surface vehicle. They also collaborated with the National Science Foundation and Geotraces in support of the international effort to study the distribution of trace elements in the world’s oceans and to establish the effects of those elements on global climate change.

On their Arctic West Summer 2016 deployment, the crew participated in three groundbreaking scientific Arctic studies. The first included the discovery of multiple new jellyfish species. The second scientific study included collaboration with researchers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the Office of Naval Research to collect data on how climate change and the decreased ice coverage are affecting the Arctic Ocean. The third included collaboration with researchers from the University of New Hampshire, in support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the State Department and the White House Office of Science and Technology, to conduct a hydrographic survey of the extended continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea, data which was necessary to extend U.S. territory and sovereign rights over the sea floor.

Vice Adm. Fred Midgette, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Force West, presided over the ceremony.

Commissioned in 2000 and measuring 420 feet, the Healy is the longest U.S. polar icebreaker. Homeported in Seattle, the cutter is manned by a permanent crew of 85 Coast Guard men and women.

While their primary mission is scientific support, they are capable of augmenting and supporting all other statutory Coast Guard missions, such as search and rescue, environmental protection, and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the polar regions.

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