Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star holds change-of-command ceremony

Capt. Michael Davanzo and Capt. Matthew Walker shake hands after Davanzo relieved Walker of command of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, a 399-foot polar-class icebreaker homeported in Seattle, during a formal ceremony presided over by Vice Adm. Charles Ray, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, held at Coast Guard Base Seattle, July 14, 2016. Under Walker’s command the crew of the Polar Star, the nation’s only heavy icebreaker capable of operating in the thick Antarctic ice, rescued the 26-person crew of the fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain, after the vessel was disabled and beset by ice. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

Capt. Michael Davanzo and Capt. Matthew Walker shake hands after Davanzo relieved Walker of command of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star July 14, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross.

SEATTLE — The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star held a change-of-command Thursday at Coast Guard Base Seattle followed by a retirement ceremony for the departing commanding officer.

Capt. Micheal J. Davanzo, took over command of the Polar Star from Capt. Matthew R. Walker.

Following the change of command Walker retired from the Coast Guard after 34 years that included commanding officer positions for the Coast Guard Cutters Manitou, Steadfast and the Polar Star.

Under Walker’s command, the Polar Star achieved the following accomplishments during Operation Deep Freeze 2015:

In February, 2015 the cutter freed the fishing vessel Antarctic Chieftain stranded in ice 900 miles northwest of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Polar Star took the vessel in a stern tow surrounded by 12 to 15 feet of thickened ice covered in two feet of snow.

The Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft recognized three enlisted crewmembers for their ingenuity and stamina repairing the cutter’s generators with a surfboard kit and round-the- clock welding brackets in the engine room. Without these critical repairs to the aging engine, the cutter would have been unable to complete its Antarctic support mission.

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition which formally restates the continuity of command will be maintained and is a formal ritual conducted before the assembled company of command. It conveys to the officers, enlisted members, civilian employees and auxiliary members of the Coast Guard that although the authority of command is relinquished by a leader and is assumed by another, it is still maintained without interruption.

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