Coast Guard Cutter Venturous holds change of command in St. Petersburg

Cmdr. Michael R. Gesele, (right) former commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous, a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter homeported in St. Petersburg, Florida, transfers command Thursday, July 20, 2017 to Cmdr. Matthew M. Chong during a change of command ceremony held in St. Petersburg. Vice Adm. Karl L. Schultz, Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander, (center) presided over the ceremony as Chong relieved Gesele of command. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist Joe Perez)

Cmdr. Michael R. Gesele, (right) former commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous, transfers command Thursday, July 20, 2017 to Cmdr. Matthew M. Chong during a change of command ceremony held in St. Petersburg. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Auxiliarist Joe Perez)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous conducted a change of command ceremony Thursday where Cmdr. Michael R. Gesele transferred command to Cmdr. Matthew M. Chong at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

Vice Adm. Karl L. Schultz, Coast Guard Atlantic Area Commander, presided over the ceremony that was attended by more than 30 guests, including friends and family of both Gesele and Chong.

Gesele took command of Venturous, a 210-foot medium-endurance cutter, homeported in St. Petersburg, in July 2015.

During his command, he was responsible for all facets of the cutter’s multi-mission operational readiness and effective response serving throughout the Straits of Florida, Caribbean Sea, and both the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Oceans, while ensuring the well being, training, and safety of the 76 Coast Guard members aboard.

“It has been an honor leading the crew these past two years,” said Gesele. “The hard work and sacrifices these men and women displayed on a daily basis protecting the American public is truly inspiring, and I could not be more proud of what we accomplished together as a team.”

Gesele will report to Joint Interagency Task Force-South in Key West where he will serve as the Staff Judge Advocate.

Chong reports to the Venturous after an assignment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he served as the training and advisory group’s detachment supervisor and lead operational and training advisor for the Maritime Infrastructure Protection Force.

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition preserving the rich heritage of naval tradition. It is a formal custom that follows military protocol and is designed to strengthen respect for the continuity of command that is vital to any military organization. The culmination of the ceremony is reached when both officers read their orders, face one another, salute, and transfer total responsibility for the command. This provides the entire crew with the knowledge that an officer directed by proper authority is taking command and offers an opportunity to witness this transfer of responsibility.

The Venturous crew serves the American public by primarily working with Central American and Caribbean nations in pursuit of narcotics traffickers and rescuing migrants at sea.

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