CAPE MAY, N.J. – The Coast Guard’s only basic training facility, and one of the largest military bases in the region, held a change-of-command ceremony, Friday.
Capt. Owen Gibbons relieved Capt. Todd Prestidge as commanding officer of Training Center Cape May during the ceremony.
Rear Adm. David G. Throop, the commander of Coast Guard Force Readiness Command in Norfolk, Va., presided over the ceremony.
Prestidge has been the commanding officer for the Coast Guard’s only enlisted accession point for more than three years where he was responsible for the initial training of nearly 20 percent of the Coast Guard’s more than 40,000 current active duty and reserve enlisted service members.
“My professional and personal goal was to become the Commanding Officer of Training Center Cape May,” said Prestidge. “I wrote that goal on a yellow post-it note and carried it with me through numerous deployments and units before I accomplished it. Now, after nearly three years, I leave with a full heart. I am proud of what we accomplished here. I am proud of the team and of the 7,500 graduates of this training facility that I had the honor of watching their first steps in the Coast Guard be the right steps. What a journey it has been.”
Prestidge’s next duty assignment will be as the Executive Assistant to the Assistant Commandant of Human Resources in Washington, D.C.
Some of Prestidge’s notable accomplishments while stationed in Cape May include his work with the Coast Guard Community Festival Committee, which organized the inaugural, and the 2nd annual Coast Guard Community Festival, which celebrated the long and proud history the Coast Guard shares with Cape May County. Additionally, Prestidge was proud to be the recipient of the Coast Guard Civil Rights Senior Leadership Award. This award recognized his commitment to a positive command climate and discrimination-free work environment.
Gibbons reports to Training Center Cape May from the Leadership Development Center in New London, Ct., where he served as the Officer Candidate School Chief. He also has an extensive operational background having served aboard numerous cutters, accumulating nearly 14 years at sea, including the CGC Point Francis, CGC William Tate and CGC Willow, where he served as a commanding officer.
More than 80 percent of the Coast Guard’s workforce started their careers at Training Center Cape May, which is also Cape May County’s largest employer and has an estimated economic impact of more than $173 million annually.
The change of command is a time-honored tradition aboard ships and shore commands. It represents a total transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another. The core of the event is the formal passing of command in the presence of the entire crew, leaving no doubt as to who has assumed the mantle of authority.