Cutter Block Island welcomes new commanding officer

ATLANTIC BEACH, N.C. – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Block Island welcomed their new commanding officer at a change of command ceremony Thursday at Sector North Carolina in Atlantic Beach.

Lt. J. Grant Thomas Jr. relieved Lt. Cmdr. Michael A. Cilenti as the commanding officer of the 110-foot cutter Block Island.

Thomas’ most recent assignment was in Bahrain as the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Monomoy from 2009 to 2010 as part of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia. Their presence in the Middle East is in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Thomas, a native of Louisville, Ky., graduated from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Biology. He graduated from the Coast Guard’s Officer Candidate School in 2003 and was assigned as a deck watch officer on the Coast Guard Cutter Bear. In 2005 he was assigned as the first commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Tiger Shark. He then served as the military aide to the chief of staff of the Coast Guard. In 2008 he served as the military aide for the Coast Guard Atlantic Area commander, Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., who is now the commandant of the Coast Guard.

Cilenti will be reporting to Coast Guard Congressional Affairs in Washington, D.C.

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