Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur to hold change of command ceremony

PORT ARTHUR, Texas (D8 Public Affairs) – Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur is scheduled to host a change-of-command ceremony at the Holiday Inn Plaza in Beaumont, Texas, July 2 at 10 a.m.

During the change-of-command ceremony, Capt. John Plunkett will assume the responsibilities of Commanding Officer of MSU Port Arthur from Capt. Thomas Sparks. Rear Adm. Joel Whitehead, Eighth Coast Guard District commander, is scheduled to preside over the ceremony.

The Commanding Officer of MSU Port Arthur is responsible for an area extending from High Island, Texas, east into Louisiana 47 miles east of the Calcasieu Locks, north to the Oklahoma border, and south to the Exclusive Economic Zone boundary approximately 200 miles off-shore.

The Commanding Officer of MSU Port Arthur authorities include: Captain of the Port; Officer In-Charge of Marine Inspection; Federal Maritime Security Coordinator; and Federal On-Scene Coordinator. MSU Port Arthur includes 331 active duty, reservist, and civilian members.

The incoming commanding officer arrives with 21-years of experience and previous operational assignments, which include:

* Deputy Sector Commander of Sector Long Island Sound located in New Haven, Conn.
* Chief of Operations at Marine Safety Office Mobile located in Mobile, Ala.
* Chief of the Inspections Department at Marine Safety Office Mobile located in Mobile, Ala.
* Marine inspector at Marine Safety Office Portland located in Portland, Ore.

Plunkett is a 1987 graduate from the Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science. He graduated in 1995 from John Hopkins University with a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering. Plunkett recently attended the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he received a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.

Plunkett’s awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Coast Guard Commendation Medal, the 9-11 Medal, and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal.

Sparks has been the Commanding Officer of MSU Port Arthur since June 2006, and will next serve as Commander, Coast Guard Sector Guam.

The change-of-command is a time-honored tradition that formally restates to the officers and enlisted personnel of the unit the continuity and authority of command. It is a formal ritual conducted before the assembled personnel of the unit. It confirms to the men and women of the unit that the authority of command is maintained. The ceremony is a transfer of total responsibility, authority and accountability from one individual to another.

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