New captain at the helm of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy

Capt. John Reeves, former commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, receives the Meritorious Service Medal from Vice Adm. Charles Ray, the Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, for his service aboard the Healy during a change-of-command ceremony in Seattle, June 3, 2015. Reeves took command of the Healy in 2011, and is retiring to Washington State. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross)

Capt. John Reeves receives the Meritorious Service Medal from Vice Adm. Charles Ray for his service aboard the Healy. Reeves is retiring to Washington State. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross)

SEATTLE – Capt. Jason Hamilton took command of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy from Capt. John Reeves at a change of command ceremony aboard the cutter at Coast Guard Base Seattle, Wednesday.

Vice Adm. Charles Ray, commander, Pacific Area and Defense Force West, presided.

Reeves retired from his 23-year Coast Guard career upon his relief as commanding officer and will remain in Washington State.

Under Reeves’ leadership, the crew of Healy conducted two Arctic deployments and covered over 42,100 nautical miles with 10 months at sea. He and his crew aided Bureau of Ocean Energy Management researchers with the collection of benthic and pelagic specimens including the development of an ecological profile of the biologically rich and diverse Hanna Shoal region of the Chukchi Sea. This vital data documented the critical ecology and contributed to a decision by president of the United States to protect it, prohibiting future energy exploration in the area.

Additionally, Reeves expertly led the search and rescue of the 41-foot sailing vessel Altan Girl, beset in shifting ice floes 40 miles northeast of Barrow, Alaska. Under his seasoned operational prowess, Healy’s crew safely negotiated 245 nautical miles of rapidly changing ice-covered waters in less than 24 hours to render assistance. The cutter’s crew broke the vessel free and safely towed it to open water.

Reeves is a 1992 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and a native of Fairbanks, Alaska. His assignments include six underway tours, including two others aboard Healy as the engineering officer and executive officer.

Hamilton is arriving from the Coast Guard 13th District Office where he served as the staff judge advocate and head of the legal department.

His previous assignments include four underway tours, including operations officer aboard the cutter Polar Star and executive officer aboard cutter Polar Sea. He is a qualified polar-class ice pilot who has participated in multiple Antarctic, Arctic and Great Lakes ice breaking missions, including the first U.S./Russian joint break-in and resupply of McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Hamilton is a 1993 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and a 2000 graduate of the University of Washington School of Law.

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition, which formally restates to the officers and crew the continuity of the authority vested in the commanding officer. This unique military ritual represents a total transfer of responsibility, authority, and accountability from one leader to the next. Photos of the ceremony are available here.

Healy, commissioned in 2000, is the nation’s newest and largest polar icebreaker. The cutter is 420-feet long and has extensive scientific capabilities. Homeported in Seattle, the cutter has a permanent crew of 79; its primary mission is scientific support. In addition, Healy’s crew is capable of other Coast Guard operations such as search and rescue, environmental protection, and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the Polar Regions.

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