New commanding officer aboard Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star

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SEATTLE — Capt. Matthew Walker assumed the duties and responsibilities as commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star from Capt. George Pellissier during a ceremony at Coast Guard Base Seattle, Thursday.

Vice Adm. Charles Ray, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, presided over the ceremony.

Walker is reporting from Afloat Training Group San Diego where he served as the Coast Guard liaison officer.

Pellissier is retiring from the Coast Guard after 27 years of service. During his tour aboard Polar Star, Pellissier led the crew through Polar Stars reactivation period following seven years of caretaker status. After reactivation, Polar Star traveled to the Arctic to conduct ice trials before commencing an intensive crew training cycle. Pellissier then led the crew on Operation Deep Freeze 2014, the annual resupply of McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

Vice Adm. Charles Ray, commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area, stands with Capt. George Pellissier (left), former commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, and Capt. Matthew Walker, commanding officer of Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, during a change-of-command ceremony aboard the Polar Star on Base Seattle, after Walker assumed command from Pellissier, July 17, 2014. Capt. Walker is reporting from the Afloat Training Group San Diego where he served as the Coast Guard liaison officer. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jordan Akiyama.

Vice Adm. Charles Ray stands with Capt. George Pellissier (left), and Capt. Matthew Walker during a change-of-command ceremony aboard the Polar Star on Base Seattle July 17, 2014. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jordan Akiyama.

Polar Star is a 399-foot icebreaker homeported in Seattle. Commissioned in 1976, Polar Star is currently the only heavy icebreaker in service in the United States. The ship was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company of Seattle, Washington, along with her sister ship, Polar Sea. The crew’s missions include close ice escort and logistics support of high latitude outposts. Polar Star also conducts search and rescue and supports scientific research in the Antarctic and Arctic regions.

The change-of-command ceremony is a time-honored tradition deeply rooted in Coast Guard and Naval history. The event signifies a total transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability for the command. All members of the unit attend the ceremony to witness the transfer of leadership.

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