Change of command ceremony for Coast Guard Cutter Reliance

BOSTON – Cmdr. Gregory A. Burg will take over for Cmdr. Webster D. Balding as commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Reliance during a ceremony at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Burg previously held the position of assistant chief of law enforcement for the 11th Coast Guard District in Alameda, Calif.

During Balding’s two years in command, the Reliance crew completed two North Atlantic fisheries and maritime domain awareness patrols, five Caribbean counter drug and alien migrant interdiction patrols, and completed two tailored annual cutter trainings, where the crew earned and was awarded the Atlantic Area Commander’s Operational Excellence Award.

Under Balding’s leadership, Reliance played a large role in several mission areas. In particular, Reliance battled 35-knot winds and 12-foot seas to rescue the disabled sailing vessel Taloa and its two elderly passengers who had been adrift for three days. During the same storm, Reliance established a tow on the disabled 135-foot Puerto Rican passenger ferry Vieques II. The actions of Reliance saved the multi-million dollar vessel and the six-person crew.

On their most recent patrol to the Caribbean, the Reliance crew completed three weeks of training at the tailored annual cutter training, averaging 99 percent on every drill and earning a “clean sweep” in all warfare areas. They also conducted alien migrant operations and participated as the sole Coast Guard unit at the U.S. Navy Fleet Week in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

During their 1,400-mile transit home, Reliance was diverted when the sailing vessel Wolf began taking on water and sinking 200 miles off the coast of South Carolina. Four people were saved hours after they made their initial distress call and activating their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon.

During alien migration interdiction operations, Reliance provided humanitarian relief as a holding platform for more than 600 migrants. On one such patrol, Reliance was honored by a visit from the deputy secretary of Homeland Security, Paul A. Schneider.

Balding was recently selected for promotion to the rank of captain. He will be promoted at the reception following the change of command ceremony. He is in receipt of orders as a Coast Guard special advisor in the office of the assistant secretary of defense, office of homeland defense and America’s security at the Pentagon.

Regardless of the mission, Reliance lived up to its nickname as “First in the Fleet.” It is the first 210-foot cutter built of its class and leads the Atlantic Area Major Cutter Fleet in all mission areas.

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