Coast Guard Cutter Bear receives new commander

Coast Guard Cmdr. Jeff Ferlauto salutes Cmdr. Donald Terkanian during a change of command ceremony aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bear in Portsmouth, Virginia, Sept. 16, 2020. The change of command ceremony is a revered military tradition, which formally restates the continuity and authority of a command. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Guy Brunell III.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Jeff Ferlauto salutes Cmdr. Donald Terkanian during a change of command ceremony aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bear in Portsmouth, Virginia, Sept. 16, 2020. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Guy Brunell III.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Cmdr. Jeff Ferlauto relieved Cmdr. Donald Terkanian as commander of the Coast Guard Cutter Bear (WMEC 901) during a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Base Portsmouth Wednesday.

Ferlauto is a native of Massachusetts and enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1998. He now returns to Bear, where he first served as an enlisted member before attending Officer Candidate School.

He arrives from the West Coast, where he was the executive officer of USCGC Stratton (WMSL 752). His previous afloat assignments include deck watch officer on USCGC Chase (WMEC 718), operation officer on USCGC Juniper (WLB 201) and USCGC Campbell (WMEC 909), and executive officer of USCGC Vigilant. His previous staff tours include the 17th District Office of Aids to Navigation in Juneau, Alaska, Office of Internal Control (CG-85) at Coast Guard Headquarters, and comptroller and operations department head at Base Alameda, California.

Ferlauto is a certified public accountant and a graduate of Northwestern University with a master’s degree in business administration and earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in criminal justice and corrections from Wagner College.

Terkanian will be the new division chief for Drug and Migrant Interdiction at Coast Guard Headquarters. Before assuming command of Bear, Terkanian served as deputy chief, U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area cutter forces in Portsmouth. His other previous afloat tours include deck watch officer aboard USCGC Campbell (WMEC 909), executive officer aboard USCGC Seneca (WMEC 906), and as commanding officer USCGC Manowar (WPB 87330), USCGC Aquidneck (WPB 1309) in the Arabian Gulf, and USCGC Jefferson Island (WPB 1340).

His shoreside assignments include search and rescue controller and command duty officer for the Coast Guard 1st District in Boston and the final commanding officer of Training Team East in Portsmouth. Terkanian earned his commission from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 2000 as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in government.

Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of operations, Coast Guard Atlantic Area, on behalf of Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, Atlantic Area commander traveling for Hurricane Sally, presided over the ceremony.

This change of command comes on the heels of a very successful joint patrol off Atlantic Africa, working with the Cabo Verdean coast guard to deter illegal fishing and other illicit criminal activity.

Cabo Verde is an island nation off of West Africa, surrounded by vast ocean. The shiprider program, made possible by a bilateral agreement between the two countries, adds another tool for enforcement capability. With this program, local law enforcement can board U.S. and foreign ships and conduct boardings. This action deters illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing, or foreign vessels entering territorial waters illegally. The team conducted three joint boardings and queried five ships considered suspicious. Additional information on the Coast Guard’s IUU Fishing Strategic outlook can be found at

Bear is a 270-foot, medium endurance cutter whose crew has been serving the American public diligently since its commissioning in 1983. Notably, the Bear crew conducted over 65 operational deployments, numerous major drug seizures, and countless search and rescue operations, including combing over 1,900 square nautical miles of ocean in response to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Bear takes its name from Revenue Cutter Bear, commissioned in 1874. The original Bear served in both World Wars and became the first American law enforcement presence in newly purchased Alaska, making history by leading the famous Overland Expedition to rescue whalers trapped at Barrow Point.

Today, Bear’s crew respects their namesake’s historic legacy by protecting America’s borders, marine resources, and citizens. Their motto is “Summa Potentia Per Facilitatem,” – “Greater Strength Through Versatility.”

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition and formal ritual conducted before the assembled company of a command to confirm to the unit’s men and women 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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