Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell to hold change of command on Friday

SAN DIEGO — the San Diego-based Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell is scheduled to hold a change of command ceremony at Naval Base San Diego, Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, will preside over the ceremony where Capt. Edward A. Westfall will assume the duties and responsibilities as commanding officer of the Boutwell from Capt. Jim L. Munro, Jr.

Westfall is reporting from the U.S. European Command where he served as the Arctic Strategy branch chief. He also has 18 years of time at sea aboard eight cutters, four of which he commanded: Red Cedar, William Tate, Aspen and the Escanaba.

Munro, a New Hampshire native, enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1977, eventually advancing to chief petty officer as a quartermaster prior to attending Officer Candidate School and earning his commission in 1987. Throughout his 37-year career he has served aboard nine cutters, four of which he commanded, and accumulated more than 19 years of sea time. After departing Boutwell, he will serve as the chief of Planning and Readiness at the 1st Coast Guard District in Boston.

During his two years aboard the Boutwell, Munro led the 378-foot cutter through two Eastern Pacific counter-narcotics patrols and a deployment to the Bering Sea. Under his command, the Boutwell crew has interdicted or disrupted approximately 3,000 pounds of cocaine, valued at more than $40 million, saved the lives of 12 mariners and protected United States’ living marine resources in Alaska which comprises more than 50 percent of the national catch, valued at $4 billion.

The change-of-command ceremony is a revered military tradition, which formally restates the continuity and authority of command. It is a formal custom conducted before the assembled crew, and 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.

Commissioned in 1968, the Boutwell is one of seven remaining high endurance cutters in service. The ship is named after George Boutwell, the secretary of the treasury under President Ulysses S. Grant. Boutwell’s missions include search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, and drug and migrant interdiction.

The crew of the Boutwell conducted one of the largest at-sea rescues in Coast Guard history in 1980, successfully rescuing more than 500 people from the burning cruise ship Prisendam in the Gulf of Alaska. The Boutwell also played a key role in the defense of oil terminals off the coast of Iraq and Iran in 2003 and conducted counter-piracy operations of the coast of Somalia in 2009.

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