Coast Guard Cutter Eagle holds change of command ceremony

Coast Guard Tall Ship Eagle file photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ruben Reed

Coast Guard Tall Ship Eagle file photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ruben Reed

KEY WEST, Fla. — Capt. Jessica Rozzi-Ochs relieved Capt. Michael Turdo as the commanding officer of USCGC Eagle (WIX 327) during a change of command ceremony on Friday.

Eagle is moored in Key West as it conducts its annual summer cadet training cruise.

The commander of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, Vice Adm. Kevin Lunday, presided over the ceremony.

Turdo will report for duty as the assistant superintendent of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He served as the commanding officer of Eagle from July 2019 to June 2022. Over his career, he accumulated 13 years of sea duty across seven cutters, commanding four of them.

“It has been a pleasure to serve with the outstanding women and men of USCGC Eagle,” said Turdo. “Their professionalism, seamanship, and dedication to our service were evident in every aspect of our efforts to train future generations of Coast Guard officers and interact with the public as an ambassador of our Service.”

“Capt. Turdo’s vision and leadership were vital over the past three years as he guided the women and men of Eagle in the training of hundreds of cadets and officer candidates, care of ‘America’s Tall Ship,’ and navigating the complexities of operations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lunday. “His efforts went beyond the cutter. Capt. Turdo’s collaboration with the Coast Guard Academy and the Loy Institute for Leadership greatly enhanced the training and development of over 2,500 future military officers and enhanced the readiness of our Service.”

Rozzi-Ochs most recently served as the deputy chief of Congressional Affairs in Washington, D.C. In that role, she advanced Coast Guard strategic budget and legislative priorities by advocating and facilitating interactions with members of Congress, and advising senior leadership on appropriations, authorizations, and impacts of policy decisions. Rozzi-Ochs is the first woman to command the Eagle in the cutter’s 86-year history.

“I’m excited to serve alongside my new shipmates aboard USCGC Eagle,” said Rozzi-Ochs. “This historic cutter is a key component of how our Service trains future leaders on the fundamentals of navigation, seamanship, and how to work as a team under demanding conditions. Capt. Turdo has done an excellent job and I look forward to continuing his legacy of superb leadership.”

“I’m honored to welcome Eagle’s new commanding officer. She is the service’s top choice to command Eagle based on her proven command and leadership abilities and deep career experience as a cutterman. And she happens to be a woman, which makes her taking command historic, but not a surprise” said Lunday. “Our commandant says, ‘Tomorrow looks different. So will we.’ Capt. Rozzi-Ochs is proof of the commandant’s charge, and reinforces how the Coast Guard fosters a diverse and inclusive culture and workforce that reflects the public we serve.”

At 295 feet in length, the Eagle is the largest tall ship flying the stars and stripes in United States government service. The Eagle has served as a classroom at sea to future Coast Guard officers since 1946, offering an at-sea leadership and professional development experience as part of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy curriculum.

The Eagle is a three-masted barque with more than 22,300 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging. The cutter was constructed in 1936, by the Blohm and Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. Originally commissioned as the Horst Wessel by the German navy, the Eagle is a war reparation for the United States following World War II.

A change of command is a military tradition representing a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding or flag officer to another. The passing of colors, standards, or ensigns from an outgoing commander to an incoming one ensures that the unit and its members are never without official leadership, a continuation of trust.

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