Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane welcomes new commanding officer

Cmdr. Dorothy Hernaez receives a Meritorious Service Medal for service as commanding officer of the USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) presented in a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Base Portsmouth, Virginia, April 21, 2021. Vice Admiral Steven Poulin, the Atlantic Area commander presided over the event. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Katy Kilroy/Released)

Cmdr. Dorothy Hernaez receives a Meritorious Service Medal for service as commanding officer of the USCGC Harriet Lane, April 21, 2021 (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Katy Kilroy)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Cmdr. Benjamin Goff relieved Cmdr. Dorothy Hernaez as commanding officer of the USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC 903) in a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Base Portsmouth, Wednesday.

Vice Admiral Steven Poulin, the Atlantic Area commander, presided over the event.

Goff reported to Harriet Lane from the Coast Guard’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, and Intelligence (C51) Service Center in Portsmouth, where he served as the Command, Control, and Navigation product line manager. A native of Massachusetts, he graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 2002.

Goff’s previous tours afloat include executive officers on the USCGC Chandeluer (WPB 1319) and USCGC Bear (WMEC 901). He was the commanding officer of the USCGC Pea Island (WPB 1347) and USCGC Nantucket (WPB 1317). He has also served ashore as deputy chief for Eastern Pacific Intelligence Targeting at Joint Interagency Task Force South.

Hernaez will be reporting to her next assignment in Washington, D.C., where she will serve as the Coast Guard’s liaison to the House of Representatives. She took command of Harriet Lane in June 2019, after serving as the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s chief of operations law.

Hernaez’s previous afloat assignments include deck watch officer aboard the USCGC Vigilant (WMEC 617), operations officer of USCGC Kukui (WLB 203), and operations officer of USCGC Waesche (WMSL 751). Her staff tours include U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, as legal counsel to the Director of International Affairs and Foreign Policy and legal advisor to the Chief of Law Enforcement and U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area Command as a staff attorney.

A native of Connecticut, Hernaez holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, graduating in 2002, and a Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude Georgetown University.

During her tour aboard Harriet Lane, Hernaez led the cutter in upholding the unit’s unofficial motto, “The Desired Affect,” through the safe navigation of 58,192 nautical miles, including six transits of the Panama Canal and patrols in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean. Notably, Harriet Lane’s law enforcement teams apprehended eight drug-smuggling vessels on the high seas, resulting in the detention of 28 suspected traffickers, seizure of 11,000 pounds of marijuana, and 12,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $223 million.

“It has been an honor to serve as the commanding officer of Harriet Lane these past two years,” said Hernaez. “The crew excelled at every mission we were tasked with. I could not be more proud of the impact they have had in carrying out our national homeland security objectives with utmost precision and professionalism. Even with the challenge of remaining operationally effective through the COVID-19 pandemic, this crew has answered the call and was always ready. I am thrilled to be relieved by Cmdr. Goff who is a Coast Guard Academy classmate of mine. I have known him for many years, and I know he will lead this talented crew to future success.”

Harriet Lane is a multi-mission 270-foot medium endurance cutter homeported at Base Portsmouth. The crew is responsible for various Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties; maritime defense; and marine environmental protection. The versatility of the Famous-class cutter makes it a cost-effective platform in carrying out national homeland security objectives.

The change-of-command ceremony is a historic military tradition representing the formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another. The event reinforces the continuity of command and provides an opportunity to recognize the crew’s accomplishments.


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