Coast Guard District 17 holds change of command ceremony

Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, watches while Rear Adm. Matthew T. Bell Jr., salutes Rear Adm. Michael McAllister, formally assuming command of the Coast Guard 17th District during a change of command ceremony at the Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in Juneau, Alaska, May 9, 2018. A district change of command ceremony is a military tradition that represents formal transfer of authority and responsibility from one flag officer to another. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios.

Vice Adm. Fred M. Midgette, watches while Rear Adm. Matthew T. Bell Jr., salutes Rear Adm. Michael McAllister, formally assuming command of the Coast Guard 17th District during a change of command ceremony May 9, 2018.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios.

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard’s 17th District conducted a change of command ceremony Wednesday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in Juneau.

During the ceremony Rear Adm. Michael McAllister transferred command of the Coast Guard’s 17th District to Rear Adm. Matthew Bell.

As the 17th District commander, Bell will be responsible for all Coast Guard operations throughout Alaska, the North Pacific and the Arctic which includes protecting life and property, enforcing federal laws and treaties, preserving living marine resources, and promoting national security. Headquartered in Juneau, the 17th District encompasses 3.8 million square miles and over 47,300 miles of shoreline.

Bell was previously assigned as the commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Personnel Service Center in Washington, D.C., where he was responsible for the execution of the Coast Guard’s human resource policies by recruiting, accessing, assigning, developing careers, compensating, separating and retiring the nearly 45,000 members of the active duty and reserve workforce. Bell is designated a permanent cutterman with over 12 years of service afloat including command tours of Kodiak based Coast Guard cutters Alex Haley and Douglas Munro.

“Having been stationed in Alaska before, I’m excited to be back to serve the people of the Last Frontier,” said Bell. “I’m looking forward to leading the dedicated men and women of the 17th District and building upon the firm foundation of service laid before me by my predecessors.”

McAllister originally took command of the 17th District in June 2016.

If confirmed by Congress, McAllister will be promoted to Vice Admiral and assume the duties as deputy commandant of mission support located at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The change of command ceremony marks a transfer of total responsibility and authority from one individual to another. It is a time-honored tradition conducted before the assembled crew, as well as honored guests and dignitaries to formally demonstrate the continuity of the authority within a command.

During an average year the 2,500 active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary personnel of the 17th District save 264 lives, assists 636 people, reports and investigates 300 marine casualties, performs 888 living marine resource boardings, responds to 264 pollution incidents, services 1,116 buoys and fixed aids to navigation, conducts 156 security boardings and 264 security patrols, performs 1,716 commercial fishing vessel safety exams, saves over $19.8 million in property, teaches 4,500 kids about life jacket wear, and performs 1,140 marine inspections.

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