Cutter Healy change of command Friday

SEATTLE – The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy will conduct a change of command ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday at the Integrated Support Command at Pier 36.

Capt. Fredrick Sommer will take command of the nation’s largest icebreaker, and the Coast Guard’s largest ship, USCGC Healy, from Capt. Ted Lindström who has commanded Healy since 2006. The traditional ceremony will highlight the continuity of command as the responsibility for the Healy and its crew passes from one individual to the next. Radm. John Currier, the commander of the Coast Guard’s 13th District, which covers the Pacific Northwest will preside over the ceremony.

Captain Sommer is a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. Upon graduation he reported to the USCGC Polar Sea, based here in Seattle. He went on to serve on several smaller ice breakers on the east coast before serving as the Executive Officer of the USCGC Midgett also based in Seattle. During his shore assignments, Captain Sommer pursued a civil engineering career and completed a Masters of Science in Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Captain Sommer’s military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, four Coast Guard Commendation Medals, and two Coast Guard Achievement Medals. Captain Sommer spent most of his childhood in Honolulu, San Diego, and Seattle and is a graduate of Newport High School in Bellevue, Washington. He is married to the former Valerie Nelson of Cushing, Wisconsin. They have two teenage sons, Steven and Christopher.

Captain Lindström is a 1978 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree with High Honors in Marine Science. Upon graduation he reported to the USCGC Resolute in Alameda, Calif. He went on to serve on numerous cutters, commanding several, including the USCGC Midgett based here in Seattle. Captain Lindström’s assignments ashore have been varied. After completing his Masters of Science degree in Operations Research at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., he taught at the Coast Guard Academy as an Associate Professor in the Mathematics Department. Captain Lindström’s military awards include four Meritorious Service Medals, four Coast Guard Commendation Medals, and three Coast Guard Achievement Medals. A native of Martinez, California, Captain Lindström is married to the former Lynila Gunter of Sacramento, Calif. They have four children and four grandchildren and reside in Port Orchard, Wash.

The Healy is the newest and largest of the nation’s three heavy icebreakers and the only one with extensive scientific capabilities. The 420-foot cutter was commissioned in 2000 and has a permanent crew of 80. Scientific support is its primary mission, but as a Coast Guard Cutter, Healy is also a capable platform for supporting other potential missions in the Polar Regions, including logistics support, search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection, and the enforcement of laws and treaties. There is much speculation as to what will happen in the Arctic if less ice leads to more shipping and human activity in the region. When speaking of the future, Admiral Thad Allen, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, has said that “Icebreakers will have an important role to play.”

The Healy will be departing Seattle on the June 25 to commence her second 2008 deployment. The ship is headed first to the Bering Sea to continue ecological work started during her spring deployment, and then on to the Arctic Ocean for a suite of four missions that focus on the deployment of scientific moorings and mapping America’s Extended Continental Shelf.

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