Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu get new Commanding Officer

HONOLULU – Lt. Cmdr. Michelle Hoerster became the second commanding officer of Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu when she took command of the unit from Cmdr. Tom MacDonald during a Change of Command ceremony this morning at the Coast Guard base on Sand Island.

MacDonald, a 1983 Colorado Springs high school graduate, became the first commanding officer of MSST Honolulu in December 2004 when the unit was commissioned into service during a ceremony aboard the Battleship Missouri. During his three-year tenure, personnel from the MSST conducted several hundred safety and security patrols and escorts of vessels and events in the main Hawaiian Island, Guam and American Samoa. MacDonald’s previous assignments include the Coast Guard Cutters Venturous, Steadfast and Hamilton. He served as the executive officer of the Coast Guard buoytender Willow in 1999 during the multi-agency search and recovery for the small plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

MacDonald has participated in several operations which focused Coast Guard resources on intercepting unsafe, overcrowded small boats carrying Haitian and Cuban migrants in the Caribbean Sea. He also served as the boarding officer during an operation that intercepted the motor vessel Fang Ming, which was attempting to smuggle more than 200 migrants from the People’s Republic of China into Mexico.

MacDonald previously served in the U.S. Air Force as an air base ground defense and nuclear weapons system security specialist before being commissioned as an officer in the Coast Guard. MacDonald’s next tour of duty is at the Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he will serve as the coordinator for external engagements.

Lt. Cmdr. Michelle Hoerster came to MSST Honolulu from a tour at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., where she served as a company officer in charge of the daily wellbeing and professional development of more than 1,000 Coast Guard Academy cadets.

Hoerster previously served in several international engagement and law enforcement assignments. She was also instrumental in the initial testing phase and subsequent development of Coast Guard training and qualification doctrine for helicopter delivery of law enforcement teams. Hoerster served at the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command in the International Affairs division in Portsmouth, Va., as the Caribbean Support Tender assistant program manager, where she planned deployments to more than 20 countries, established memorandum of agreements with Panama and the Dominican Republic for professional exchange of shipboard personnel, and coordinated professional exchanges, integrating coast guards from Columbia, Costa Rica and Panama in a culminating joint maritime training exercise.

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