Coast Guard welcomes new commander to Sector Puget Sound

Capt. Patrick Hilbert and Capt. Mark McDonnell shake hands, concluding a change of command ceremony held at Base Seattle, June 15, 2023. Capt. McDonnell assumed command of Sector Puget Sound, relieving Capt. Hilbert who was recognized for his numerous accomplishments while in command. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Steve Strohmaier)

Capt. Patrick Hilbert and Capt. Mark McDonnell shake hands, concluding a change of command ceremony held at Base Seattle, June 15, 2023.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Steve Strohmaier)

SEATTLE — Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound held a change of command ceremony Thursday morning at Coast Guard Base Seattle.

During the ceremony, Capt. Mark McDonnell relieved Capt. Patrick Hilbert as commander of Sector Puget Sound.

Rear Adm. Mel Bouboulis, commander, 13th Coast Guard District, presided over the ceremony.

Sector Puget Sound’s area of responsibility extends from the Pacific Coast of Washington State to the eastern boundary of Montana. It includes a 125-mile maritime international boundary with Canada, as well as a multitude of Tribal Nations.

Capt. McDonnell will now oversee the operations of eight Coast Guard cutters, five small boat stations, one air station, one aids to navigation team, and the largest Vessel Traffic Service in the United States.

“It’s a tremendous honor to join the outstanding team of Coast Guard members at Sector Puget Sound,” said Capt. McDonnell. “I am very excited to work with our maritime partners in the region to serve the citizens of the Pacific Northwest.”

Capt. McDonnell’s most recent tour was in Seattle as the 13th District’s Chief of Response, helping prevent marine disasters in the seas off Oregon and Washington, and the Columbia River.

“I am incredibly proud to have served as Sector Puget Sound’s Captain of the Port as the capstone to my 32 years of Coast Guard Service,” said Capt. Hilbert. “I have been fortunate to watch our selfless men and women execute our mission of protecting the people and waters of the greater Puget Sound region every day, and I know I’m leaving the region in good hands with Capt. McDonnell.”

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored military tradition that marks a transfer of total responsibility and authority from one individual to another. The ceremony is conducted in order to formally demonstrate the continuity of authority within a U.S. military command.


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