Kodiak Daily Mirror - New commander takes over Alex Haley
  
New commander takes over Alex Haley
by Nicole Klauss/nklauss@kodiakdailymirror.com
Jun 10, 2013 | 59 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cmdr. Kevin Riddle and Cmdr. Stephen White inspect the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley during a change of command ceremony at the Golden Anchor on Coast Guard Base Kodiak June 7, 2013, in Kodiak, Alaska. Riddle has commanded the Alex Haley since 2011 and White is now taking over as the commanding officer. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis)
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Cmdr. Kevin Riddle was relieved of his duties as commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alex Haley during a change of command ceremony at the Golden Anchor on Friday.

His role as leading officer of one of Kodiak’s three Coast Guard cutters was taken by Cmdr. Stephen White.

White arrived from the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area Command in Portsmouth, Va. where he served as the chief of international planning.

Riddle commanded the Kodiak-based cutter Alex Haley for two years and played a key role in operations in the Arctic. “I was proud to sail with you and would not hesitate to sail with you again,” Riddle told Alex Haley’s crew, which attended Friday’s event.

Riddle’s next assignment will take him to Norfolk, Va. where he will attend the Joint Advanced Warfighting School at the Joint Forces Staff College. He will attend school for a year to learn about multinational planning and warfighting.

Riddle said he is looking forward to not being on the seas, so he can spend more time with his wife Stephanie and their 6-year-old son, Grayson.

During his farewell remarks, Riddle thanked his family, the Kodiak community and his fellow Coast Guardsmen.

This is Riddle’s third tour in Kodiak. He previously served as first lieutenant of the Coast Guard cutter Storis and was commanding officer of the North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center in Kodiak.

“I spent one-third of my career in Kodiak,” he said. “It’s surreal to think my career may not bring me back here. There will always be a part of me that calls Kodiak home.”

Vice Adm. Paul Zukunft, commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area, traveled to Kodiak to preside at the ceremony and talk about the mission of the Alex Haley.

“We call her (the Alex Haley) the bull of the Bering, but truth be told, she’s the bull of the Arctic,” he said as he talked about the cutter.

Last summer, the Alex Haley was among the Coast Guard ships deployed to the Arctic Ocean during Operation Arctic Shield.

Zukunft spoke to Riddle’s accomplishments over the last two years, which included patrols in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea, 38 boardings to make sure fishermen were abiding by Coast Guard safety standards, and 11 search-and-rescue cases that saved 26 lives.

Under Riddle’s leadership, the Alex Haley was the first to respond to the grounding of the Kulluk, a Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig, which ran aground in January.

Before the grounding, the Alex Haley was drafted as a tow vessel and tried to keep the Kulluk from landing on Sitkalidak Island. Its tow cable snapped and the Alex Haley was entangled.

Despite the accident, amid 50-to-60-foot waves, the Alex Haley helped evacuate the workers onboard the Kulluk.

“I could not be more proud of what they did,” Zukunft said.

After accepting his orders, White talked about taking over as commanding officer of the Alex Haley.

“I am very excited to join you,” he told the crew of the Alex Haley. White was able to sail with the crew before he took over as commanding officer, and said he was impressed with what he saw on the cutter.

Contact Mirror writer Nicole Klauss at nklauss@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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