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Press Release | June 13, 2023

Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley holds change of command ceremony

KODIAK, Alaska — Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley (WMEC-39) and crew held a change of command ceremony, Tuesday, in Kodiak. 

Cmdr. Steven Baldovsky relieved Cmdr. Brian Whisler as the new commanding officer of the Alex Haley, in which Vice Adm. Andrew J. Tiongson, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, presided over the ceremony. 

“I am honored to assume command of Alex Haley from Cmdr. Whisler and continue Alex Haley’s great legacy and success across the Bering Sea,” said Baldovsky. 

Baldovsky received his commission from the Coast Guard Academy in 2006 and earned a Master of Business Administration from Columbia College, and a Master of Operation Studies as the first Coast Guard graduate of the Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting. 

“It has been my true honor to serve as commanding officer of Alex Haley,” said Whisler. “I am especially grateful for the opportunity to have served with this crew, who are some of the hardest working and dedicated Coast Guard men and women I have had the pleasure to work with. Their service has made lasting contributions to Alaska and the Nation.” 

Whisler will transfer to Coast Guard Headquarters where he will serve as the Special Assistant to the Vice Commandant. He served as Alex Haley’s commanding officer from May 2021 to June 2023. Under his command, the Alex Haley made four deployments to the Bering Sea. The crew conducted law enforcement, search and rescue, training, and interagency engagements across 3 million square miles of ocean, helping safeguard the Alaskan fishing industry while projecting U.S. interests in the high latitudes.

The change of command ceremony is a military tradition representing a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding or flag officer to another. The passing of colors, standards, or ensigns from an outgoing commander to an incoming one ensures that the unit and its members are never without official leadership, a continuation of trust. 

The Alex Haley is a 282-foot Medium Endurance Cutter that performs search and rescue, fisheries law enforcement and vessel safety inspections across Alaska and has been homeported in Kodiak since 1999.