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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Coast Guard held a change of command ceremony for Sector Lower Mississippi River, Friday, at Beale Street Landing in Memphis.
During the ceremony, Capt. Ryan S. Rhodes transferred command of Coast Guard Sector Lower Mississippi River to Capt. Kristi L. Bernstein.
Capt. Rhodes served as commander of Sector Lower Mississippi River since June 2020 and oversaw maritime safety, security and stewardship along 2,200 miles of inland waterways across 6 states. During this time, he managed the response to a catastrophic failure of a critical support beam on the I-40 highway bridge, championed the Vice Commandant directed initiative to pilot the consolidation of two Sector Command Centers, and commissioned the second of five modern small boat stations on the Western Rivers. In 2022, Capt. Rhodes guided response efforts to the historic low water conditions on the Mississippi River and diligently triaged transit of 1,881 impacted towing vessels and 27,830 barges, equating to 50.1 million tons of cargo valued at $1.8 billion.
“It has been an honor to serve as Commander of Sector Lower Mississippi River over the last three years,” said Capt. Rhodes. “I am especially proud of the accomplishments of all our Coast Guard personnel and their associated missions across Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana and Oklahoma. I am also thankful for all the great work of our port partners, state and local officials, as well as our federal agency partners. Together, we have ensured the maritime safety and security of the Lower Mississippi River. I know Capt. Bernstein will continue to do great things within our region with the incredible team she has supporting her.” Capt. Rhodes is retiring from the Coast Guard after 27 years of service to the Nation. “I couldn’t be more thankful and ready for this opportunity to serve on the Western Rivers,” said Capt. Bernstein. “I look forward to getting to work with all of you, as together, we ensure the safety, security and economic prosperity on the Mississippi River.”
Capt. Bernstein comes to Memphis from Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach where she held the position of Deputy Sector Commander.
The change of command ceremony marks a transfer of total responsibility and authority from one individual to another. It is a time-honored tradition, conducted before the assembled crew, as well as honored guests and dignitaries to formally demonstrate the continuity of the authority within a command.