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Press Release | June 29, 2023

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alert holds change of command ceremony

ASTORIA, Ore. — The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alert (WMEC 630) and crew held a change of command ceremony, Thursday, at the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria.

Cmdr. Lee Crusius relieved Cmdr. Matthew Kolodica as Alert’s commanding officer. Vice Adm. Andrew Tiongson, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, presided over the ceremony.

“I am truly honored to have commanded such a fine crew and ship,” said Kolodica. “Together, during a 24-month period, our crew accomplished a tremendous amount while demonstrating unwavering resiliency and devotion to duty. We preform hard, meaningful work daily and despite the numerous challenges we encountered on Alert, our team remained Semper Paratus, ‘Always Ready.’ I will miss Alert and her crew as I depart, but our legacy will endure for years to come.”

Kolodica will transfer to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where he will serve as the director of Professional Maritime Studies. During his tour as Alert’s commanding officer from June 2021 to June 2023, he led the cutter and crew throughout the Eastern Pacific combating drug traffickers during four separate deployments. The crew’s efforts to curtail drug cartels operating in the Eastern Pacific Ocean under Kolodica‘s leadership resulted in the interdiction of over $100 million worth of illicit narcotics. Kolodica also worked closely with Coast Guard aviation units, Maritime Security Response Teams, and international partners to conduct a variety of training missions which helped improved the U.S. and our allies’ counter-smuggling operations.

“I am extremely excited to be taking over this role and to continue the long tradition of excellence in rescuing distressed mariners, enforcing our nations laws, and defending America,” said Crusius.

Crusius received his commission from the Coast Guard Academy in 2007 and holds a Master of Science in Coastal Ocean Policy from the University of North Carolina. His previous tours have focused on countering human trafficking and drug smuggling in the Caribbean and combatting illegal fisheries operations in the Bering Sea and Alaska. Crusius’s ashore assignments include serving as the Coast Guard Academy Equal Opportunity Advisor and as the 11th District’s Living Marine Resources Analyst.

Alert, commissioned in 1969, is the newest of three 210-foot Reliance-class Medium Endurance stationed on the West Coast, and performs a variety of missions to protect Americans and American interests in the Northern and Eastern Pacific Ocean.