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Press Release | May 19, 2024

US Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC 911) holds change of command ceremony

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Andrew Grantham relieved Cmdr. Staci Rutsch as commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC 911) during a change of command ceremony, Wednesday, on Coast Guard Base Portsmouth. 

Capt. Brian Anderson, Coast Guard Atlantic Area chief of operations, presided over the event. 

Grantham previously served as the executive assistant to the director at the Coast Guard Civil Rights Directorate. 

“It is an honor to serve with Forward’s crew and conduct complex global missions that ensure the maritime safety, security, and prosperity of the United States,” said Grantham. “I am excited to do this rewarding work alongside this exceptional crew.” 

Rutsch served as the commanding officer of Forward from August 2022 to May 2024. Rutsch’s next assignment is at Atlantic Area, as the chief of the Contingency Operations Branch. 

“I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to have served alongside the dedicated crew of Forward,” said Rutsch. “Their unwavering commitment to duty and excellence has been truly inspiring. I have full confidence in their continued success in fulfilling the Coast Guard's vital missions.” 

The change of command ceremony marks a transfer of total responsibility and authority from one individual to another. It is a time-honored tradition to formally demonstrate the continuity of authority within a command conducted before the assembled crew and esteemed guests and dignitaries. 

Forward is a 270-foot, Famous-class medium endurance cutter with a crew of 100. The cutter’s primary missions are counter drug operations, migrant interdiction, enforcement of federal fishery laws and search and rescue in support of U.S. Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.  

For information on how to join the U.S. Coast Guard, visit to learn about active duty and reserve as well as officer and enlisted opportunities. Information on how to apply to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy can be found here