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Press Release | June 26, 2024

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland - National Capital Region holds change of command ceremony


Editor's note: Click above images to view and download photos.  

BALTIMORE — U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland – National Capital Region bid farewell to Capt. David O’Connell and welcomed Capt. Patrick Burkett as the sector's new commanding officer during a change of command ceremony in Baltimore, Tuesday.

The ceremony was held at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine and was presided over by Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath, commander, Fifth Coast Guard District.

O’Connell departs to continue his Coast Guard career as the chief of the First Coast Guard District’s Prevention Division.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve with such great people from the Coast Guard and our federal, state, local, port, and industry partners,” said O’Connell. “We overcame many challenges and I couldn't have been more proud of our teamwork and unity of effort.”

O’Connell led Coast Guard operations across the Maryland and Washington, D.C. region since April 25, 2021, managing Coast Guard operational forces in the execution and coordination of maritime safety, security, and environmental stewardship. This includes eight multi-mission stations, three aids to navigation teams, and one Coast Guard cutter.

Additionally, O’Connell led the Coast Guard’s response during the Motor Vessel Ever Forward grounding and the Key Bridge Response 2024, serving as the incident commander for both responses.

Capt. Patrick Burkett reports to Sector Maryland – National Capital Region after previously serving as the chief of the 13th Coast Guard District’s Prevention Division from July 2021 to June 2024.

“I could not be more humbled and excited to serve as the commander of Sector Maryland – National Capital Region and captain of the port,” said Burkett. “Command is both a great privilege and a great responsibility. I am honored to join the outstanding team of Coast Guard members carrying out the long legacy of mission excellence. I am equally excited to work with our maritime partners to serve the citizens of this region.”

Previous operational assignments include Prevention Department head, Sector Jacksonville; executive officer, Marine Safety Unit Pittsburg; investigating officer, Sector Hampton Roads, and, marine inspector, Sector New Orleans and Sector Miami.

A 1999 alumnus of South Carolina State University and the Coast Guard College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative, Burkett also served as the Coast Guard liaison to Military Sealift Command (MSC), in which he was the primary advisor to the MSC commander to ensure vessel readiness for over 130 naval auxiliary vessels tasked to sustain global warfighting capability, provide combat support, and humanitarian aid around the globe.

The area of responsibility for Sector Maryland – National Capital Region spans the Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay north of the Virginia - Maryland line and its tributaries, as well as Ocean City and offshore Atlantic Ocean providing maritime safety, security, and environmental protection for the region.

In an average year, Sector Maryland – National Capital Region personnel conduct the following missions for the Nation’s capital and throughout the upper Chesapeake Bay, numbering approximately:

● 500 search and rescue cases

● 750 law enforcement boardings

● 100 marine casualties

● 75 merchant mariner investigations

● responds to 350 oil and chemical spills

● serve and oversee nearly 2,400 aids to navigation

● ensures the safe movement of 2,500 foreign vessels, and 350 domestic vessels, including 294 small passenger vessels

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition representing the formal transfer of authority, responsibility, and accountability for a unit from one commanding officer to another.