The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche (WMSL 751) held a modified change-of-command ceremony Thursday while anchored in the San Francisco Bay.
Capt. Jason H. Ryan relieved Capt. Patrick J. Dougan as commanding officer during the ceremony.
The change-of-command ceremony is a historic military tradition representing the formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another. The event reinforces the continuity of command and provides an opportunity to celebrate the crew’s accomplishments.
The crew conducted the ceremony following a 90-day counterdrug patrol, stemming the flow of illicit narcotics trafficked across international waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Waesche coordinated efforts with the Coast Guard Cutter Terrell Horne and used their unmanned aerial system to disrupt criminal networks’ vital smuggling routes.
The crew self-quarantined for 14 days off the coast of California prior to the start of their patrol to ensure their health and safety. Instead of making international port calls, the crew took on fuel, food and supplies during replenishments at sea with the U.S. Navy.
Ryan reported to Waesche from the 7th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Miami, where he served as the Enforcement Branch chief. Ryan oversaw the Coast Guard’s enforcement of U.S. laws, from the protection of marine resources to drug and migrant interdiction efforts in the Southeast U.S and the Caribbean basin.
Following the change of command, Dougan reported to the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area Command in Alameda, where he will serve as Pacific Area’s chief of operations.
“Waesche has been successful because Captain Dougan provided the vision and leadership that allowed the crew to flourish.” said Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander, Pacific Area, who presided over the ceremony.
Dougan served as Waesche’s commanding officer from June 2018 to June 2020 and supported Coast Guard operations throughout the Eastern Pacific by conducting two counterdrug patrols. The crew seized more than 6,000 pounds of narcotics under Dougan’s command worth an estimated wholesale value over $200 million.
Dougan also oversaw an eight-month in-port maintenance period for the installation of a small unmanned aircraft system and reinstallation of fabricated parts to the main reduction gear worth a total of $15 million.
“This crew has faced extraordinary challenges over the last two years, and faced every one head on with vigor and a can-do spirit,” said Dougan. “Leading change is hard. Changing momentum is hard. It takes focused effort, perseverance and involved leadership at all levels. Fortunately, the Waesche crew has all three and then some.”