Capt. Eric A. Helgen relieved Capt. Benjamin D. Berg as commander, Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA) aboard Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Thursday, June 16.
As the commander of the most extensive Coast Guard base outside of the United States, Berg served as the senior U.S. Coast Guard representative in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility, providing support to maritime security operations in the north, central, and south Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Under his leadership, PATFORSWA saw the homeporting of four new 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters and decommissioning of five 110-foot Island-class patrol cutters.
“It has been my absolute pleasure to serve with the outstanding Coast Guard women and men of Patrol Forces Southwest Asia. The dedication and professionalism were evident in every patrol, repair, and forward deployment,” Berg said. “I’m certainly pleased with the operational accomplishments of our cutters, crews, and partner nation engagements, but I was more energized each day to observe the crews taking pride knowing their work was bringing stability to the region and enforcing the rule of law.”
Adm. Linda Fagan, commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, presided over the ceremony, commending Berg for his leadership and performance and welcoming Helgen as the new commander.
“Capt. Berg, PATFORSWA has been successful because you provided the vision and leadership that allowed the crew to flourish,” Fagan said. “I am incredibly confident in the future of the Coast Guard because of the outstanding people like those here at PATFORSWA who live out our core values.”
Helgen is reporting from the Coast Guard Seventh District in Miami, where he served as the deputy of the Office of Maritime Enforcement.
“I’m exceptionally honored and deeply humbled to have the opportunity to be part of a team whose members sacrifice a year away from their families to execute such a vital mission in support of the United States,” Helgen said.
PATFORSWA, which is operationally attached to Commander Task Force (CTF) 55, is composed of six patrol vessels, shoreside mission support personnel, and the Maritime Engagement Team. The unit plays a crucial role in maritime security, maritime infrastructure protection, and regional theater security cooperation. The unit also supports other U.S. Coast Guard deployable specialized forces operating throughout the Middle Eastern region. Administratively, PATFORSWA is attached to U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area and works with the Area team to provide regional expertise and partner support, overcome challenges, and deliver superior mission excellence.