Second woman takes commandThe U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder underwent its second change in command Wednesday, passing to the leadership of Lt. Cmdr. Mary Ellen Durley.
By: David Cowardinemail@example.com, Superior Telegram
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder underwent its second change in command Wednesday, passing to the leadership of Lt. Cmdr. Mary Ellen Durley.
“I’m familiar with breaking ice, but not with the bone-chilling temperatures of Duluth,” Durley said at a change-of-command ceremony Wednesday morning. “I’m looking forward to winters here.”
Durley comes to Duluth from the Coast Guard International Training Division in Yorktown, Va. She was commanding officer in 2003 of the Thunder Bay, a 140-foot ice-breaking tug based in Rockland, Maine.
Durley will serve for the next three years. Commanding officers are allowed to serve once for three years on a single ship.
She relieves Lt. Cmdr. Kevin E. Wirth, who will serve as icebreakers and aids to navigation cutter manager at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C
Speakers at Wednesday’s ceremony included Wirth and the Coast Guard’s Ninth District’s Chief of Staff Captain David Callahan.
Both Wirth and Callahan spoke of the challenges the Alder has faced in breaking ice and keeping the waterways clear.
Durley said the Twin Ports can trust her to keep ice clear as long as she has the resources and assistance needed for the task. Her duties will include the oversight of the Alder’s 52-person crew in executing its missions, which include aids to navigation servicing, domestic icebreaking, search and rescue, marine environment protection, homeland security and law enforcement.
The Alder is one of two Juniper-class vessels in the Great Lakes and stretches 225 feet in length. There are nine smaller vessels in the Great Lakes with ice-breaking capabilities, all in the Bayfront class.
Durley is the second woman Coast Guard commander posted in Duluth. The first woman was Beverly Havlik in 2003, who commanded the Sundew. The Alder relieved the Sundew in 2004.
The first-ever woman commanding officer in Coast Guard history came in 1979, and women were first involved in the Coast Guard as lighthouse keepers in the 1830s.