Change of Command at Coast Guard Marine Safety Office - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/07/04

Change of Command at Coast Guard Marine Safety Office

A new commander is heading up Savannah's Coast Guard Marine Safety Office. This morning, CDR Michael Drieu took over during the Coast Guard's change of command ceremony. He relieves former commander Capt. Timothy Close, who's joining the staff of the Eighth Coast Guard District in New Orleans.

Under Close's command, the Coast Guard and the Port of Savannah have seen some big changes. The past two years have been very busy for the Coast Guard and our area. Savannah is the fifth busiest container port in the United States, and now that the Coast Guard is working as part of the Homeland Security Department, their responsibilities here are even greater than before.

"It's been a terrific experience," said Capt. Close. "This is the front lines for us in the Coast Guard when it comes to homeland security."

Capt. Close has experienced it firsthand. He was there when the Coast Guard joined the Homeland Security Department, during expansions at the Port of Savannah, through elevated threat levels conditions, and times of war, when the Coast Guard protected the ships helping the Third Infantry Division deploy. It was the Coast Guard who enforced new marine safety regulations, and made sure the Port of Savannah stayed open during the G-8 summit.

"There were only a few times when we had to delay ships just a little bit because of the G-8, but there were many months of planning behind the scenes," said Capt. Close.

Close has been at the helm of these changes for the last two years, but it is the spirit of cooperation he credits for their success.

"Everyone was very willing to sit down, figure out, coordinate and work through things," he said. "We brought the industry in very early in all these processes to sit down because they want to do right. They live here, too and they work here."

Now incoming commander, who oversaw the Coast Guard's emergency disaster responses for half the country, will work with them. CDR Michael Drieu's already impressed through with what he saw during the G-8. "I helped oversee some of the operations here. I went out on the water with some folks and part of it was to educate myself, as well on the area," he said. "I'm looking forward to being a part of the success they've had and the future success we will have."

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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