Coast Guard installs new commander for NJ to NC

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Local,Virginia

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — The Coast Guard installed a new leader on Wednesday to oversee the navigable waters from central New Jersey to the South Carolina border, including management of rescue operations and coastal security in those states.

Rear Adm. Stephen P. Metruck assumed command of the Coast Guard's 5th District during a ceremony in Portsmouth, where the 5th District headquarters is based. From Portsmouth, Metruck will be responsible for leading Coast Guard operations in a highly-active region of the East Coast.

"On a map compared to all the others it doesn't look that impressive sometime," said Vice Adm. Robert Parker, commander of the Coast Guard's Atlantic Area. "But this is a busy place and this is a place that matters."

Among other things, Parker noted that the district is responsible for helping provide security during presidential inaugurations and other events in Washington, which includes the use of Coast Guard aircraft. The district also performs numerous water rescues, and drew national attention for saving the lives of 14 people who abandoned their tall ship during Superstorm Sandy during 2012 off the coast of North Carolina. One crew member died and the captain is presumed dead.

The three-masted wooden sailing ship sank about 125 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras.

Metruck, originally from Massena, N.Y., most recently served as the assistant commandant for resources and chief financial officer for the Coast Guard. He says he's looking forward to working more directly with waterfront operations that affect people's lives.

He relieved Rear Adm. Steven H. Ratti, who served as the district's commander since April 2012.

During his tenure, he oversaw Coast Guard crews that performed more than 75,000 missions and saved more than 760 lives. Just last week, the Coast Guard helped direct a commercial ship to rescue three people and a dog in a life raft about 900 miles northeast of Bermuda after their sailboat sank in a storm.

Ratti, originally from Rockville, Md., retired following the ceremony.

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Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis

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