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New commander takes Coast Guard district helm

The Coast Guard district that stretches from New Jersey to South Carolina got a new commander Wednesday.

Rear Adm. Stephen Metruck took over as the top officer at the service's 5th District. He replaces Rear Adm. Steven Ratti, who had been in the role since 2012 and is retiring after nearly four decades.

The Coast Guard held a brief change-of-command ceremony Wednesday afternoon under the big white awning at nTelos Wireless Pavilion. Vice Adm. Robert Parker, who oversees the Atlantic region, presided.

Geographically, the Coast Guard's 5th District isn't the biggest, Parker said. But given the activity on its waters, "this is a busy place," he said. "It's a place that matters."

Parker credited Ratti with overseeing hundreds of search-and-rescue operations, including that of the crew of the tall ship Bounty; the Coast Guard's response to Hurricane Sandy; water security during President Obama's second inauguration; and OpSail 2012, in which tall ships from around the world traveled to Hampton Roads.

Ratti made sure the Coast Guard remained robust and ready despite tight budget constraints, Parker said. "He certainly added to the security of our nation."

Headquartered in Portsmouth, the 5th District includes roughly 2,500 active-duty Coast Guardsmen and more than 900 reservists.

Metruck's last position was in Washington, D.C., where he was the Coast Guard's assistant commandant for resources and its chief financial officer. He graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1982.

Metruck said he looks forward to working closer to the water and the responsibilities for which the service was created.

"It doesn't get any more operational than the 5th District," he said.

Corinne Reilly, 757-446-2277, corinne.reilly@pilotonline.com

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