USCG Icebreaker 'Polar Star' Change of Command

By George Backwell
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
'Polar Star': Photo USCG

Vice Adm. Charles W. Ray, Coast Guard Pacific Area commander, will preside over the ceremony where Capt. Matthew R. Walker will assume the duties and responsibilities as commanding officer of 'Polar Star' from Capt. George E. Pellissier, informs the Coast Guard.

Commissioned in 1976, Polar Star is currently the only heavy ice breaker in service in the United States. The ship was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company of Seattle, Washington along with her sister ship, Polar Sea. The cutter’s missions include close ice escort and logistics support of high latitude outposts. Polar Star also conducts search and rescue and supports scientific research in the Antarctic and Arctic regions.

Capt. Walker is reporting from the Afloat Training Group San Diego where he served as the Coast Guard liaison officer. He has served onboard 10 cutters, including a buoy tender in Guam and a patrol boat in Miami. He has also been an exchange officer in a U.S. Navy Frigate, and the executive officer aboard a high endurance cutter.  He is a qualified surface warfare officer and a permanent cutterman. Capt. Walker first served aboard Polar Star as the operations officer 2002-2004.

Capt. Pellissier, a Monson, Mass., native, graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1987 with a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and holds master’s degrees in Marine Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. He has served aboard six cutters, three times aboard Polar Star during which time he served as the commanding officer, executive officer, and engineering officer.

During his tour aboard Polar Star, Capt. Pellissier led the 399-foot cutter through its reactivation period following seven years of care taker status. After reactivation, Polar Star traveled to the Arctic to conduct ice trials before commencing an intensive crew training cycle. Capt. Pellissier then led the cutter and crew on Operation Deep Freeze 2014, the annual resupply of McMurdo Station, Antarctica.  

Capt. Pellissier is retiring from the Coast Guard after 27 years of service.

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