ROCKLAND, Maine — The time-honored naval tradition of a change of command ceremony took place Friday morning at the Rockland Coast Guard station for the 175-foot buoy tender Abbie Burgess.
John Huard took command of the buoy tender from Paul Dupuis, who wrapped up a 30-year Coast Guard career with two years at the helm of the vessel, which maintains aids to navigation from Eastport to Boothbay Harbor.
Dupuis praised his crew members for their work in protecting the safety of mariners during his two years aboard the Abbie Burgess.
“They’re like a pit crew at a NASCAR event,” the retiring commanding officer said of their ability to maintain buoys.
He joked that after years of watching the weather his only concern now — when he hears that there will be wind — is whether his grill will blow over.
Dupuis enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1982. His first assignment was aboard the White Lupine in Rockland. He later served at the South Portland base, the Jonesport station, and the Southwest Harbor base. He later served aboard the Thunder Bay, based in Rockland.
Dupuis, an Augusta native, and his wife, Kelly, live in Vassalboro.
Huard has served in Hawaii, San Francisco, and most recently was commanding officer of the Knight Island, based in Key West, Fla.
Huard enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1986. He is married to the former Pamela Forgays of Lowell, Mass., and they have a 6-year-old daughter, Olivia Jane.
The change of command ceremony was attended by Coast Guard crews, families, friends and local politicians, including 2nd District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree.
Rear Adm. Daniel Abel spoke before the gathering and noted the importance of the Abbie Burgess’ role in making sure that the nearly 400 navigational buoys are working properly.
“We’re always on watch, always guarding the safety of mariners,” the admiral said.