Coast Guard hosts change of command ceremony

From left, New officer in charge of the U.S. Coast Guard Station Marquette Stephen Saflin shakes hands with the previous Chief Warrant Officer Mark Reilly after asking for permission to change command from Captain Patrick Nelson commander—Sector Sault Ste. Marie at the Change of Command Ceremony Friday morning. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)


Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — Chief Boatswain’s Mate Stephen Saflin was named the new chief warrant officer at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Marquette Friday morning at a change of command ceremony.

With the new post, Saflin takes on command of the multi-mission station, which is responsible for the boating safety, maritime law enforcement, search and rescue and environmental response in the area from Salmon Trout Bay to Grand Marais.

“It’s humbling, and it’s a privilege to be able to take command of such a beautiful station and a beautiful community as well as a group of great, fine men and women of the service,” Saflin said.

Saflin has been serving in the Coast Guard since August 2001. He first served as a seaman and was deployed to the Persian Gulf for the War on Terrorism from 2002 to 2003. He went on to serve at the Coast Guard Station Mayport in Florida where he took part in saving 42 lives and $1.7 million in property recovery. Saflin then became boatswain mate first class and served as the training petty officer and operations petty officer at a Florida station. His most recent duty was executive petty officer at Coast Guard Station Houston where he provided search and rescue coverage with Department of Homeland Security operations for one of the largest petrochemical ports in the world. While in this position he also facilitated and led the station’s response and rescue efforts during Hurricane Harvey.

He’s looking forward to taking on different challenges at his new station.

“I was previously at Coast Guard Station Houston prior to this doing all law enforcement missions for the most part, so this is going to be a nice change of pace … I really enjoy search and rescue, and I really enjoy working with local communities and local agencies to develop and strengthen those partnerships,” Saflin said.

During his new role at the Marquette station, Saflin hopes to assist and provide boating safety guidance and support to the community as much as possible.

“My duties are overall responsibility of the entire unit, the boats and my area of responsibility to make sure we’re ready at a moment’s notice to answer the call of anybody that may be in need of assistance, and also to practice and enforce safe boating so that everybody can come home at night,” Saflin said. “That’s going to be my biggest goal and my biggest target to work for.”

Saflin, originally from Charleroi, Pennsylvania, said within the last week he has already learned of some of the challenges Lake Superior poses, such as the lake freezing over and having to pull boats from the water so they don’t freeze in place.

“So the challenge is going to be to continue to train and develop that proficiency in our craft in the short months that we have our boats out of the water, and then to develop that ice rescue proficiency, something that’s new to me, but I’m certainly eager to learn about it,” Saflin said.

Saflin, his wife, MarQuett, and their three children Ethan, Mason and Sloan are settling into the area and enjoying the local hospitality and beautiful views.

“The people are incredible. My family and I have been greeted with the most warm welcome and just trying to help us out and provide us the guidance to understand the area,” Saflin said. “Just everywhere I’ve looked it’s been one of those classic Kodak moments. I didn’t have that so much down in Houston with the petrochemical complex, but from the moment I stepped out of the car and drove up (U.S.) 41, it’s just, wow. I try to take it in and you just simply can’t do it, it’s impossible to do.”

After planting their roots, Saflin plans to continue to develop partnerships with assets of the community such as local law enforcement, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and overall being an active citizen in the Marquette community.

Saflin takes over the position of chief warrant officer from Mark Reilly, who served at the Marquette station since 2017. A member of the Coast Guard since 2002, Reilly is heading to the Cypress, a Coast Guard cutter in Pensacola, Florida, to serve as a first lieutenant.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is photos@miningjournal.net.