KODIAK — Capt. Mark Cawthorn, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Munro, retired Tuesday after 27 years of service with the Coast Guard.
He was relieved of his duties as commanding officer by Capt. Jeff Thomas during a change of command ceremony at the Golden Anchor.
Thomas arrived from Coast Guard Headquarters where he served as assistant director for the Office of Emerging Policy.
Cawthorn commanded the 378-foot Kodiak-based cutter Munro for two years, and sailed 55,000 miles with his crew of 175. They inspected fishing boats, worked a high seas driftnet case, spent hundreds of hours on search and rescue missions, and saved the lives of three people in the last year. Cawthorn has taken the Munro to Japan, the South China Sea, and around all the islands in the Aleutian Chain.
“I always knew this would be my last ship, I just did not know it would be the final assignment of my career,” Cawthorn said.
Rear Adm. Charles Ray, deputy commander of the Pacific Area, traveled from California to preside at the ceremony. Ray spoke to Cawthorn’s leadership and dedication, as well as the achievements of the crew of the Munro.
“They spent 300 days underway in the last two years, and every one of those days was a challenge,” Ray said.
Cawthorn has spent 13 years of his career at sea, and served on cutters Ute, Pegasus and Thetis out of Key West, Fla. He served as executive officer of the cutter Escanaba, and the commanding officer of cutters Monomoy and Seneca, out of Massachusetts.
“He sailed around the world,” Ray said of Cawthorn’s career. “He crossed the Arctic Circle, he crossed the Equator, and he crossed the International Dateline. He’s done all those things and seen all those things.”
Cawthorn also spent tours of duty at Coast Guard headquarters, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Cawthorn and his family will leave Kodiak for Honolulu. His wife Deb is an active-duty Coast Guard lieutenant commander and his daughter Leah is a high school senior. Cawthorn’s son Jacob was not present because he is currently stationed aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Seneca.
During his farewell remarks, Cawthorn thanked his family and his crew for the support they provided him during his time as commanding officer, and shared memories and stories of life onboard the Munro.
“From the time my wife and I arrived in Alaska two years ago it has been one incredible adventure after another,” Cawthorn said.
Cawthorn received a Meritorious Service Medal during the ceremony.