Coast Guard's Barthel departs Station Rockland
Rockland — Rockland residents and dignitaries from throughout the Midcoast gathered June 17 at the Coast Guard pier on Tillson Avenue to bid farewell to Chief Warrant Officer Curtis Barthel of the U.S. Coast Guard.
After three years as commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Station Rockland, Barthel will transfer to Group Humboldt Bay in McKinleyville, Calif., where he will serve as assistant surface operations officer.
Barthel's replacement is CWO Sebastian Arnsdorf, formerly first lieutenant aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Spar in Kodiak, Alaska.
Sector Northern New England Prevention Department Head Cmdr. Brian Gilda stood in at the June 17 ceremony for the sector commander, Capt. Jim McPherson, who has been working to assist with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Gilda praised Rockland, calling it "our most distinguished Coast Guard city," and thanked the Coast Guard City Committee for its commitment to the families of the crew members at the Coast Guard stations that call Rockland their home port.
Rockland and the Midcoast are home to four Coast Guard stations: The Coast Guard cutters Abbie Burgess, Thunder Bay and Tackle, and the land-based Station Rockland.
According to the program handed out at the ceremony, the land-based station was created from many of the former lifesaving and light stations that previously dotted the Maine Coast. Housed in Rockland's Bird Block, it is home to a 47-foot motor lifeboat and two 25-foot Defender-class response boats.
Gilda recognized the achievements of the crew members, especially those of Station Rockland, in carrying out their missions.
"They carry these missions out with the utmost professionalism," Gilda said. He said they do their job well, "not only as crew men and women, but as members of the Rockland community."
Turning to Barthel, he praised the departing commander for his leadership and attention to training and preparedness.
"In your impressive level of service to the nation, you have distinguished yourself," he said.
Gilda also complimented the local Coast Guard Auxiliary.
In presenting Barthel with the Gold Star for Outstanding Achievement, Gilda listed the chief warrant officer's many accomplishments, including his organization of a port visit by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Eagle during a storm last summer, and his overall commitment to the larger community.
"You're inheriting a well-trained, professional crew," Gilda told Arnsdorf.
Barthel began his remarks by saying everyone in attendance had been important to him and his family.
With many humorous asides that brought laughter to his audience, Barthel said he had enjoyed working with McPherson and those at Sector Northern New England. He also praised the hard work of his crew, the sacrifices of their families and the support of the community.
Thanking his wife and two children, Barthel said, "I really appreciate their understanding of the time demands of this job."
Turning to his crew, Barthel lauded them for their professionalism.
"When we borrow a boat, it leaves with a little Rockland pride polished into it," he said. "If I had a dime for every compliment I've received, we would be having my retirement ceremony right after this change of command."
Barthel thanked local and state public safety personnel, as well as those who serve on the many committees that sponsor festivals and events in Rockland.
When he began to speak of his neighbors and the friends he had made in Rockland, Barthel momentarily lost composure. With tears in his eyes, he said the Pine family exemplified those he had come to know in the community.
"Curtis Barthel may be leaving, but the Coast Guard is here to stay," he said. "This has been the greatest time of my life."
Arnsdorf briefly stepped to the lectern.
"The new guy at a change of command is like the guest of honor at a funeral," he said. "Everyone wants to look at you, but no one expects you to say much."
He said that the small boat community was his passion, and that he was looking forward to working with the city of Rockland and continuing the strong relationships Barthel had forged.
Following the ceremony, the guests were invited to share a luncheon prepared in the Station Rockland galley.
The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.