Savannah’s maritime community came out in force Friday morning to bid hail and farewell to U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Amy Beach and welcome her successor at a change of command ceremony at the Ships of the Sea Museum.
With the words, “Ma’am, I relieve you,” Cmdr. Norman Witt took command of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Savannah, a post Beach has held for three years.
Rear Adm. Peter J. Brown, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, praised Beach for her leadership and performance in Savannah, particularly noting her swift and authoritative response in getting the harbor safely reopened to ship traffic following Hurricane Matthew’s devastation.
Beach, in turn, praised her unit, calling it one of the Coast Guard’s best.
“MSU Savannah has performed exceptionally well in carrying out every aspect of our mission,” she said. “But, frankly, I can’t take much credit for our success.
“I came into a unit that was already highly functioning and, as I leave the unit, it’s still pretty much as I found it — a wonderful group of talented and dedicated active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary members, selflessly serving Savannah and their country.
“I’ve been inspired by their professionalism and unwavering commitment to service.”
Beach will report for duty at the Ninth Coast Guard District in Cleveland, where she will be Chief of Prevention, responsible for all Coast Guard prevention-related activities — including maritime safety and security, environmental protection, maritime law enforcement, aids to navigation and icebreaking – throughout the five Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway and parts of eight surrounding states, including 6,700 miles of shoreline and 1,500 miles of international border with Canada.
“It’s hard to believe three years has passed since Cmdr. Beach assumed command as Captain of the Port of Savannah,” said Craig Maggioni, a Savannah River Pilot and former president of the Savannah Propeller Club.
“During her time here, her leadership, dedication to service, and desire to build lasting partnerships greatly benefited the entire port and the city of Savannah. As we look forward to working with CDR Witt, we will greatly miss Capt. Beach.”
Witt reports to Savannah from the U.S. embassy in the Republic of Liberia, where he held the position of Coast Guard maritime advisor. Prior to his Coast Guard career, Witt served in the U.S. Army as a Military Intelligence Officer with the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C.
“I had the opportunity to visit this unit in March and was impressed, not only with the personnel and operations of Marine Safety Unity Savannah, but also with the unit’s relationship with core partners — federal state and local agencies and private stakeholders,” he said.
“While this level of commitment is certainly a testament to all parties involved, I believe it’s also a direct reflection of the leadership and professional expertise of Cmdr. Beach.”
Witt thanked his predecessor for her help in the transition.
“I will work hard to continue the legacy of professionalism and success that you and your crew have built,” he said.
In a separate ceremony following the change of command, Beach was promoted to the rank of captain.