Today, Master Chief Petty Officer Steven W. Cantrell relieved Master Chief Petty Officer Michael P. Leavitt to become the 12th master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard during a change-of-watch ceremony presided over by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J.
At the conclusion of the change-of-watch ceremony, Leavitt, who assumed duties as the 11th MCPOCG on May 21, 2010, will retire to his home state of Idaho after more than 32 years of Coast Guard service.
“To the men and women of the world’s best Coast Guard – I am proud to wear the same uniform as all of you,” said Cantrell. “I am honored to be afforded the opportunity to be your voice. To Master Chief Leavitt, I would like to say thank you. Thank you, both Mike and Deb, for your years of service and sacrifice. I wish you and your family fair winds and calm seas in the next chapter of your lives.”
Cantrell is reporting from his previous assignment as command master chief of Coast Guard Atlantic Area.
The office of the master chief petty officer of the Coast Guard was established by legislative action on Aug. 27, 1969, to provide the commandant of the Coast Guard with a personal adviser and assistant in matters affecting the enlisted members of the service, both active-duty and reserve, and their families. The MCPOCG is the most senior enlisted member of the Coast Guard. The normal tour of assignment is four years, which runs concurrently with the commandant. The MCPOCG must be a living example of the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty. Individuals who are selected to serve in this prestigious position must possess the highest standards of professionalism and personal integrity.
The responsibilities and activities of the MCPOCG include: assisting in the development of policy for managing the enlisted workforce of the Coast Guard; traveling to units to address service members on quality of life and personnel issues; formal testimonials before Congress; representing enlisted quality of life issues by speaking to various civilian and military committees and forums; and maintaining a strong relationship with service organizations and companies that support enlisted personnel issues.
The MCPOCG works closely with his senior enlisted counterparts in the Department of Defense — the sergeant major of the Army, the master chief petty officer of the Navy, the sergeant major of the Marine Corps and the chief master sergeant of the Air Force — as well as numerous other government and non-government organizations around the world.
The change-of-watch ceremony is a time-honored event preserved by rich heritage of naval tradition. It is a formal custom that is designed to strengthen the respect of authority, which is vital to any military organization. The climax of the ceremony is reached when both members read their orders, face one another, salute and transfer responsibility of the command. This also provides the entire command with the knowledge that the member directed by proper authority is taking command and is an opportunity to witness this transfer of responsibility.