HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Capt. Holly Harrison took over command of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball (WMSL 756) from Capt. David Ramassini in a change of command ceremony at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Saturday.
Vice Adm. Linda Fagan, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area presided over the event.
Harrison is arriving from Washington D.C. where she served as the executive assistant to the director of the Coast Guard Investigative Service. A native of Virginia, Harrison graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1995. Her first assignment was as a deck watch officer aboard USCGC Storis (WMEC 38) in Kodiak, Alaska. She served in the Coast Guard 14th District previously as executive officer of USCGC Kiska (WPB 1309) while in Hilo.
Her other afloat assignments include commanding officer of USCGC Aquidneck (WPB 1336) first in North Carolina and later in Bahrain, executive officer of USCGC Legare (WMEC 912) in Portsmouth, Virginia, and USCGC Northland (WMEC 904) also in Portsmouth.
Her shoreside assignments include protocol officer for the commandant of the Coast Guard, senior instructor of the Maritime Boarding Officer School in Yorktown, Virginia, before establishing the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy in Charleston and serving as executive officer. She was responsible for strategic oversight, policy formulation, and Congressional briefings for programs representing $2.7 billion of the service’s operating base as a program reviewer in the Office of Budget and Programs. She served as a strategic analyst in the Strategic Management and Doctrine Directorate, and her research as the Coast Guard’s first national security affairs fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution focused on the Arctic and sexual assault prevention. She then served a year-long detail in the Office of Management and Budget’s National Security Division as a program examiner for the Department of Veterans Affairs, followed by an assignment at Coast Guard Headquarters as the Coast Guard’s Drug and Migrant Interdiction chief in the Office of Law Enforcement.
Operational highlights include her leadership in March 2003, aboard Aquidneck during the invasion of Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Under Harrison’s command, Aquidneck and her dedicated crew conducted innumerable maritime interdiction, search and rescue, escort and combat-related operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf. In 2003, Harrison received recognition for these achievements, becoming the first female in service history to receive the Bronze Star Medal in addition to her record as the first woman to command a Coast Guard cutter in combat. In 2010, Harrison was chosen by the president to serve as of one of 13 White House Fellows for a year during which she served as a senior advisor to the Administrator of NASA and acting Deputy Chief of Staff of NASA. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University, and a second master’s degree in educational technology leadership from George Washington University. Mast recently Harrison earned a certificate in national security and foreign policy from MIT. She has also served as a volunteer firefighter and EMT.
Ramassini is departing to Washington D.C. to be the Coast Guard liaison officer to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. He took command of USCGC Kimball, following tours on USCGC Bear (WMEC 901), USCGC Baranof (WPB 1318) and Wrangell (WPB 1332) also in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the USCGC Key Largo (WPB 1324), USCGC Bertholf (WMSl 750) the first National Security Cutter, USCGC John Midgett (WHEC 726), and USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC 903). His shoreside tours include senior instructor at the Maritime Law Enforcement School, a company commander at the Coast Guard Academy, Marine Force Protection Unit Program Manager and senior analyst in the Office of Counterterrorism and Defense Operations at Coast Guard Headquarters. He also served two tours at the Pentagon. Ramassini served as the first Coast Guard liaison to the director of the Joint Staff, Strategic Plans and Policy and later to the office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy.
A native of Pennsylvania, he graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in management. In 2005 he received a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College and a second master’s degree in joint campaign planning and strategy from the National Defense University Joint Advanced Warfighting School.
The Coast Guard accepted delivery of the seventh national security cutter (NSC), Kimball, in Pascagoula, Mississippi, Sept. 19, 2018. Commissioning for Kimball is scheduled for August alongside its sister ship Midgett at their Honolulu homeport. Kimball is the first NSC stationed in Hawaii.
The Kimball’s namesake, Sumner Kimball, served as superintendent of the Revenue Marine, establishing a training school that would later become the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Kimball then was general superintendent of the Life-Saving Service (LSS) from 1878 until the LSS merged with the Revenue Marine to become the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915. The ship’s motto is Lead, Train, and Save.
The NSCs feature advanced command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment; aviation support facilities; stern cutter boat launch; and long-endurance station keeping. The 418-foot cutters have an endurance of 60 to 90 days and can serve as operational-level headquarters for complex law-enforcement, defense and national security missions involving Coast Guard and multiple partner agency participation. They are replacing the 1960s-era 378-foot high-endurance cutters.
In the fiscal year 2017, NSCs set a record by interdicting over 160,000 pounds of cocaine – 74,000 pounds more than the previous year – valued at over $2.15 billion.
Six NSCs are currently in service. Coast Guard cutters Hamilton and James are stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, and Coast Guard cutters Bertholf, Waesche, Stratton, and Munro are stationed in Alameda, California. Kimball and Midgett will join the other West Coast-based NSCs to keep pace with the dynamic security environment in the Pacific, change the character of maritime operations, and strengthen maritime governance while supporting strategic partners.