With a series of salutes, Cmdr. Lindsay N. Weaver on Friday became the new commanding officer of Pittsburgh's Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit.
"To be able to take command, it's a huge honor," she said.
The posting makes Cmdr. Weaver, who just turned 40, the unit's first female and first Latina top officer. She received her command in a traditional Coast Guard ceremony -- complete with inspection of her new unit -- at the University Club in Oakland. Members of her family, including her husband, Matt Marcenelle, and their 11-year-son, Nicholas, sat in the front row to witness the change of command.
"I think there are a lot who are going to look at her as a role model, someone who shows you can blend a military career with a personal life and find success both personally and professionally," said Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O'Hara, the recently retired vice commandant of the Coast Guard. According to 2011 statistics, 15.7 percent of the Coast Guard active duty workforce is female.
Cmdr. Weaver comes to Pittsburgh from Washington, D.C., where she served as military aide to Adm. Brice-O'Hara, whom Cmdr. Weaver called a mentor.
Adm. Brice-O'Hara, who watched as her former staffer received the command, described Cmdr. Weaver as competent and a good communicator.
"She, as a maritime safety and security expert, has the right credentials and the depth of understanding to meet the needs of the Port of Pittsburgh," Adm. Brice-O'Hara said after the ceremony.
Cmdr. Weaver, who was born in Colombia, moved to New York City when she was 10 years old. She graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a bachelor's degree in marine science in 1995 and in 2002 received a master's in public health from Tulane University in New Orleans.
During her 17-year career in the Coast Guard, Cmdr. Weaver has served at ports including New Orleans and Key West, Fla. She was deployed to Mobile, Ala., to assist with Hurricane Katrina disaster response and in 2007 planned an exercise to prepare for possible oil spills.
In Pittsburgh, Cmdr. Weaver is relieving outgoing Cmdr. Richard V. Timme. Cmdr. Timme, whose three-year command included management of river safety during the G-20 summit and 10 presidential and vice-presidential visits, will depart Pittsburgh to attend the master of national security strategy program at the National War College in Washington, D.C.
Starting Friday, Cmdr. Weaver oversees 328 miles of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela rivers and a unit of 59 active duty, reserve and civilian personnel. Her unit is tasked with keeping the rivers secure, safe from environmental pollutants and open for commerce, as well as inspecting water vessels.
Cmdr. Weaver said her family was excited to move to Pittsburgh for the three-year assignment. Her husband grew up in Bridgeville and has raised their 11-year-old son to be a Steelers fan.
"I must say, the only surprise that I did not anticipate was the language barrier," she said, joking that her husband had given her a translation guidebook to understanding the local dialect.
Kaitlynn Riely: email@example.com or 412-263-1707. First Published July 14, 2012 4:00 AM