The Petersburg Coast Guard ship Anacapa said goodbye to its commander on Monday, with a woman taking over the helm of the 110-foot cutter for the first time. The outgoing officer offered a tearful goodbye to the crew and talked about some of his favorite memories at sea during the ceremony.

Outgoing Lt. Commander Ruben Boudreaux and incoming Lt. Commander Kathryn Cyr offer a salute to each other during the Anacapa’s change of command ceremony

Lieutenant Commander Ruben Boudreaux spent two years at the helm of the Anacapa, which completes search and rescue, homeland security and law enforcement missions. He said the ship has had its share of challenges at sea, from interactions with Canadian fleets to the widely-covered sinking of a Japanese ghost ship last year.

“We were the folks that came in and had to start from day one, having to get the job done,” Boudreaux said. “The pace was intense and we actually had to make up some hours and really get after it. It was kind of a blur the last two years, honestly. Maxing our underway time and going out there and getting the job done, it really hasn’t changed in terms of priorities, quite honestly. We’re still called upon to perform the full gamut of Coast Guard operations and missions, and I expect that to continue.”

At the ceremony, Boudreaux was visibly sad to see his time with the Anacapa end, tearing up during his remarks. But he repeatedly came back to the Anacapa’s excellent crew, which he said he’d never seen equaled in his time at sea.

“Sweat. It takes a whole bunch of sweat to keep this cutter running smoothly, and top to bottom, these guys flat out get it down,” Bourdreaux said during his remarks. “Gallons and gallons of sweat, no doubt, has dripped into the bilges and on to the decks over these years. And I can tell you that I have never been a part of a more hardworking and dedicated crew over my years in the Coast Guard. And I love that those characteristics that I talked about are our reputation, not just some desirable attributes to which we strive.”

Boudreaux will head to Malta next year after a stop in DC for additional training. But even with a tearful farewell, Boudreaux offered advice after the ceremony for his relief, lieutenant commander Kathryn Cyr.

“I have been encouraging her this week just to make it her own,” Boudreaux said. “She’s been put in this position of leadership for a very good reason. She comes to the table with some amazing credentials, well qualified for the job. And I would just say, make it your own and enjoy the ride.”

Cyr’s only been with the crew for about a week, so she hasn’t put that advice to use just yet. But she says that she just wants to maintain an easy transition, and it’s only after that that she’ll try to put her focus towards certain priorities and trainings.

“Right now, since we have people transferring in and out, keeping people up on training so we can respond on search and rescue,” Cyr said. “Just so we can keep up on our qualifications and do the best job we can for the community and the Coast Guard in this area.”

Cyr comes from a long Coast Guard background, including a stop in Juneau from 2008 to 2011. Most recently, she worked as the Operations Officer for the 210-foot cutter Dependable based in Cape May, New Jersey. Notably, she’ll be the first woman commander of the Anacapa in its 23-year history. Cyr acknowledged that having that title was special for her, but she said it wouldn’t change how she led the ship.

“I think it’s important, being the first, the example, so that other young    women in the Coast Guard can look to me as something they aspire to. But leadership-wise, it doesn’t change anything else.”

The change of command ceremony for Petersburg’s other cutter, the Elderberry, will take place on July 19. In Petersburg, I’m Robbie Feinberg.