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New London — U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Chris Sinnett retired after 30 years in the service during a ceremony at the Coast Guard Academy Friday, March 29.
Sinnett is a former commanding officer of the Coast Guard barque Eagle. He most recently served as the deputy commander of the Coast Guard Personnel Service Center, where he oversaw all of the personnel services, from recruitment through retirement, for the Coast Guard’s 50,000 member workforce with a $4 billion annual payroll.
He was awarded the Legion of Merit, gold star in lieu of third award, and a certificate of appreciation from the president. He also received the commodore’s pennant and night order books from his time on Eagle. Seven other Eagle skippers were among the crowd of about 90 at the ceremony.
During the ceremony Sinnett thanked many of the people who supported him throughout his career, including his wife Kathy, and daughters, Sarah and Allison. The family lives in Ledyard.
Sinnett graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1983 and reported aboard the Cutter Taney. The operations officer, Ivan Luke, became the friend and mentor who would have the single most significant impact on his career, he said. Luke practiced the “art of navigation” as opposed to the “task of navigation,” said Sinnett, who went on to serve on several other ships before the Eagle.
Sinnett recalled sailing with the locals in Ketchikan, Alaska when he was stationed on the Cutter Naushon. It was there that he met Kathy, who began sailing at the same yacht club after she moved there to be a public health nurse for the state.
They went to Miami together for nine years and three assignments. In 1997, Sinnett was assigned to the Eagle as the executive officer — a job he said convinced him to stay in the Coast Guard past the 20-year mark.
“I had so much fun and was on such a high of personal energy, enthusiasm with the cadets and sailing adventure, that I saw the clear reason to stay in the Coast Guard long enough to make captain, and that was to come back and be the skipper on Eagle,” he said.
Sinnett landed his dream job in 2006, after he studied at the Naval War College, commanded a cutter in Boston and worked at the U.S. Embassy in Barbados and the Atlantic Area command in Portsmouth, Va. In Virginia, he helped organize the largest mobilization of Coast Guard forces in 25 years during Hurricane Katrina.
On Eagle, Sinnett said he enjoyed developing future generations of Coast Guard leaders while sailing the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean and Mediterranean waters, and meeting many people within the tall ships community.
He returned to the Atlantic Area to be the chief of the Operations Response Branch before going to the Personnel Service Center in Washington, D.C. Sinnett said he plans to stay in southeastern Connecticut, spend time with his family, and keep sailing.