After 20 years at Coast Guard Research and Development Center, technical director hangs up his hat

New London — Shortly after Tim Girton started working at the Coast Guard Research and Development Center 20 years ago, he helped to come up with a system to help local port captains better determine legitimate traffic versus "questionable" traffic in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Since then, his work has included helping with the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, including establishing a system to field and vet thousands of suggestions from the public about how to stop the spill and clean it up, and researching ways to increase the Coast Guard's communication capabilities in the Arctic, among many others projects.

"You're always working on different things. We don't do basic-level research. We do applied research. We're interfacing with people doing cutting-edge technologies and seeing if they will work for the Coast Guard," Girton, 62, of Mystic said, referring to what he likes about his job.

He is retiring after two decades at the center, the last 12 of which he's spent as technical director, overseeing the 50 to 60 projects the center is involved in annually.

Girton has been involved with the Coast Guard his entire professional life. After graduating from the Coast Guard Academy, he served on active duty and then in the reserves.

Bert Macesker, executive director at the R&D center, said he refers to Girton as the "the glue, the center of gravity in terms of managing the workforce so that we can have a successful portfolio of projects."

The center is involved in research and development involving all 11 of the Coast Guard's missions — "everything from law enforcement to search and rescue to oil spill response to aids and navigation," Girton said.

Currently the Arctic is a big area of interest for the Coast Guard and the center is working on a number of projects related to that, such as using remote vehicles to map oil spills and how the Coast Guard might respond to a major search and rescue case in the region.

Asked why he's retiring, Girton said, "It got to the point where I'm 62, I want to have fun with my family and enjoy myself." He said he plans to stay in the area.

j.bergman@theday.com

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