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Change of Command at Coast Guard Research and Development Center

New London — It was a "twofer" at Fort Trumbull Monday as Capt. Dennis Evans turned over leadership of the Coast Guard Research and Development Center to Capt. Greg Rothrock, and retired after nearly 25 years of military service.

Admitting that all of the attention made him uncomfortable, Evans "turned the spotlight around" on the staff whom he's led for the past three years, detailing some of the projects carried out by each department such as developing what capabilities the Coast Guard's new icebreaker fleet should have to researching how to combat hoax distress callers.

These are the "doers" of the research center, he said.

As for Evans' career, his experiences can largely be boiled down into two categories: 40-degree days, a reference from the television show "The Wire" meaning unmemorable days, and indelible days.

July 4, 1994, or day 1,451 in his Coast Guard career, was an indelible day. He spent all day interdicting Cuban migrants who were fleeing the country at a massive rate.

"To take everything you own in the world and put into a backpack size container and leave everything behind, boy, don't we have it good," Evans said. "Up until that point, my Coast Guard journey was about education. It was about adventure. ... That day it really became about service. It really became about what we do in the Coast Guard, quite literally so that others may live."

In the 1970s and the 1980s, the research center – the only facility of its kind in the Coast Guard – focused on modernizing search and rescue and aids in navigation, Rear Adm. Joseph Vojvodich, the service's acquisition chief, explained. In the 1980s and '90s, the focus shifted to oil spill response and then to cutter acquisition programs in the late '90s and early 2000s. Following 9/11, the center provided "a big picture look at homeland defense," Vojvodich said.

In reality, the Coast Guard's heritage of research and innovation goes well beyond the legacy of the research center, Rothrock said. In the late 1860s, the lighthouse service began testing lamps and inventing new apparatus at a depot on Staten Island, N.Y., he explained.

Evans and Rothrock are both Coast Guard Academy graduates. Rothrock was most recently working at Coast Guard headquarters as a program reviewer.



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