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Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Buckthorn retires with change of command ceremony

SAULT STE. MARIE — The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Buckthorn had its change of command in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday afternoon.

The Buckthorn was commissioned in 1964 as a buoy tender and an ice-breaker. The Soo has been its home since 1970, with a crew of around 16 guardsmen.

In a ceremony at the Sector Northern Great Lakes base, Chief Warrant Officer Jeffrey Ritter officially retired as commander of the Buckthorn. He was in charge of the vessel for the last four years.


Ritter has been in the Coast Guard a total of 22 years. He gave an emotional farewell speech.

“If you want to understand my tears, and feel my heart bleeding on my sleeve right now – it has been my happy place for the last four years. I have literally woken up every dog-gone day happy to come to work,” said Ritter.

Ritter says he plans to help his wife with her Yooper pasty business and get more active in their two children’s activities in the Soo area.

The new commander of the Buckthorn is Christopher Connolly.

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