Coast Guard captain temporarily relieved of command pending investigation

A U.S. Coast Guard HC-130H plane. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

RALEIGH — According to a press release by the U.S. Coast Guard, Capt. Matthew Baer has been temporarily relieved from command of Coast Guard Sector North Carolina as of June 20. 

Baer’s Coast Guard bio says he lives in Wilmington, has numerous merit awards and has been assigned in the past to the USCGC Diligence in Wilmington and the USCGC Juniper in Newport, Rhode Island. He also served in several other positions in Virginia and Georgia as well as at the Coast Guard Special Missions Training Center aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. 

“Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath, Fifth Coast Guard District commander, temporarily relieved Baer due to a loss of confidence in his ability to effectively command the sector, pending an administrative investigation and final determination,” the press release stated. 

According to his bio, Gilreath assumed the duties of commander, Fifth Coast Guard District, in May 2022.  In that role, he is the “operational commander of all U.S. Coast Guard missions from the North Carolina, South Carolina border to New Jersey, encompassing nearly 3,000 Coast Guard active duty, reserve, and civilian personnel.” 

Cmdr. Courtney Sergent has temporarily assumed the position of sector commander to maintain unit operations and Baer has been temporarily reassigned to the Fifth Coast Guard District headquarters in Portsmouth, per the release. 

North State Journal reached out to the Coast Guard for more details but was told that due to the ongoing investigation, “we are unable to share any additional information beyond what is in the press release at this time.” 

In other recent news, North Carolina’s Elizabeth City Coast Guard crew was part of the search effort for the OceanGate submersible vehicle that went missing while exploring and documenting the wreckage of the Titanic. Contact had been lost with the vehicle on June 18. 

A C-130 aircraft from the Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City completed multiple searches for the underwater vehicle, per the Twitter timeline by the official Twitter account for the First Coast Guard District.

The U.S. Coast Guard Northeast reported conducting multiple search flights around 900 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts; two flights on June 19 and another two flights on June 21.  

On June 22, the U.S. Coast Guard held a press conference indicating a debris field of the submersible’s parts had been located and it appeared to have imploded, killing all five on board.  

“The debris is consistent with the catastrophic implosion of the vessel,” Rear Adm. John Mauger, commander of the First Coast Guard District, said at a news conference. 

OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush was on board the submersible, along with British businessman Hamish Harding, French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet, and Pakistani investor Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman. 

About A.P. Dillon 1133 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_