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Cape D welcomes 1st female commander

Jessica Shafer was stationed at Peninsula’s National Motor Lifeboat School a dozen years ago

Observer staff report

Published on June 18, 2018 3:40PM

Last changed on June 18, 2018 4:30PM

Lt. Cdr. Thomas Condit conducted his last inspection of Cape Disappointment personnel, while newly appointed Lt. Jessica Shafer conducted her first this Monday. Shafer enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in 2002 and was stationed at Cape Disappointment until 2006, where she was assigned to the National Motor Lifeboat School. She assisted the response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans during two separate temporary deployments in 2005 and 2006. Twelve years after leaving, she and her family will make the Long Beach Peninsula their home once again.

ROB HILSON/For the Observer

Lt. Cdr. Thomas Condit conducted his last inspection of Cape Disappointment personnel, while newly appointed Lt. Jessica Shafer conducted her first this Monday. Shafer enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in 2002 and was stationed at Cape Disappointment until 2006, where she was assigned to the National Motor Lifeboat School. She assisted the response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans during two separate temporary deployments in 2005 and 2006. Twelve years after leaving, she and her family will make the Long Beach Peninsula their home once again.

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From left to right: Capt. William Timmons, Lt. Cdr. Thomas Condit, Lt. Jessica Shafer and Chaplain Anthony Stallings stood at attention during the presentation of colors at the U.S. Coast Guard Change of Command ceremony on Monday.

ROB HILSON/For the Observer

From left to right: Capt. William Timmons, Lt. Cdr. Thomas Condit, Lt. Jessica Shafer and Chaplain Anthony Stallings stood at attention during the presentation of colors at the U.S. Coast Guard Change of Command ceremony on Monday.

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Lt. Jessica Shafer, center, Lt. Cmdr. Tom Condit and Chaplain Anthony Stallings, right, listened to Capt. William Timmons’ opening remarks at the Change of Command Ceremony on Monday.

ROB HILSON/For the Observer

Lt. Jessica Shafer, center, Lt. Cmdr. Tom Condit and Chaplain Anthony Stallings, right, listened to Capt. William Timmons’ opening remarks at the Change of Command Ceremony on Monday.

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Lt. Jessica Shafer was offered congratulations as newly installed commander of U.S. Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment by outgoing Commanding Officer Tom Condit. The Change of Command Ceremony was held at the Coast Guard Station near Ilwaco Monday morning.

ROB HILSON/For the Observer

Lt. Jessica Shafer was offered congratulations as newly installed commander of U.S. Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment by outgoing Commanding Officer Tom Condit. The Change of Command Ceremony was held at the Coast Guard Station near Ilwaco Monday morning.

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Lt. Jessica Shafer’s husband Tim Woody was in attendance to witness his wife become commander of Station Cape Disappointment.

ROB HILSON/For the Observer

Lt. Jessica Shafer’s husband Tim Woody was in attendance to witness his wife become commander of Station Cape Disappointment.

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Lt. Jessica Shafer headed to the podium as she was formally introduced as commander of Station Cape Disappointment on Monday. Shafer previously served as executive officer at Station Fort Lauderdale in 2015. During the 2017 response to Hurricane Maria, she was deployed to Puerto Rico to assist in establishing the Unified Command for the western half of the island during Operation Coqui Relief.

ROB HILSON/For the Observer

Lt. Jessica Shafer headed to the podium as she was formally introduced as commander of Station Cape Disappointment on Monday. Shafer previously served as executive officer at Station Fort Lauderdale in 2015. During the 2017 response to Hurricane Maria, she was deployed to Puerto Rico to assist in establishing the Unified Command for the western half of the island during Operation Coqui Relief.

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ILWACO — After 141 years, U.S. Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment welcomed its first female commander during a time-honored ceremony Monday morning.

Lt. Jessica Shafer was formally put in charge of the station where she served between 2002 and 2006 with the neighboring National Motor Lifeboat School. In an amusing echo in time, 14 years ago in June 2004, she was a top finisher in the annual Beach to Chowder Run, the 2018 edition of which was held last weekend.

During Monday’s traditional military ceremony, departing Lt. Cdr. Thomas Condit transferred command to Shafer, with Capt. Bill Timmons, commander of Sector Columbia River, presiding over the occasion.

Shafer most recently served as executive officer at Station Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Shafer received her officer commissioning in 2013 after starting her Coast Guard career in 2002 as an enlisted member. Her first assignment out of Training Center Cape May, New Jersey was at the National Motor Lifeboat School, which partners with Station Cape Disappointment. During her enlisted career, Shafer earned her coxswain, heavy weather coxswain, tactical coxswain and surfman qualifications as well as multiple boarding officer certifications.

“Surfman” is among the Coast Guard’s highest-level qualifications. In 2006, Cape D’s Beth Slade was the only woman in the entire active Coast Guard with the rank, which allows those who have it to drive boats on search-and-rescue missions in the most dangerous conditions. As of this March, there were only four active-duty female surfmen.

All Shafer’s experience will come in handy at Cape D, one of the nation’s busiest maritime search-and-rescue facilities. Operations at the cape and adjacent waters known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific” began in 1877 under auspices of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, which merged with another agency in 1915 to become the Coast Guard. Cape D was home to the Life-Saving Service’s first full-time crew in 1882.

Condit will be reporting to the International Training Division at Training Center Yorktown, Va., as the branch chief of the Mobile Training Team.

During Condit’s three years commanding Cape D, “he supervised and ensured the safety of 80 active duty and reserve crew members while they executed more than 1,100 cases saving or assisting 308 lives and $40 million in property. He accumulated more than 240 hours underway while managing one of only two surf stations in the Coast Guard with Level One Ports Waterway and Coastal Security responsibilities,” the Coast Guard said in a press release. “His crews executed 582 law enforcement boardings and conducted 50 PWCS [Ports, Waterways and Coastal Security] missions, helping safeguard the Columbia River’s $24 billion maritime transportation system. Condit and his leadership team oversaw initial certifications of four surfmen, 12 tactical coxswains and more than 150 crewman.”

Condit has been an active member of the local community during his tour of duty in south Pacific County. He was promoted from lieutenant to lieutenant commander in July 2016 while stationed here.











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