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Coast Guard officer on South Portland-based ship relieved of his command

Coast Guard Cutter Marcus Hanna, a 175-foot buoy tender homeported in South Portland, Maine and Coast Guard Cutter Shrike, an 87-foot patrol boat based in Sandy Hook, New Jersey transit in Lower New York Bay during a mass casualty drill conducted Sept. 21, 2018. The Coast Guard along with multiple agencies, support maritime safety and security during the country’s largest National Special Security Event (NSSE). (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Hunter Medley)

The U.S. Coast Guard has removed the commanding officer of a ship based in South Portland because of a loss of confidence in his ability, the agency announced Monday.

Chief Warrant Officer J.L. Horne was permanently relieved as the commanding officer of the cutter Marcus Hanna, a 175-foot long buoy tender based in South Portland. The vessel has a crew of 24 and conducts patrols and maintains navigational aids off the Maine coast.

The announcement from the First District headquarters in Boston does not say what specifically prompted the unusual decision to relieve Horne of his command. A Coast Guard spokeswoman said Horne’s removal was an administrative action but no additional details would be provided.

“Rear Adm. Andrew Tiongson, First Coast Guard District commander, effected the relief due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command,” the statement said. “A commanding officer is charged with the ultimate responsibility of the safety of the crew and the safe navigation of the cutter. Tiongson appointed Chief Warrant Officer P. W. Morkis to assume temporary command of the cutter until a permanent commanding officer can be named.”

Horne took over command of the cutter Marcus Hanna two years ago, according to the Coast Guard. He has temporarily been assigned to Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, it said.

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© 2019 the Portland Press Herald