BUSAN, South Korea—Military Sealift Command's (MSC) operations hub on the Korean peninsula changed commanders, Aug. 19, during a ceremony aboard the large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317) at Pier 8, here.
Navy Cmdr. Matthew L. Nicholas relieved Navy Cmdr. Eric J. St. Peter as commanding officer of Military Sealift Command Office Korea (MSCO-K), which is a sub-regional command under MSC Far East out of Singapore.
“Over two years ago, when I made my introductory speech, I stated that the day was not to be remembered for me taking command,” said St. Peter. “As I reflect over the past 26 months, I realize that once again, today is not about me…because of my staff’s efforts, Korea is poised from a strategic sealift perspective to ‘Fight Tonight’ should deterrence fail."
During the ceremony, Navy Capt. Stephen F. Fuller, commodore, MSC Far East, presented St. Peter with the Meritorious Service Medal recognizing his achievements over the past two years.
Additionally, Brig. Gen. Kook Yoon, commanding general, Republic of Korea (ROK) Transportation Command, presented St. Peter a Certificate of Appreciation recognizing his contributions to strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance through the execution of more than 34 operations and combined exercises in the Korean peninsula.
“(Cmdr. St. Peter) you’ve done a phenomenal job leading this remarkable command demonstrating MSC’s commitment to strengthening the alliance between the ROK and the United States,” said Fuller.
Nicholas, an EP3 pilot, takes command having served most recently as current operations fleet reconnaissance officer at Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
“Cmdr. St. Peter’s dedication is evident throughout this vibrant organization and community,” said Nicholas. “He is an exemplar of outstanding naval leadership and I consider it a privilege to continue his work and lead this committed team of professionals.”
During the ceremony, Fuller applauded St. Peter’s accomplishments during his 26-month tenure as MSCO-K’s commander. Under St. Peter’s watch, the command hosted more than 85 on-site distinguished visitor and flag visits, and hundreds of port calls, which enhanced the U.S.-ROK alliance, according to Fuller.
Other accomplishments include planning and execution of more than 34 major operations and exercises; the installation of shore power at two berths at Pier 8, here, which saves MSC more than $12,500 per day in operating costs; and the advocation and collaboration with host nation officials for a multi-million-dollar dredging project at Chinhae ammunition pier.
In addition, St. Peter developed a deep relationship with the local Busan community mainly due to his involvement and partnership with the Meiwon Orphanage here.
Hwi Soo Han, social welfare chief director, Meiwon Orphanage, was at the ceremony to present St. Peter with a Plaque of Appreciation on behalf of the Meiwon Orphanage.
“You have always cuddled our children with loving smiles and a caring mind,” said Han, through an interpreter. “As a loyal guardian angel of Meiwon, you have nurtured their dreams and hopes for the future.”
MSCO-K’s mission is to help defend the ROK by delivering fuel, ammunition and supplies to U.S. Navy, and partnered and allied vessels. On any given day, MSCO-K has between three to ten MSC ships anchored or berthed at piers throughout the Korean peninsula, with about 14 ships a year performing repairs and maintenance in the ROK. Additionally, every year MSC loads approximately seven million barrels of fuel from ROK to deliver to various locations throughout the Pacific.
MSC operates approximately 120 non-combatant, merchant mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships at sea, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces.