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St. Petersburg Coast Guard commander heading to Hawaii

ST. PETERSBURG — Coast Guard Capt. Tim Close, who is overseeing the Coast Guard's Deepwater Horizon response for Florida's west coast, will leave his post as St. Petersburg commander this week, officials said.

He is being transferred to a new post Hawaii, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Mariana O'Leary.

Close, in command since 2008, will be chief of staff for the 14th Coast guard District in Honolulu.

His replacement is Capt. Sheryl L. Dickinson.

Dickinson previously worked as senior legal adviser for a Department of Defense task force conducting counternarcotics operations in Key West from 2007 to 2009.

A change of command ceremony is scheduled at the Mahaffey Theater at 10 a.m. Friday.

Close was the Coast Guard's public face during several high-profile events, including the response to the Haiti earthquake and last year's search for four missing boaters in which only former USF football player Nick Schuyler survived.

Most recently, Close led Sector St. Petersburg as it became the command post for Florida's west coast response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Working on that response alongside Close has been Timyn Rice, the state Department of Environmental Protection's on-scene coordinator.

For the first month at the unified command post, the pair shared 12- to 16-hour days readying a stretch from Taylor to Collier counties for oil, Rice said in an interview.

"Over the last couple months I've come to find him a very trusted friend," Rice said.

Now Rice will have Dickinson with whom to share all those conference calls and daily planning. He and Close have spent the past week bringing her up to speed on their operations, Rice said.

"She seems like a very nice and capable captain," he said.

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St. Petersburg Coast Guard commander heading to Hawaii 07/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 5:25pm]
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