Guard station in Fort Lauderdale gets new commander June 17, 2011|By Philippe Buteau Sun Sentinel Effective noon Friday, the men and women of Fort Lauderdale's U.S. Coast Guard station began saluting a new commanding officer. Lt. Douglas Watson turned over command of the facility, on the south side of Port Everglades inlet, to Lt. Paul Turner. Capt. Christopher Scraba, from Coast Guard Sector Miami, presided over the change-of-command ceremony, and U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, was keynote speaker. "The United States is a maritime nation and nowhere is that more evident than in South Florida," West said. "And I want to let you all know the South Florida community values the Coast Guard." West thanked Watson for a "job well done." "You and your crew added your mark to the 200-year history of the Coast Guard," said West, a former Army lieutenant colonel. Watson, the 13th commanding officer of the Fort Lauderdale station, served three years in that position. During his turn at the podium, he said more than 500 search and rescue operations had been carried out and eight drug smugglers apprehended on his watch. He later told the Sun Sentinel what Coast Guard Station Fort Lauderdale was able to accomplish with so few people — 58 active duty and 28 reservists — is the main memory he will carry with him to his new job, command duty officer of Coast Guard District 17 in Juneau, Alaska. Before handing over command, Watson thanked his wife and four children, who he said had to deal with the "most difficult person" (himself) and offered his successor some advice. "Paul, don't waste a day," Watson said. Turner, a 15-year Coast Guard veteran, told the Sun Sentinel he will use a philosophy of "mission excellence" in his new command. "My philosophy includes people — the men and women of this station, their families, and the voting public," said Turner, 47, a native of Fort Worth, Texas. In these difficult economic times, he promised to spend taxpayer dollars wisely. "I want to make sure we do the right thing with the money we receive," the Coast Guard's new commander in Fort Lauderdale said.