ANCHORAGE -

The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska is set to receive a new commander, fresh from nearly two years overseeing its northeast U.S. operations.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Sen. Lisa Murkowski congratulated Rear Adm. Daniel B. Abel on his nomination to lead the Coast Guard’s 17th District. Since May 2012, he has been responsible for Coast Guard operations in its 1st District, including New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

“Once again the Coast Guard challenges in Alaska have attracted one of the service's best and brightest,” Murkowski said in the statement. “I look forward to working with Rear Admiral Abel as we increase our focus on Arctic strategic priorities.”

According to an online Coast Guard biography (PDF) Abel is a qualified pilot for the Coast Guard’s H-65 Dolphin helicopter and HU-25 jet, with an aviation tour as a search-and-rescue/law enforcement helicopter pilot in Miami, Fla. Prior to commanding the 1st District, Abel supervised the Coast Guard’s “Rescue 21” project to improve its system for receiving and responding to distress calls, as well as commanding Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass., the Coast Guard’s third-largest base.

Abel replaces Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, who reached flag rank in July 2008 and has headed the Juneau-based 17th District since May 2011. In addition to discussing the Coast Guard’s role in U.S. Arctic strategy, he was also a key player in May 2013 hearings on the Shell drilling unit Kulluk's grounding on New Year’s Eve in 2012. The Coast Guard has said its report on the grounding won’t be public until early this year.

“I want to take this chance to thank Tom for the incredible dedication he showed in serving our state,” Murkowski said. “Wherever he ends up, I want him to know that a grateful Alaska stands behind him.”