2013-10-17 / News Briefs

Coast Guard Crew Excels in Readiness

By Petty Officer 3rd Class MyeongHi Clegg


Recreational boaters rely on the Bay's navigational buoys, serviced by the Coast Guard. BELOW: A Coast Guard swimmer jumps into the water for a simulated rescue. (Photos by MyeongHi Clegg) Recreational boaters rely on the Bay's navigational buoys, serviced by the Coast Guard. BELOW: A Coast Guard swimmer jumps into the water for a simulated rescue. (Photos by MyeongHi Clegg) Man overboard!

The alarm sounds and each crew member rushes to a different area of the ship. Everyone knows his role and responds alongside his shipmates. The lookout fixes his gaze on the man in the water and relays his position to the bridge. The boat turns around and gets in position to make the rescue. Surface swimmers put on their flippers and masks. Snorkels are positioned in mouths and lines are attached to belts. Swimmers splash into the water as line handlers prepare to bring the victim onboard. Oscar, the victim, is pulled onto the deck safely. The crew gathers around Oscar as the boatswain begins to speak. Everyone listens, except for Oscar, who is just a lifeless dummy. It’s another training day for the Coast Guard crew and it’s a successful one.

The Coast Guard Cutter Willow’s crew knows what it takes to run a successful ship. Maintenance, drills, and around-the-clock watches are just a few of the things that help keep everything afloat. The one element that helps the crew prepare for and accomplish each task is teamwork. The crew of the 225- foot buoy tender, home-ported in Newport, has been put to the test this summer with a barrage of inspections on top of their regular aids to navigation missions. They met the challenge.

"Each time the crew responds and does phenomenally,” said Chief Warrant Officer Steven Carriere. "The months of April through November saw one inspection after another.”

Their high standard of performance was recognized when the crew was presented with the Sumner I. Kimball award this year. It’s awarded to units that excel in readiness. A team of experts inspects the rescue and survival gear, boat maintenance, charts, and the crew’s proficiency in drills.

“Everyone put in the effort,” said Carriere. “From the boat crews that performed the drills, to the storekeeper that ordered the supplies, to the engineers who maintained the boats, and to the food service specialists who worked late to feed us, everyone came together as a team to achieve a high standard of readiness.”

This level of teamwork not only prepares the crew for missions and inspections, but it brings the crew together in a way beyond just being co-workers. The crew knows that no matter the task, whether it is working a buoy, doing small boat drills, or responding to a man overboard, their shipmates will pull together and get the job done.

“We look out for each other,” said Seaman Jenna Ciaramella. “If one person sees another pulling chain, they stop to help, no matter how tired they are. We have a lot of long days, but at the end of the day no one wants to see someone left behind.”

As the workday ends, the crew members quickly change into the colors of their favorite football team and join each other on the mess deck for a football game and some good-natured trash talk.

“We’re like a family,” said Ciaramella. “We can have our ups and downs, but we come together to get things accomplished no matter what. We’re there for each other. There’s nothing like the camaraderie on a ship.”

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