22 October 2008

The materials process... getting what you need to do your job

The Coast Guard Auxiliary National Supply Center (ANSC) provides the majority of our public education materials, our manuals, our training materials, and our government postage. Many members will need some of these materials for vessel exams, classes, public booths, and your own training. I'd encourage each 76 member to review the ANSC catalog and let our FSO-MA, Ron, know what you need. The current catalog can be found here:

Please remember that only Ron and I may place orders so please coordinate your materials orders with Ron.

Real time operational photography

As some of you know I’ve been heavily engaged in the Coast Guard’s approach to Web 2.0 and social media. On Friday, 17 October, the Commandant spoke to Federal News Radio and said:
How much applicability is there regarding this type of technology and aggregation of social behavior to actual operations in the Coast Guard? If you think about video and imagery that can be translated immediately to blog sites and Web sites, the potential implications for how we might monitor a search and rescue case in the future -- if we're able to put that kind of technology out on our small boats is pretty fantastic if you think about it. - ADM Allen on Federal News Radio
Inspired, I called up Ken Babick and got a crew spot on a training mission on Saturday, and started working out how to use my iPhone to post images to the web while underway. Within an hour I had a process prototyped and at 10am Saturday morning we hit the water and started taking photos. These photos were then uploaded in real time and within 90 seconds – 2 minutes were available on the web as blog posts.
The blog can be seen here:

The process I used is as follows:
  1. Turn on the iPhone
  2. Load the photo application
  3. Take a photo
  4. Decide if it should be uploaded
  5. Choose "Email" from the photo application which opens the email application
  6. Choose the Flickr address from contacts and send the email
Key learnings from the test:
  1. The process worked, it took about 90 seconds to two minutes from turning on the iPhone until I was able to confirm the photo had appeared on the blog.
  2. The first minute of this time my full attention was on the iPhone, I wasn't really focused on doing anything else, situational awareness was significantly lowered (we intentionally put me on the target vessel where I was extra crew).
  3. A custom application would be really nice, on where I could shoot the photo and then press one button to accept it and send.
  4. The GPS coordinates were very accurate except for 3 cases (15%) where the locations were off by up to a mile: 
  5. The email process I used would allow me to add notes but I did not do so. Again a custom application would be nice, one that would allow you to preset the facility number, coxswain name, order number, email addresses to send to (Command Center, Intel, the Aux Ops officer) etc. for inclusion in the email.
  6. This is all dependent on 3G or EDGE network connectivity so it is a near shore approach. The iPhone will store images with geodata for uploading latter but this takes away from the benefits of near real time imaging.
Obviously there are some issues regarding security and privacy to be worked out but overall this was a success. Over the winter we’ll be experimenting more. If you’ve used a camera phone during operations to send images I’d love to hear about your experiences.

cgblogtest's items Go to cgblogtest's photostream

19 October 2008

Surface operations: the cold water season is upon us

The average water temperatures on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers has fallen below 60 degrees F and we are now back in our cold weather PPE. Please make sure you have all your winter PPE and that it is in good condition.

15 October 2008

Dues time

If you have not already done so please send your dues to the FSO-FN.

11 October 2008

Welcome Paul!

Paul, our newly appointed FSO-VE, is the first to take up my invitation and post to the Spirit blog. I hope he is the first of many. Since this whole blogging initiative can be intimidating I've put together the first of a series of tutorials that are posted at the USCG Pacific Northwest blog:

Creating a blog (I've already done this step for our blog)
A simple post
Adding photos from Flickr

F76 members, let me know when you are ready to participate and I'll send you an invite. I'm happy to walk you through all the steps of signing up and your first few posts.

10 October 2008

Safety Notice from Orion Safety Products

Orion Safety Products has uncovered a potential problem with their Sky blazer product. Although a product recall has not been instituted they are recommending that all retailers, distributors and dealers remove the Sky blazer product from their shelves and to discontinue sale of this product to the market place at this time. For more details visit the Orion web site at

09 October 2008

Keep an eye on the ATONs

I was on patrol a week ago Sunday with Ken Babick and we came across the 1 buoy on the Willamette. It had obviously been hit buy a white boat. Just a reminder that another thing we do on our Marine Observation Mission (MOM) patrols is keep an eye on the Aids to Navigation (ATONs) looking for:

  • damage 
  • lights not functioning
  • a buoy out of position, or
  • a missing ATON

If you are a boater please do not tie off to a buoy or other aid. If you strike an aid please call it in to the nearest Coast Guard unit. Buoys, daymarks and other aids are fairly tough but they can be damaged or moved out of position. An out of position aid, a missing aid, or an aid with a failed light can be a serious danger to navigation and can put your fellow boaters at risk.

USCG Meritorious Team Commendation for Rose Festival 2008

Congratulations to the 16 members of Flotilla 76  and all of our shipmates, Active Duty, Reserve and Auxiliary, who earned the Meritorious Team Commendation for their participation in the Portland Rose Festival 2008 Fleet Week.

The Auxiliary put in almost 2,300 hours on the water, in the air, and in the command center this year.  The Fleet Week events are, by far, our largest, most complex activity. Once again our performance has been recognized as exemplary.

Blogger basics: Your first post

I've put together a very brief video showing you how easy it is to post to the Spirit of 76 blog once you have an account. If you are a member of the Flotilla (or anyone in the Division) who would like to post please send me an email.

So, after you are set up to post, here is the basic process:

I apologize for the poor audio quality, my good microphone is broken, we'll do better in the future.

In future videos I'll show you how to add photos, embed video, use block quotes, and other formatting options.

08 October 2008

Great Coast Guard Post: What to expect in a boarding

The D13 blog has a great post by an experienced USCG boarding officer. This is a must read for our Vessel Examiners and is an excellent piece of public education.

Thank you!

Everyone, Thanks for a great meeting and the great fellowship this evening. I'm proud to count myself in your company.

PPE: We need your drysuit, life jacket and survival equipment requests

With the cooling river temperatures it is time to check your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If you are in surface operations, are a current trainee, or plan to participate this winter please review the following list:

  • Dry suit
  • Type III Life Vest
  • Survival vest
  • Knife
  • Whistle
  • Mirror
  • Strobe light
  • Gear bag

If you do not have all of the items in the list please let me know. We'll do our best to equip you based on availability from District. I will need sizes if you need a life vest and/or a dry suit, please check this table from Mustang Survival:

We're usually in our dry suits until late May or early June. Let's get properly equipped and have safe winter and spring operations.

07 October 2008

Member Training - 1 hour TCT Refresher

Prudent sailors have exhibited and human factors researchers have described seven critical skills that reduce the potential for human error-induced mishaps. These skills are leadership, mission analysis, adaptability and flexibility, situational awareness, decision making, communication and assertiveness. Collectively, they are titled “Team Coordination.” Within these skills are important processes that serve to control safety risks and improve team performance. The processes are risk management, crew briefing and crew debriefing. TCT reinforces these processes and makes the student aware of both effective and ineffective behaviors. Diagnostic tools and corrective strategies are taught. Through discussion, case study, class exercise and/or role-play, students gain an understanding of these skills and how best to apply them. - COMMANDANT INSTRUCTION 1541.1

Prevention of mishaps is a key responsibility of everyone wearing Coast Guard blue. We cannot be Semper Paratus if our facilities are damaged or our people are injured. We cannot save lives when we become victims ourselves.
Every five years all operators are required to complete the full 8 hour team coordination training course and there is a recent requirement in the last few years to take a one hour refresher every year. Even if you do not participate in operations I encourage you to take advantage of the full TCT and the refresher on a regular basis. We have outstanding instructors for the full TCT and you'll learn skill that you will find useful in all aspects of your lives.
The TCT refresher will be offered on  18OCT08 at Sector Portland, 0830 and the uniform is ODUs.

06 October 2008

Flotilla meeting reminder - Wednesday evening 1900

We have a meeting on Wednesday 08OCT08 at 1900hrs at Sector Portland.

Just a reminder, please remember the gate rules.

1. If the gate guard is on duty you must stop and show your ID. Please no rolling stops.

2. When arriving or leaving the base any time the gate is unattended you must stop and allow the gate to close completely before you drive away. This applies to both arrival and departure from the base when there is no gate guard. The safety and security of our shipmates is our responsibility, leaving with the gate open and unattended puts the base at risk.

On departure if there is another car behind you it is permissible to clear the gate and depart the car to the rear must assure the gate closes.

If there is a car waiting to enter they must wait.

On entry you may never clear the gate for a vehicle behind you unless the gate reopens. Usually the gate will start to close and then reopen, you may then proceed.

05 October 2008

Winter Uniforms are Authorized

01 October brings in the season of winter uniforms which, for the most part, means the Winter Dress Blue is authorized.

The Winter Dress Blue uniform is my favorite uniform as it is both formal and traditional while being 100% Coast Guard blue.

For our newer members the Winter Dress Blue is similar to Tropical Blue Long but substitutes the CPO shirt (found here at the UDC , scroll to the bottom) for the light blue shirt and adds the USCG tie (found here at the UDC )

03 October 2008

USCG approach to new media in action

On Monday I suggested you check out iCommandat, ADM Allen's blog, to see how social media is going to be used to communicate about the Coast Guard.

On Wednesday, I read a post about the Deployable Operations Group (the DOG) and had a question about the presentation. I posted a comment/question to the blog:

Any chance we can get someone to explain the shift from "Qualify = Certify" to "Certify - Qualify - Train" as described on the third slide?

Thank you,
October 1, 2008 9:18 PM
On Thursday, I got a reply:
This is Admiral Allen trying the comment mode on this thread.
One of the fundamental changes we are trying to make with the DOG and FORCECOM is to make sure that we are prepared to execute the mission.

For years, and this goes back to when I was a CO afloat, we took time out of our normal operations to train. In my era it was REFTRA. The key concept now is that we need to move beyond "qualification equals certification to operate" to the notion that we certify basic entry level skills, insure we are qualified to operate and then create superior operational capability through training.

RDML Atkin is trying to start a new conversation regarding how we train, equip, and provide. It is a good conversation to have and I applaud what he has done.
October 2, 2008 3:59 PM:
This is so cool, and while we cannot expect the Commandant to respond to every question, we do have the opportunity participate in his thinking and help build a more effective Coast Guard.
What is the lesson? Dig into social media, start reading, start commenting, and start posting. 

01 October 2008


The D13 Auxiliary Blog has posted 3 dates for the AUX-10 C-School:

01/24/2009 in Alameda
03/20/2009 in Alameda
06/05/2009 CG Academy

The flotilla could really use another AUXDATA qualified member and this is the place to do it.

From the C-School Portal:

This program is designed to provide district, division and flotilla information systems personnel with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to exercise responsibility for all matters pertaining to the collection, recording, and forwarding of the flotilla’s AUXDATA information, and keep members informed of all developments in this area.  Report generation and creation of ad-hoc queries using AUXINFO will be reviewed using in-depth classroom hands on exercises.