30 April 2009

USCG Social Media Reading

This blog exists in a much larger context. The Coast Guard is exploring ways to use social media for communication within the service and to our partners and the public. The links from this post will help you understand the use of social media in the Coast Guard.

Note: This post will be updated as resources are added.

First, the Commandant's introduction to Social Media:

30 APR 2009: Wired's Danger Room: Coast Guard Commandant Hearts Social Media
Discusses the Commandant's use of social media.

26 APR 2009: Information Dissemination
Discusses the Navy and social media focusing on the fact that dealing with the blogging community and the mainstream media is not an either/or decision. In my professional life as a PR pro I find that an increasing number of my mainstream media audience is using the social web and that by effectively using a combination of traditional and social media tools I can reach them with less effort to greater effect. at the same time using social tools also makes me a publisher - I can go direct to my audience with the same set of messaging for no additional effort. It is truly a win-win-win.

20 APR 2009: Information Dissemination: Social Software and the National Security Discussion
An excellent post that introduced me to a paper by the National Defense University on social software and national  defense. The paper puts forth an interaction model that is very useful when trying to understand social media and the potential impacts of the tools.

The report includes a good summary of how social software can work for the military services.
The first function is Inward Sharing, or sharing information within agencies. This includes information sharing not only during military operations, but also within offices for budgets, human resources, contracting, social, and other purposes, and coordination between offices and other units of an agency.
The second function is Outward Sharing, or sharing internal agency information with entities beyond agency boundaries. Outward sharing includes coordination during the Federal interagency process; sharing information with government, law enforcement, medical emergency, and other relevant entities at state, local, and tribal levels; and collaboration with partners such as corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or super-empowered individuals (billionaires, international CEOs, etc.).
The third function is Inbound Sharing, which allows government to obtain input from citizens and other persons outside the government more easily. Inbound Sharing includes gauging public sentiment on issues in real time (not unlike instant polling), allows government to receive input on current topics of interest, empowers the public to vote or otherwise give weight to other people’s opinions to reach some consensus or equilibrium about online discussions about government issues, and provides a mechanism for crowdsourcing, which is effectively outsourcing projects to a group of people whose membership is not predefined (not unlike a contest or challenge).
The fourth function is Outbound Sharing, whose purpose is to communicate with and/or empower people outside the government. This includes a range of efforts such as focused use of information and communications technology (ICT) during stabilization and reconstruction missions, connecting persons in emergency or post-disaster situations, and communicating messages in foreign countries as part of public diplomacy efforts. It also includes functions like using multimedia and social media for better communication with citizens as part of public affairs.


This weekend is the Annual AUXAIR Training Weekend. Our own Gary Nepple is the AUXAIR operations officer and asked me to post two documents:

1) The agenda:

2) His presentation outline:

While you may not be active in AUXAIR it is often helpful to see what is occurring in other programs.

UPDATE Note: Uniform of the day for all on base activities will be flight suits or casual civilian. Saturday evening shirts & slacks. Sunday morning Casual Civilian or flight suits as appropriate.

29 April 2009

ALAUX: Non-Operational Facilities Category Eliminated -012/09

You likely received an ALAUX today announcing the elimination of the Non-Operational facility category and a change to the flying of the Auxiliary ensign on member facilities. There change has no impact on our Flotilla facilities as none are non-operational. It is a significant liberalization of the use of the Auxiliary ensign which may now be displayed on any members vessel as long as the vessel displays a current VSC sticker.

Previously the ensign could only be displayed on a facility (operational or non-operational). So if you have a vessel that is not an inspected operational facility get your annual VSC (which I hope you do as a matter of course) and start flying the Auxiliary ensign.

Please note this is the blue and white ensign, not the red, white and blue Auxiliary Patrol Ensign.

Subj: Non-Operational Facilities Category Eliminated -012/09

1. As a matter of information, NEXCOM and the National Bridge recently made final the decision to eliminate "non-operational facilities" from the categories of vessels in the Auxiliary. CG-5421 concurs with this action which is effective immediately.

2. The Auxiliary Ensign may now fly only on either inspected surface facilities that display a current facility decal or on vessels owned by Auxiliarists that have successfully completed a Vessel Safety Check and that display a current VSC decal.

3. Changes in regards to non-operational facilities to the Auxiliary Operations Policy Manual COMDTINST M16798.3(series) will be reflected in future editions of the manual.

4. The purpose of this list is to keep Auxiliarists as well as all other interested parties abreast of current developments, policies, manuals, etc. All information contained herein and linked is OFFICIAL policy and information.

5. Internet Release and Distribution is Authorized.

6. CG-542, sends

28 April 2009

Bravo Zulu: 76 Crew candidates and all the Division 7 crew and coxswain candidates passing QE today

Updated and bumped: The same BZ to Roger and Tim who passed QE on Sunday! Way to go everyone.

A big Bravo Zulu to Paul, Chris, Shaun, Gary, and Kip from 76 who passed QE today and have been recommended for qualification as boat crew. Good luck to Tim and Roger who go before the QEs on Sunday. This is the culmination of over three intense months of study, class work and practical on the water work. You've done very well. Now you have the opportunity to get out on the water in regular operations and start the journey from competency, to comfort and hopefully to mastery at some point in the future.

My conversations with the QEs were highly complementary of all the crew and coxswain candidates.

I cannot say enough about the quality of the program that Flotilla 73, under the leadership of Don Verkest, provides.  Don has developed an outstanding schedule -- the on-the-water exercises always seem to come at exactly the right time to cement the classroom learning. I've a particular appreciation for the academy this year having gone from a somewhat casual relationship as a crew mentor to a coxswain candidate. My skills would not be anywhere near what they are had I used the self-study method. The 73 Crew/Coxswain Academy is a model that should be emulated nation-wide.

Swine Flu Information from Tricare

The following comes from Tricare via the Sector Portland Logistics Department:

Swine Flu Facts 
Recently there have been a number of cases of swine flu reported in the media.  The Department of Defense as well as all segments of the US government is working along with our international partners to lessen the impact of swine flu. 

What is Swine Flu?
Swine flu is influenza that occurs in pigs.  People do not normally get swine flu but human infections can occur.  The most recent cases of swine flu appear to have the ability to be passed on from person to person and has resulted in a number of cases in the United States as well as wide spread disease in certain parts of Mexico.  It is likely that this swine flu will spread to many if not all parts of the United States. 

When people catch swine flu they may have a fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue just like the regular flu.  Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.  Previously, swine flus have also caused severe illness and death.  Like the regular flu people with chronic medical conditions are at risk for more severe illness. 

Contracting Swine Flu
Most people catch swine flu the same way you catch the regular flu.  You can catch swine flu by coming in contact with droplets from infected people after they sneeze or cough.  This can occur by being in the path of a sneeze or cough or touching something that has those droplets on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. 

There is a medicine to treat swine flu.  Both Tamiflu® and Relenza® are effective against the swine flu. You get these medicines from your doctor. If you have swine flu and need treatment, treatment should start within two days after you begin to feel sick. 

However, the best treatment is prevention.  There are a number of ways you can reduce the risk of catching swine flu for you and your family.
  • Avoid people with the flu.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol based hand cleaner.
  • Wash your hands before eating or touching your face, after touching surfaces that someone might have coughed or sneezed on, after going out into the community and after caring for someone who has the flu or touching something someone who is sick may have touched.
  • If someone in your household is sick stay home until that person no longer feels ill. 

If you are sick there a number of things you can do to reduce the chances of giving swine flu to others. 
  • If you are sick stay home from work or school.
  • Limit your contact with others.
  • Cough and sneeze into disposable tissues. Throw these tissues away into a plastic bag.  When removing the bad, try not to touch the dirty tissues.
  • Those with flu should use separate eating utensils that are washed in hot soapy water after each meal.
  • Don’t share objects like remote controls or pens.
  • Disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched like door knobs, remote controls, light switches and toilet handles.  An effective disinfectant can be made using ¼ cup of household bleach and 1 gallon of cold water.
  • If someone in your house is sick also stay at home.  Don’t go to work or school until they no longer feel sick.

If you think you have swine flu contact your health care provider.  They will be able to determine if you need testing or treatment.  If you experience any of the following warning signs seek emergency medical care right away.
      For Children:
  • Fast breathing or having difficulty to breathe
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids and not urinating as often
  • Not waking up or being able to interact with others
  • Being so irritable that they do not want to be held
  • Flu symptoms that improve but then return with a worse cough and fever
  • Fever with a rash
          For adults
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu symptoms that improve but then return with a worse cough and fever

Untucked Operational Dress Uniform (ODU) update

The USCG Uniform Distribution Center reports:
New Untucked Operational Dress Uniform (ODU) - We are now accepting regular orders for the new Untucked ODUs for active duty Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve personnel only. All outstanding pre-orders will be given precedence and will be filled as stock becomes available. The Uniform Program plans to open up sales to Auxiliary members in the near future. Your continued patience is appreciated.
So it looks like we'll be seeing the new ODU soon. Please do not attempt to order the untucked ODU until the UDC announces Auxiliary availability. The UDC does a great job and I'm sure they are working hard to prepare stock for us.

23 April 2009


Here is the official clarification on unit ball caps - as I indicated at our last meeting we are to wear Auxiliary caps while on patrol. Please comply if you are not already doing so. If you need any assistance please let me know. I fully understand the wearing of our unit ball caps is a point of pride, one I share. Please continue to wear your Sector cap aboard Sector Portland and to fellowship events if you desire to do so. 

Remember, it does not matter what cap you are wearing... you are a Guardian.

- Daren

To:    ALAUX

1.  ALAUX 33/08 of 10 November 2008 dealt with several Auxiliary uniform matters.  One of these involved the wear of ball caps, specifically Coast Guard unit ball caps.  Section 1.C.2. stated:

   "If an Auxiliarist is authorized to wear a Coast Guard unit ball cap, such wear shall not extend to activities involving public interaction.  This is to ensure that an Auxiliarist is not mistaken by the public as an active member of a Coast Guard unit with commensurate authority.  For example, an Auxiliarist may not wear a Coast Guard unit ball cap when performing VSCs."

2.  Questions have arisen as to whether or not the conduct of Auxiliary patrols (e.g. - surface patrols on vessel facilities) constitutes "...involving public interaction."  The short answer is "Yes, Auxiliary patrols involve public interaction."  As further clarification, the following involve public interaction:

   a.  Performance of Vessel Examiner (VE) activities involving Vessel Safety Checks (VSC) and Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Exams (CFVSE).
   b.  Performance of Program Visitor (PV) activities.
   c.  Performance of Instructor (IT) activities.
   d.  Performance of patrol activities (surface, air, shoreside including missions involving mobile radio facilities).
   e.  Performance of Marine Safety, Security, and Environmental Protection
       (MSSEP) activities.
   f.  Performance of public outreach, public affairs, and recruiting activities.

3.  Situations in which a Coast Guard unit ball cap may be worn, if authorized, include:

   a.  Wear of the cap to, at, and from the unit in the course of providing the direct support for which it is      authorized (appropriate for commuting, stops for gas, and drive-thru services).
   b.  Wear of the cap to, at, and from flotilla meetings (appropriate for commuting, stops for gas, and drive-thru        services).
   c.  Wear of the cap to, at, and from flotilla fellowship events (appropriate for commuting, stops for gas, and drive-thru services).

4.  If there is any doubt about the propriety of wearing a Coast Guard unit ball cap due to potential interaction with the public, then the Auxiliary ball cap shall be worn.

5.  These guidelines will be included in the next change to the Auxiliary Manual.

6.  The purpose of this list is to keep Auxiliarists as well as all other interested parties abreast of current developments, policies, manuals, etc. All information contained herein and linked is OFFICIAL policy and information.

7.  Internet Release and Distribution is Authorized.

8.  CG-542, sends

22 April 2009

Commandant's statement to the DHS Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee

The Commandant spoke to a subcommittee of the House today and has released the statement he made.

I confess to being a policy wonk, but I'll continue to post documents that provide a broad overview of our service's current challenges, recent successes and future direction. It may seem a long way from your day-to-day service but we can serve more effectively when there is a strong understanding of the larger issues impacting the USCG.

20 April 2009


When you find yourselves with a little time on your hands I recommend downloading and reviewing the U.S. COAST GUARD ADDENDUM TO THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL SEARCH AND RESCUE SUPPLEMENT (NSS) TO THE INTERNATIONAL AERONAUTICAL AND MARITIME SEARCH AND RESCUE MANUAL (IAMSAR) [11mb]. A long title for a very long manual but well worth at least a scan if you are interested in SAR as a surface operator, an air operator or a communicator. Our surface coxswains are familiar with Chapter 4 which discusses the come-upon policy but the manual offers a great deal more.

Beyond the practical material for executing search and rescue on an air, surface or land asset the manual will give you a much greater appreciation for what our shipmates in the concrete box of the Command Center are doing. Enjoy.

I Mission and Purpose
II Risk Management
III SAR Functions & Hierarchy
IV Statutory Authority & Responsibility
V SAR Publications
VI SAR Program Objectives, Goals, Standards and Requirements
VII SAR Program Focus
VIII SAR System Infrastructure
IX Terms Within the Addendum
X Applicability and Obligation
1.1 Search and Rescue (SAR) Organization
1.2 SAR Coordination
1.3 Professional Requirements
1.4 Public Affairs & Next of Kin Interactions
1.5 Liaison and Contingency Exercises
1.6 Agreements
2.0 Introduction to Communications
2.1 Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
2.2 Digital Selective Calling (DSC)
2.3 SafetyNET Messaging
2.4 Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) Numbers
2.5 National Distress and Response System (NDRS) & Rescue 21
2.6 Urgent Marine Information Broadcasts (UMIBs)
2.7 Cellular Telephones and *CG
2.8 Electronic Mail
2.9 Lost Communications with a Coast Guard Asset
2.10 Recorded Radio Transmissions and Telephone Lines
2.11 Ship Security Alert Systems
3.1 SAR Planning and Operations Overview
3.2 Search Planning Methods and Tools
3.3 Search Planning Variables
3.4 Initial Response, Search Planning and Search Operations
3.5 Rescue Planning and Operations
3.6 Measures of Search Effectiveness
3.7 Aspects of Survival
3.8 Conclusion of SAR Operations
3.9 Case Documentation
4.1 Maritime SAR Assistance Policy (MSAP)
4.2 Forcible Evacuations of vessels
4.3 General Salvage Policy (Other than Towing)
4.4 Firefighting Activities Policy
4.5 Direction and Navigational Assistance for Mariners
4.6 SAR Cost Recovery and Reimbursement
4.7 Emergency Medical Assistance
4.8 Justification for Non-Maritime EMS Response
4.9 Ice Rescues
4.10 Float Plans
4.11 Self-Locating Datum Marker Buoys
4.12 SAR and Security Concerns
4.13 Maritime Law Enforcement and Vessel Safety
4.14 Places of Refuge
4.15 Persons Falling or Jumping from Bridges
5.1 Operations Overview
5.2 Surface Craft Operations
5.3 Coast Guard Boats
5.4 Coast Guard Cutters
5.5 Aids to Navigation (ATON) Vessels
5.6 Aircraft
5.7 Crew Fatigue
5.8 Rescue Swimmers
5.9 Passive Watchstanding
6.1 Underwater Incidents Overview
6.2 Submersibles
6.3 Persons Trapped in Capsized Vessels
6.4 Underwater Acoustic Beacons (Pingers)
6.5 Action Required for Underwater SAR Preparation
6.6 Scuba Diving Incidents
Appendix A Command SAR Library
Appendix B MISLE
B.1 MISLE System
B.2 Reporting Criteria
B.3 Responsibility
B.4 Action
B.5 General Data Entry Guidelines
B.6 Data Retrieval
Appendix C Standard CG SAR Messages
C.1 Situation Report (SITREP)
C.2 Search Action Plan (SAP)
C.3 Sample DSC False Alert Message Format
C.4 SafetyNET Examples
Appendix D MEDEVAC Report (CG-5214)
Appendix E Emergency Medical Services Agreement
Appendix F SAR Contingency Exercises
F.1 Introduction
F.2 Identifying Maritime Contingency Response Communities
F.3 Developing Maritime Contingency Response Plans
F.4 Exercising Maritime Contingency Response Plans
F.5 Requesting Support for Maritime Contingency Response Plan Exercises
Appendix G SAR Checksheets
Initial SAR Checksheet
Supplemental SAR Checksheet
Overdue Checksheet
Grounding Checksheet
Flare Sighting Checksheet
Aircraft Emergencies
Abandoned or Adrift
Beset by Weather
Uncorrelated MAYDAY, MAYDAY, probable hoax calls, automated S.O.S.
Taking on Water or Fire
SAR Case Suspension Checklist
Mass Rescue Operation Supplemental Checksheet
Appendix H Search Planning Handbook
H.1 Search Planning
H.2 Manual Solution Model
H.3 Datum Estimation
H.4 Search Area
H.5 Search Plan Variables
H.6 Search Area and SRU Assignment
H.7 Search Pattern Selection
H.8 Search Action Plans
H.9 Manual Solution Worksheets
Appendix I Flare Incidents
I.1 Flare Incidents
I.2 Definitions
I.3 Obtaining Sighting Data
I.4 Estimating Distances
I.5 Determining a Datum Area
I.6 Mission Conclusion
Appendix J Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) Registration Form
Appendix K Bibliography
Appendix L *CG Agreement
AppendixM COMSAT-C Web Interface
M.1 Launching the Web service interface
M.2 SafetyNET Message Procedures
M.3 Shore to Ship Distress Alerts
M.4 Search and Rescue Messages
M.5 Navigational Warning Messages
M.6 Compose Message
M.7 Delivery Status
M.8 Read Mail
M.9 Monitoring Messages
M.10 Canceling Messages
M.11 Sending a cancel notification
M.12 User Profile
M.13 Error Messages
M.14 Back-up System
Appendix N SAR Controller Personnel Qualification Standard (PQS)

Lead like a Guardian: RADM Branham's Commander ’s Emphasis and Philosophy

Last week on his All Hands blog MCPOCG Bowen posted the text of a pamphlet that RADM Branham is distributing in the 7th Coast Guard District.

The pamphlet contains the Creed and the Guardian Ethos but also adds RADM Branham's emphasis and philosophy. This document speaks not only to being a Guardian but also how to lead like a Guardian.

Commander ’s Emphasis and Philosophy

We are America’s maritime guardian!
We protect our citizens, rescue them from
harm’s way, defend their freedom and
protect our maritime environment.
Semper Paratus is our guide.

Relentlessly pursue mission excellence
Ensure you and your personnel are well trained,
properly equipped, focused and ready to perform all missions.

Push the throttles forward
Be aggressive, proactive and innovative. Seize opportunities.
Seek new solutions. Weigh risks. Never give up!

Be a guardian to our people
Know them, their families and their issues.
Be visible and accessible to them.

Make teamwork our hallmark
Cultivate international, interagency and joint partnerships.

Tell our story
Raise the Coast Guard’s visibility to the public
through the media, friends of the Coast Guard
and other stakeholders.
Each of these messages is important. No matter what role you fill in the Coast Guard you've likely seen each done well and done poorly. Shipmates, let's take up this challenge to lead like a Guardians and please demand the type of leadership called for by RADM Branham from me.

Thank you RADM Branham.

Around the District for March 2009

Don't miss the latest edition of Around the District for March 2009 from District 13 Public Affairs.

Do you like what you see? Drop by the D13 blog and leave a comment.

12 April 2009

From the Sector Deputy: Operations Tempo and Safety

Captain (Select) Proctor gave a moving speech at last Monday's Division 7 meeting on the occasion of his final meeting as the liaison to the Auxiliary at Sector Portland. He told a very moving personal story about his first real encounter with the Auxiliary as a young LTJG at Group Philadelphia and how the experience had cemented his commitment to actively engaging with the Auxiliary at every opportunity during his career. I hope to have the opportunity to record his comments and share them here before he departs for D.C. in June, it is a story very much worth sharing.

Captain (Select) Proctor has been a tireless advocate of the Auxiliary and his efforts while Deputy Commander at Sector Portland have had an enormously positive impact on our effectiveness as a Division. During my six years as an Auxiliarist we have always had great command support but Russ, by his personal involvement and commitment, raised the game to a whole new level.

His final message was the same as his first when he arrived in Portland. Be safe and stand ready to assure the safety of our shipmates. As we enter the busy summer period -- on the water, on the ramps, in the air and at public events -- we can honor Captain Proctor's commitment to us by keeping the safety of ourselves and our shipmates foremost in our minds. Practice operational risk management and TCT as you operate this summer.

Captain Proctor, thank you for your service and friendship. We wish you a successful tour at Headquarters. Please remember that you and your family will always be most welcome here in Portland.

Photo: Jo Gullixson (76's SPAR) and Captain (Select) Proctor 

iCommandant 200th post

ADM Allen posted the 200th post on his iCommandant blog today. The Commandant launched the blog on 29SEP2009 and, at an average of a post per day, I've found the blog has greatly increased my understanding of our service and the Commandant's vision of our future. The 200th post looks back at the Coast Guard's progress in the blogosphere and lists the official and unofficial blogs ADM Allen reads. It is a great list of resources for Guardians -- covering our service, our sister services, the maritime industry, homeland security and national defense issues, and leadership. On the unofficial list I follow most of the blogs ADM Allen lists and will be checking out the few I've missed.

You'll see that #11 the Official Blogroll is the blog of a certain Flotilla in Portland, Oregon. If you've been waiting for a good reason to start contributing to our Flotilla blog now you've got one.... the boss is reading.

A big Bravo Zulu to Paul, Tara and the rest of the team at the Official D13 Blog for taking such a leadership role in social media.

Likewise to Ben and crew at AMVER who are also my favorite Twitter feed (@Amver).

Thank you also to my fellow Spirti of 76 Bloggers, Paul Ploeger and Todd Mains (of FL73).

Thank you for your service,

04 April 2009

Admiral Allen's letter to the family of our fallen shipmate Jerry Avant

I've encouraged you to read the Commandant's blog regularly. It is an excellent way to get a sense of where our service is headed, the challenges we face, and how we can contribute to the mission.

Last Sunday in Carthage, NC Jerry Avant, LPN was killed while protecting the lives of his patients from a gunman. Jerry was a shipmate, a former avionics technician with almost ten years of service. Please take a few minutes to read Admiral Allen's letter to the Avant family.

Jerry was a guardian in every sense of the word. Please keep Jerry and his family in your thoughts as your serve.



As of today, 04 Apr 09, I have made some corrections to the posting below. Please let me know if you have any questions.


01 April 2009



Any member wanting to get their AUXOP certification is still able to use the AUXCOM as one of the elements. They can download the study guide and then take a proctored test. AUXCOM no longer qualifies you to become a radio facility.

Any member who is interested in becoming a radio facility will now have to pass the Auxiliary Telecommunications Qualification Standard or TC-PQS. The standard is similar to the crew and coxswain qualification standards, it requires you complete tasks and have them signed off by a qualified mentor. Once you have worked through the PQS and completed the sign offs, you will need to go before an authorized mentor. The authorized mentor will ask questions about the items in the PQS and you may be asked to demonstrate what you have learned. After you complete the session, the authorized mentor will sign off your PQS and send it to the DSO-CM. If you are interested in this program, you can find the course at: and most of the supporting manuals are located on this site. Let me know if you have an interest in become a radio facility.

Although the TC-PQS is recommended, any member who was AUXCOM qualified as of 31 Aug 08 is grandfathered in and can become a radio facility without going through the PQS.

Let me know if you have any questions. As always, I will update this information as I receive more.

Paul Ploeger

Coast Guard in Alaska