30 October 2009

Loss of CG-1705 and a Marine Corps AH-1 Cobra

Shipmates, By now you have likely seen the message traffic related to the collision of CG-1705, one of our  C-130s, and a Marine Corps helicopter. Please keep the crew of CG-1705, the crew of the Marine helicopter and their families in your thoughts. Our people, Guardians and Marines, go into harms way every day in service of our country to protect us, save lives and preserve our liberty. All of them, no matter where in the world they serve, are in my thoughts tonight.

Please be safe in all your activities and look to the safety of your shipmates.

From: Allen, Thad Admiral
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2009 1:50 PM
Subject: ALL HANDS - Loss of Coast Guard C-130 and Marine Corps Helicopter
To the Men and Women of the United States Coast Guard:
I am deeply saddened to report that one of our C-130 aircraft, CG-1705 out of AIRSTA Sacramento, crashed last night about 15 miles east of San Clemente Island off the coast of San Diego. CG-1705, with seven Guardians onboard, was searching for an overdue 12-foot pleasure craft when there was a collision with a Marine Corps AH-1 Cobra helicopter at 1915 Pacific local time. There were two personnel on the Marine Corps helicopter which was conducting a separate training exercise.
The Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy have been working collaboratively overnight and throughout today in response to this tragedy. I want to ensure our workforce is kept fully apprised as well.
We have been and continue to actively search for survivors. Two Navy surface vessels were on scene almost immediately after the accident. Several Navy and Coast Guard aircraft, along with a Customs and Border Patrol helicopter, are flying sorties in the area while multiple cutters including the BLACKFIN, BLACKTIP, EDISTO, PETREL, GEORGE COBB, and JARVIS are conducting surface searches. One of the Navy ships is remaining on-scene as well. No personnel have been found at this time but we will continue to work with our Marine Corps and Navy partners in this massive effort.
While we continue the search, we will fully support the men and women of AIRSTA Sacramento and their families. We are actively assisting the local field units to respond to this tragic event so they can focus on the ongoing search. This includes flowing resources and critical incident stress management teams where they are needed, supporting our fellow families and Service members, coordinating a joint military investigation, and working with our Department, the interagency, the Congress, and the media to keep people informed.
I know many of you want to know the names of the people who are missing. We are following the appropriate notification procedures and working closely with our sister Services and the impacted families to ensure the proper steps are followed. We will release that information as soon as possible.
I will provide further updates as they become available. I encourage all Coast Guard members to keep these missing Guardians and Marines in your thoughts during this difficult time and to continue looking after your shipmates.
Admiral Thad Allen
Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard

27 October 2009

Operations Safety: Ejections from boats - an update

Shipmates, The following appeared on MCPOCG Bowen's blog and, as we posted the initial message on boat ejections from Captain Harrop, I wanted to also post the follow-up message.
To all those who operate our boats:
On 12 June, I issued the attached Cause for Action and sought help distributing it to every coxswain in the Coast Guard. I was pleased with how many people helped in this effort. While I know not everyone has seen it, I do believe many have. It is still being used at BM school and at the Boat Force Command Cadre course and other schools and venues. It has been circulated widely throughout the Auxiliary and even in the Canadian Auxiliary. But more importantly, I want to thank every coxswain who has gotten a Coast Guard boat underway during the past 3 months.
The last ejection from a Coast Guard boat occurred on 22 July, exactly three months ago. Our coxswains have safely operated their boats for 90 straight days without throwing anyone out. They have logged over 170,000 hours of safe and effective boat operations in support of all Coast Guard missions. That is impressive. Next time you see one, please pass on my heartfelt thanks for a job done well. Bravo Zulu! Thanks.
Now is not the time to let our guard down. Please continue to encourage our coxswains to be vigilant. The Office of Boat Forces goal is to complete 2010 without a single boat ejection. Coast Guard coxswains operate in a very dangerous environment and we must do everything in our power to ensure they are enabled to bring their crews back safely. Please continue to do your part.
Sincerely, Capt Ted Harrop

Chief, Office of Boat Forces.

PS: To those who oversee or manage others who operate boats, I also thank you for your help and request you pass this along to those who do operate boats for you.

Captain Harrop is reporting good progress. I'd encourage all of our Coxswains and Crew to remain vigilant and watch out for each other. As a reminder here are a few strategies to manage the risk of ejection:
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate - Call and get a response to wakes, maneuvering, changes in speed, going out of the cockpit or going forward, etc.
  • Slow down: Operate at prudent speed for the conditions, situation and the capabilities of the vessel
  • Remind your crew to hold on and if possible sit down - seated is almost always better when at higher speeds
  • Keep crew off the bow except when operating at low speeds and only then when operationally required
  • Assure PPE is properly donned at all times including all buckles and zippers
  • When you find yourself loosing your balance or see a shipmate doing so bring it to everyones attention - this is an indicator that action needs to be taken

25 October 2009

Required reading: Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowing

Our fellow Guardian, Mario Vittone, has an article on gCaptain about how drowning can be a deceptively quiet event.  Please read the article - we will be incorporating this as a training topic.

To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening(source: CDC).

24 October 2009

Qualifications: Public Affairs Specialist I & II and Coast Guard Public Affairs Support Specialist

We are all Public Affairs specialists in the Auxiliary. Each of us, in the course of our duties, interacts with the public and represents the Auxiliary and the Coast Guard. We rely on the skills we've picked up over the years to make these interactions successful. Few of us have any formal PA/PR training or significant PA/PR business experience. Over the last few years the Auxiliary leadership has recognized the need to provide training for, and formal recognition of, our public affairs specialists.

There are three levels of Auxiliary Public Affairs Specialist (+1 since we are all PA)
  • Auxiliary Public Affairs Specialist
  • Auxiliary Public Affairs Specialist II
  • Coast Guard Public Affairs Support Specialist
Auxiliary Public Affairs Specialist (I)
There are two tracks to gain recognition as a PA Specialist (I).

1) Take the Auxiliary C-School AUX-12. [Definition: C-Schools are resident classes of 2-4 days with travel, food and lodging provided by the Coast Guard]  The current C-School schedule can be found here:

For 2010 these classes will be held in:
  • CGAS Clearwater - February
  • CGAS Mobile - March
  • CG Yard-Baltimore - April
  • ISC Alameda - June 
2) Use the self-study method with online courses through followed by an oral board. Full details of this approach can be found at There are four Auxiliary classes and you must also take ICS-100 through FEMA. The Auxiliary classes are:
  • Introduction to Coast Guard Auxiliary Public Affairs (AUX-20)
  • Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist 2nd Class (AUX-22)
  • Journalism Basic (AUX-24)
  • Introduction to Digital Photography (AUX-26)
Links to these classes can be found on the National Testing Center website (you will need to create and account to take the classes):

For ICS-100a see this post:

There is a study guide and a Personnel Qualifications Standard (PQS) for the PA Specialist qualification [Definition: A PQS is a manual which lays out the requirements for a qualification and tracks mentoring and your progress - this is the standard Coast Guard approach to qualifications and is being increasingly adopted by the Auxiliary for our qualifications]

Beyond PA(I)
Once you have completed the Auxiliary Public Affairs Specialist qualification you may pursue the Auxiliary Public Affairs Specialist II qualification followed by the Coast Guard Public Affairs Support Specialist qualification. These are also detailed at

These are great programs and I encourage you to consider pursing the first, or all of the qualifications. Attendance at AUX-12 would be particularly useful as this prepares you to participate as a mentor and oral board member for future members seeking the qualification.

22 October 2009

District Store in our own backyard

The District Staff Officer - Materials, Matt Epstein, is a member of Flotilla 78 and maintains the District store here locally.
My inventory includes garrison hats, shoulder boards, most of the ribbons, medals, D13 logo shirts, patrol signs, patrol & Aux ensigns, various metal insignia, the new black A sew-on insignia for ODU's, and various other items. You can include this link to the D13 Store on the web that includes info on how to contact me to order.
Matt's contact information is on the D13 site and in our directory. Matt is often willing, with some reasonable notice, to bring materials to the Division meetings.

21 October 2009

Oregon State Marine Board post-season Law Enforcement Conference

Many of our Oregon law enforcement recreational boating safety partners were recognized by the Oregon State Marine Board last week.
The Oregon State Marine Board recognized marine law enforcement officers from around the state for their outstanding performance and contributions during the 2009 boating season at their annual post-season conference on October 13, in Bend.
The day-to-day efforts and outstanding heroism of the Officers, Deputies and OSP Troopers recognized comes as no surprise to those of us who work with them on the ramps and the waterways of Oregon.

Bravo zulu to those recognized and all our Oregon and Washington LE partners.

Press releases describing the contributions and awards, by county, can be found here:

15 October 2009

Naval Vessel Protection Zone PSA

Our shipmates in D13 Public Affairs have prepared a public service announcement on Naval Vessel Protection Zones.

If the video does not display please see this YouTube link.

14 October 2009

The ready wall

We are heading into winter operations and I thought it would be a great time to show you my "Ready Wall", the place I keep my operational gear for ease of access and readiness for any callouts.

(Please visit the post or YouTube if the video does not display)

11 October 2009

Thank you and Division staff solicitation for 2010

I’m deeply honored to have been elected as the Division Commander for 2010. Thank you to the board for the vote of confidence and to all of my shipmates who have proffered congratulations and offers of support.

Carol and I are fortunate to lead at a time when we have been experiencing growth in our membership, growth in our capability, and record levels of mission execution. Your Flotilla and Division leadership and your personal dedication to duty has created outstanding momentum for our Flotillas and the Division. The most important contribution we can make to our future success is keeping this momentum. In the remaining weeks ahead of the holidays I’d ask that you:

  • Support our current leadership in meeting our 2009 goals
  • Continue to focus on recruiting followed by mentoring of our new members  
  • Seek out one or two additional opportunities educate our fellow boaters about the risks of boating in Oregon and Washington – it is a great time of year to talk about cold water and life jackets 
  • Consider an elected role in your Flotilla for 2010
  • Consider a staff role in your Flotilla or a staff role in the Division for 2010

On this final point, one of the most critical duties of a Division leadership team is the selection of the Division staff. It is the responsibility of the Division leadership to select the best possible candidates and persuade them to serve as Division Staff Officers, on Division committees, and as project leads on special projects. To that end I invite each of you, not already serving as a Division staff officer, to put yourself forward for any Division staff role that ignites your passion. If you submit your name please include the following:

  • The office(s) where you think you could make an exceptional contribution
  • Past Division and Flotilla staff and leadership roles
  • Coast Guard qualifications relevant to the staff role and past activity relevant to the role
  • Outside relevant experience
  • A brief statement as to why you are interested, your vision for the position, and a few specific actions you would take to pursue that vision
We are looking for members with the ability to manage a program, not simply execute the mission – at the Division level the staff role needs to be focused on enabling participation and capability rather than individual execution. We are also looking for members who are interested in assisting the Division staff in particular roles or assisting the Division leadership with projects.

Thank you for considering a staff role, for your dedication to duty and for your service,

08 October 2009

Reminder: Leadership Training Saturday 10OCT2009

(Embedded Video: Visit the post to see the video if you receive this via email)

I encourage all 76 members to attend the leadership training on Saturday, 10 OCT 2009 at 0830 on the training deck at Sector Portland. Ken Babick will be instructing. The uniform is Tropical Blue or Winter Dress Blue. Hope to see you there!

07 October 2009

Commandant’s Auxiliary Letter of Commendation: Peter T. Kirschner

At the Division meeting on Monday our shipmate from FL73, Peter T. Kirschner, was awarded the Commandant’s Auxiliary Letter of Commendation. Peter tirelessly provided support to hundreds of Auxiliarists individually, the Auxiliary as a whole, and our Active Duty commands and partners. Without this kind of work we simply could not operate. We would have no qualifications, no awards, no way of contacting our members, no ability to accept facilities for use or cut orders.

Personally I'm honored to have Peter as a friend and mentor. Peter personifies Respect, Honor and Devotion to Duty.

Bravo Zulu Peter!

17 September 2009
From: Commandant
To: Peter T. Kirschner, USCG Auxiliary
I note with pride and am pleased to commend you for your performance of duty while assigned as District Staff Officer Information Systems, Thirteenth Coast Guard District from January 1999 to January 2009. This time period was one of exceptional significance to the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary as the country responded to the post September 11th tragedy with its significant increase in volunteerism. With so many new members, the Auxiliary recognized that it needed to transition from its basic Auxiliary Management Information System (AUXMIS) to more sophisticated packages for member tracking and reporting called Auxiliary Data and Auxiliary Info. These new programs accommodate both the sharp increase in membership volume but offered an affiliated upgrade in capability tracking. During this period of technological and philosophical change you demonstrated savvy professionalism and competence in quickly mastering and implementing these new data and member management systems. In this enhanced role, you provided accurate record keeping of member’s performance and qualifications as needed. Further, you trained hundreds of other Auxiliarists on the new systems while still providing services for several Auxiliary Directors, multiple Commodores and thousands of Auxiliarists over the years. While you were the regional Information Systems Officer, you simultaneously held another position on the Auxiliary National Staff thereby ensuring that the Thirteenth District’s technological needs were on the forefront of the nationwide technological evolution. Your reputation, skill, patience and your enthusiastic “can-do” attitude helped insure the accuracy, relevance and importance of Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel records. These records, typically the only measure to account for the Auxiliary’s Herculean efforts, today identify, account and segment nearly $100 million in annual professional volunteer hours.
You are commended for your outstanding performance of duty. By your meritorious service you have upheld the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
You are hereby authorized to wear the Commandant’s Auxiliary Letter of Commendation Ribbon Bar.

For the Commandant,
Commander, U. S. Coast Guard
DIRAUX, Thirteenth Coast Guard District

Division 7 Meeting Report: October 2009

It was great to see so many members of the Flotilla in attendance on Monday. The 12 members (+3 soon to be 76 members) exceeded the total size of the Flotilla a few short years ago -- today we find ourselves at 58 members with a number of new applicants in the pipeline. Bravo Zulu!

The Director and District Commodore were in attendance. The Director briefly discussed the budget and reminded us that we've got to make the most of the available funds, particularly for PPE. As I've discussed previously we need to use every available dollar and piece of equipment wisely to maximize mission execution and program participation. In plain language this means doing our missions and adding the capability through exercises, training and stewardship to do more.

Elections were held and I'm honored to have been elected to serve as the Division Commander for 2010 along with my friend Carol Bobo as Vice Division Commander -- more on our plans in coming posts but I ask that we focus on finishing strong in 2009.

A number of awards were presented. The Division won for the highest number of Vessel Exams in the District, Peter Kirshner received an Auxiliary Commandant's Letter of Commendation (accepted by FC73 Don Verkest), and Ken Babick received the first place award for Direct Support: Operations for D13.

We will be participating in the Veteran's Day Parade in Vancouver on 07NOV2009. John Hillbrands, FC78, is coordinating the participation. Please contact him if you would like to take part in this outstanding event.

To date the Division has completed 1467 Vessel Exams in 2009. With our new crop of Examiners in 76 I hope to see this number grow and I hope to substantially exceed this figure in 2010.

Thank you to the membership of Rose City Yacht Club and RCYC Commodore (and Auxiliarist) Karl Quade for the use of their beautiful facility while the parking at Sector Portland was being repaved.

01 October 2009

Making it count: the art of reporting your time

Almost everything you do as an Auxiliarist in support of the Coast Guard is reportable - and it is worth reporting for a number of reasons:

  1. Your time counts towards a variety of personal and unit awards.
  2. We make the case for the value of Auxiliary programs based on the time and mission accomplishment reported. Time really does equal money in many cases.
  3. The Coast Guard has certain mandated missions and by reporting time and accomplishment on these missions we help meet these requirements.
  4. Your reporting helps the Coast Guard and Auxiliary leadership plan for, and meet, the need for training and equipment for the Auxiliary.
Here is my cheat sheet on which form to use, it isn't comprehensive but it should get you started and lead you in the right direction for the cases not addressed. I'll discuss how to use these forms in future posts. Each form has instructions.

Missions with unique forms:

Vessel exams or a facility inspection?
  • Mission time: Record the time on a 7038 Vessel Examination Activity Report
  • Travel and preparation time: Report on your 7029 Member Activity Log
Recreational boating safety visit?
  • Mission time: Record the time on a 7046 RBS Visitation Report
  • Travel and preparation time: Report on your 7029 Member Activity Log
Some specified Auxiliary workshops
  • Class time: In the case of 18 specified Auxiliary workshops the instructor will circulate a  7039 Workshop Mission & Attendance Report
  • Travel and preparation time: Report on your 7029 Member Activity Log
Note: While there is a 7054 Aids to Navigation, report which is used in the AN chain, you still need to submit a 7030 for hours.

Everything else:

Most other activities are reported on either a 7030 Mission Activity Report or a 7029 Member Activity Log. Figuring out which of these form to use and how to use it can be challenging.

In general the 7030 is used for missions and the 7029 logs time for preparation, travel, and individual study. The concept of missions in this context is broad and there are over 80 different mission codes which can be used on a 7030. Luckily most of these are not relevant to the majority of us and new members need even fewer because of the "crew" concept of the 7030.

What do I mean by "crew" concept? When a 7030 is filed for a mission with multiple participants (or crew) it is filed by the lead on the mission. This is best illustrated by a surface facility (e.g. boat patrol) mission where the 7030 is prepared by the Coxswain as the mission lead. As a crew member you only need to report your preparation and travel time (on your 7029). Your Coxswain should send you a copy of the 7030 for the mission so you have it for your records -- if you don't get one ask for it.

What other kinds of missions are covered by the 7030?
  • Any operational mission
  • Augmenting at Sector
  • Checking Aids to Navigation
  • Public Affairs watch standing and many other PA activities (websites, newsletters, etc.)
  • Member training (as the instructor only)
  • ... and many more - the 7030 form has both a summary and a detailed list
The downside of a 7030 is that you can only report one day of continuous activity. If you do the same mission day after day (or broken into multiple segments in a single day) as an individual it can be tedious to create a form for each. Our Flotilla has a policy to simplify this reporting for missions done as an individual on an ongoing basis. Rather than submitting a 7030 you may send an email in the following format to the FSO-IS:
[Last Name], [First Name]
[Member number]
[Activity 1 Date in DDMMMYYYY format], [Start Time in 24hr format] - [End Time], [Mission code], [Hours rounded] hrs
[Activity 2 Date], [Start Time in 24hr format] - [End Time], [Mission code], [Hours rounded] hrs
[Activity 3 Date] ...
For example:
Lewis, Daren
30SEP2009, 1430-1515, 10D, 0.75hrs
01OCT2009, 1733-1920, 10D, 1.75hrs
... which reports two days of website maintenance.
If your time is not covered by the 7030 mission codes it is reported on the 7029 Member Activity Log. Examples include:
  • Attending, preparation and travel to/from Flotilla meetings
  • Attending, preparation and travel to/from member training not covered by the 7039 Workshop Mission & Attendance Report including classroom portions of the crew academy but not the underway portions of the academy where you are logged as a member of the crew of the facility and thus on the Coxswains 7030.
  • Preparation and travel to/from member training covered by the 7039 Workshop Mission & Attendance Report (see the pattern, your travel almost always goes on the 7029)
  • Completing ICS courses at home
  • Any self study at home
  • Preparing uniforms
If you have any questions please let me, your mentor or any one of our long serving members know. This is a complex topic and I'm sure this article would benefit from your questions.