Civic Leaders Hit the Water With
Visit to Coast Guard in Yorktown
By Terri Lukach
Officer 3rd Class Josh Sutherland, right, from Coast Guard
Training Center, Yorktown, Va., instructs Bryan Neel, participant
in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference on how to manuever
the 41-foot utility boat he is driving. JCOC is a weeklong,
multiservice orientation program, hosted by the secretary
of defense, for civilian public opinion leaders to get a
better knowledge of national defense issues.
by Scott Reed / DoD Photo
TRAINING CENTER YORKTOWN, Virginia – A group of civic leaders
touring stateside military bases paid a visit here April 29 to
learn firsthand about the U.S. Coast Guard and its mission.
the Coast Guard’s core competencies and missions were on display
for participants in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference.
The sheer variety and efficiency of what the Coast Guard does
every day was a surprise to many of the participants.
thought of the Coast Guard as just a lifesaving service,"
JCOC participant Dawn Bannwolf said. "I had no idea they
had so many important missions."
Guard is the oldest continuous seagoing service in the United
States — and the smallest. At one quarter the size of the U.S.
Navy, it is about the same size as the New York City Police Department.
Guard was first proposed in Federalist Paper No. 12 and established
by Alexander Hamilton in 1790 to prevent smuggling on the high
seas and ensure the collection of tariffs. Since that time, the
Coast Guard has had three different homes, first in the Treasury
Department and later in the Transportation Department. In 2003,
it was transferred in its entirety to the Department of Homeland
Security, where it now comprises 25 percent of the new department.
JCOC is a
weeklong, multiservice orientation program for civilian public-opinion
leaders. Throughout the day of demonstrations here for the program’s
participants, real-life scenarios were played out, just as they
occur in ports and waterways around the country, for the benefit
of the JCOC participants. The simulations employed many of the
service’s seagoing assets.
In a demonstration
of port security and facilities protection, a mission of significant
importance in the post-Sept. 11 world, the JCOC participants witnessed
a "hostile-vessel intercept" from aboard the Coast Guard
Cutter Frank Drew. In the exercise, an incoming fast boat was
kept at bay and eventually intercepted before it could break the
security perimeter and harm a vessel under Coast Guard protection.
A land version
of facilities protection demonstrated by the Coast Guard involved
inspecting a vehicle attempting to enter a protected area. While
the driver was detained outside the vehicle, Coast Guardsmen used
small cameras with liquid crystal display screens to search under
the chassis and the dashboard, and inside the engine compartment
for bombs or explosives.
In the simulation,
the searchers detected raw wires and an antenna, which led them
to believe the car was wired to detonate. The suspect was ordered
to place his hands on his head. Instead, he drew a pistol and
fired on the Coast Guard personnel, who fired back, "killing"
security is another mission crucial to protecting the continental
United States. Using two actual containers of the type that arrive
in ports every day, JCOC participants were shown how Coast Guardsmen
inspect first the outside of containers for damage and leakage
and second the contents for hazardous materials and contraband.
As part of
the JCOC demonstration, a Coast Guardsmen boarded and searched
a "foreign vessel" for chemical or biological hazards
in a simulation using the latest technology for detecting weapons
of mass destruction.
Guard is perhaps best known for search-and-rescue missions, and
JCOC participants witnessed two "man overboard" drills.
The first, using a dummy victim, demonstrated the skill and teamwork
necessary to pluck a foundering swimmer from the sea and transport
him to safety. The rescue took place aboard a 41-foot Coast Guard
In the second,
a live person was dropped into the sea. Using the Coast Guard’s
new vertical-insertion capability, a Coast Guard helicopter was
summoned to the scene, and a diver lowered by rope into the water.
The diver stabilized the victim and secured him onto a litter.
The victim was then raised into the helicopter.
In an "aids
to navigation" demonstration, JCOC participants boarded a
Coast Guard buoy tender vessel to observe how buoy anchors are
both lowered to and lifted from the seabed. A solar-signal buoy,
complete with 1,700-pound concrete foundational anchor, was inserted
then retrieved just as it would be during a typical Coast Guard
refurbish or replace operation.
the day, JCOC participants asked questions and interacted with
the Coast Guardsmen.
just amazed at how they do so much with such a small force,"
one participant said. "I never realized the Coast Guard was
involved in all of these activities."