Boat Forces Tour – Boatswain’s Mate “A” School

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The training facilities are located near the mouth of the York River on the Virginia side of the Cheasepeake Bay.  Photo by PA2 Dan Bender
The training facilities are located near the mouth of the York River on the Virginia side of the Cheasepeake Bay. Photo by PA2 Dan Bender

Over the next few months we’ll be taking you to a variety of units that showcase the many mission areas supported by boat forces , the program that encompasses all Coast Guard vessels under 65 feet in length.

There’s no better place to begin our series than with Boatswain’s Mate “A” School in Yorktown, Va.  The most versatile member of the Coast Guard’s operational team is the Boatswain’s Mate and a majority of them begin their training here.

“Boatswain’s Mates are masters of seamanship,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Todd Stein, the school chief at BM “A” School.  “BMs are capable of performing almost any task in connection with deck maintenance, small boat operations, navigation, and supervising all personnel assigned to a ship’s work force or small boat station.”

A future boatswain's mate practices piloting a 41-foot utility boat in reverse during a hands-on evolution.  Photo by PA2 Dan Bender
A future boatswain's mate practices piloting a 41-foot utility boat in reverse during a hands-on evolution. Photo by PA2 Dan Bender

Stein leads the rigorous 12-week program at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown where students are exposed to many facets of the BM rating including marlinespike seamanship, navigation, and practical exercises underway.  The standardized training gives students a great start to the boat forces career.

“It gives these future coxswains [boat drivers] a foundation in navigation and safe practices for running a small boat,” said Stein.  “They have enough time in a learning environment to learn best practices through a standardized drill set.”

But seamanship and safety underway begins well before the students ever touch a helm.  They receive leadership training and certifications for first aid and CPR in addition to intensive physical training through the course.

“Our students must meet the standard physical fitness requirements for all boat crewmen in the Coast Guard,” said Stein.  “The physical fitness standards help them manage and mitigate the mental and physical rigors of long work hours and intense operations during their careers.”

A new posts in the Boat Forces Tour series will be added each week through November.  You can also follow the series at this link.

Students are required to meet rigorous fitness standards throughout the training program.  Photo by PA2 Dan Bender
Students are required to meet rigorous fitness standards throughout the training program. Photo by PA2 Dan Bender

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