Boat Forces Tour – ANT San Francisco

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Members of ANT San Francisco prepare to float a marker buoy for Fleet Week.  The buoy was used by the Blue Angels as a reference point for their manuevers over the bay.  Photo by PA2 Dan Bender
Members of ANT San Francisco prepare to float a marker buoy for Fleet Week. The buoy was used by the Blue Angels as a reference point for their manuevers over the bay. Photo by PA2 Dan Bender

Our next stop on the Boat Forces Tour is Aids to Navigation Team San Francisco where Coasties work hard to keep the maritime public safe around California’s Bay Area.

“Our mission is to maintain more than 700 aids to navigation within our area of responsibility,” said BMC Jay Brisson, the officer in charge at the ANT, “although we can be assigned many other Coast Guard missions depending on the needs of the service.”

This is vital work because the thousands of vessels that transit the bay rely on the aids the ANT services.

BMC Jay Brisson radios Sector San Francisco before getting underway.  Photo by PA2 Dan Bender
BMC Jay Brisson radios Sector San Francisco before getting underway. Photo by PA2 Dan Bender

“Maintaining these aids contributes to safe passage of all commerce into the ports of Oakland, Richmond, Martinez, Stockton, and Sacramento,” said Brisson. “There’s a massive amount of goods coming in and out of port every day.”

Like most ANTs, their area of responsibility is much larger than that of your average station.  With hundreds of aids to navigation to service, there’s only one way for the 20-person crew to stay caught up—hard work.

“ATON work routinely requires long hours, technical expertise, attention to detail, adaptability and plenty of initiative,” said Brisson.  “Our AOR extends form Bodega Bay, through San Francisco Bay, to Point Sur and east to Sacramento including Lake Tahoe as well as all other federal waterways and tributaries in between.”

It also requires a lot of training; there’s a huge skill set associated with working here from servicing buoys to seamanship.

BM1 Juan DeLeon leads a safety brief for the day's mission. Photo by PA2 Dan Bender
BM1 Juan DeLeon leads a safety brief for the day's mission. Photo by PA2 Dan Bender

“We’re responsible for all of the requirements set forth in Coast Guard Boat Operations and Training Manual in addition to specialized ATON training including minor aids, lighthouse technician, aid positioning, and tower climbing courses,” said Brisson.

Ultimately, the demanding operational tempo only makes the job that much more satisfying.

“The best part of our job is the feeling of accomplishment you get with tangible results,” said Brisson.

They’re definitely tangible for the mariners who rely on them.

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