National Motor Lifeboat School comes to the East Coast

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Post Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class James Rhodes, Public Affairs Specialist

Provincetown class graduates
PROVINCETOWN, Mass. – The first ever graduating class of the National Motor Lifeboat School's satellite Heavy Weather Course pose with their instructors and members of Station Provincetown for a class photo after a graduation ceremony Nov. 18, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by PA3 James Rhodes.

The ocean can be a dangerous place, especially in the North Atlantic. Perhaps you have seen or heard about a sea rescue on the news, or maybe someone you know has been rescued. Chances are, the U.S. Coast Guard was there.

In most cases, these rescues occur in extreme weather conditions. Have you ever wondered how the Coast Guard trains to operate in these conditions? Well, when it comes to handling a small boat, the National Motor Lifeboat School in Ilwaco, Wash., is your answer.

To attend the NMLBS typically means students from all over the nation have to travel to Washington State. But, for the first time ever, six instructors from the NMLBS came to their students.

heavy weather coxswain training video
PROVINCETOWN, Mass. – Click on the image to watch a video of heavy weather coxswain training being conducted by the National Motor Lifeboat School. This was the first training of its kind on the East Coast. U.S. Coast Guard video by PA3 James Rhodes.

The highly skilled and experienced team conducted a 10-day training course at Coast Guard Station Provincetown in Provincetown, Mass., graduating a new group of heavy coxswains yesterday.

“They were able to teach over a two week period the same curriculum they teach at the NMLBS in Washington at Station Provincetown,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Silvoy, executive petty officer at Station Provincetown. “In essence, this was a satellite school from Cape Disappointment, Wash., taught at Station Provincetown, the first of its kind on the East Coast and in the Coast Guard.”

In the past, it has been challenging for units located on the East Coast to attend the training. With limited personnel, funding and seats in the class, the logistics of getting someone to the school were quite complex.

Instead of going to the school, the school came to the students in an effort to improve the process and reduce costs of training heavy weather coxswains. Twelve members from all over the First Coast Guard District participated in the training giving the District an increased pool of heavy weather coxswains while limiting the strain on resources.

“This is going to benefit my unit,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Graffam, a boatswain’s mate at Station Booth Bay Harbor. “It’s going to give us another heavy weather coxswain, which will basically strengthen the whole district’s capabilities to conduct search and rescue cases in heavy weather.”

While operating in rough seas and high winds, students learned to handle the Coast Guard’s 47-foot Motor Life Boat and conduct maneuvers for heavy weather including approaches to a disabled vessels, P-6 pump transfers, man overboard recovery, and towing.

Congratulations to the Coast Guard’s newly trained heavy weather coxswains!

1 comments on “National Motor Lifeboat School comes to the East Coast”

  1. These people have guts! I know because I was there in 1965-66 when the old Cape D station was torn down and replaced by the current buildings. While the new station and the first ever NMLB was under construction all 16 crew members lived in the duplex apartments which were built for the married crew members. I doubt there are many current crew members that knew or even know about the very first NMLB instructor. He was Larry Hicks, he was my best friend and my mentor. From hair raising rescues in the old 44s to the scared stiff cliff rescue hanging from beneath a chopper I lived it all while there at Cape D and grew up very fast.
    Loy Robinson

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