Setting the sails for success

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NOAA and OCS trainees conduct navigation training
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Officer-in-Training Jared Halonen, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Mateo and Officer Candidate Jennifer Flowers work together to plot the location of the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings.

While the partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration typically occurs during joint operations, crisis responses or exercises, last week the agencies partnered while sailing on America’s Tall Ship, the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle.

NOAA and OCS trainees give a nautical brief
Coast Guard Officer Candidate Joseph Della Rosa and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Officer-in-Training Andrew Clos give a nautical brief aboard Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings.

For the first time, NOAA officer trainees joined Coast Guard officer candidates aboard the 295-foot barque training vessel in a move to integrate more leadership into their seamanship training.

“We are attempting to model our Basic Officer Training Class off of the Coast Guard Academy’s Officer Candidate School based upon OCS’s record of success,” said Lt. j.g. Jonathan Heesch, the NOAA liaison to the Coast Guard Leadership Development Center and the junior officer in charge of the NOAA Officer Training Center.

The idea to conduct joint Coast Guard and NOAA training began early last year and came to fruition these past few weeks.

“When NOAA approached the academy’s Leadership Development Center, we jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with them,” said Lt. Diana Tkacs, Coast Guard OCS instructor. “The officer career is built around the ability to network and negotiate, not only with the people you work with, but with other departments, districts, local agencies and government agencies.”

Instead of waiting for a joint operation or crisis, this group of officer trainees became acquainted before responding to an incident or even beginning their careers.

Coast Guard officer candidates study seamanship
Coast Guard Officer Candidates Jake Aulner and Michelle Simmons study the nomenclature of the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle. The officer candidates, who graduate in December 2011, are sailing on Eagle as part of their training to become Coast Guard commissioned officers. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 3rd Class Diana Honings.

“This collaboration has offered both the Coast Guard officer candidates and NOAA officers-in-training an opportunity to build a unique relationship early on in their careers,” said Tkacs.

“It’s important because it teaches our officers how to interact and how to operate with other officers and gives them a glimpse into what things are like in the Coast Guard. If you look at the Coast Guard mission areas and the NOAA mission areas, we overlap in several of them,” added Heesch.

While Eagle heads to an extended drydock period in Baltimore, the NOAA and Coast Guard officers will head back to the Coast Guard Academy in New London to continue their training and development as future leaders in their service.

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